Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
LOL! That record served us well, eh, Jar? After I got Walter's on CD (as soon as it was available, of course), I sold the LP. I hope it has served others well, too. Thinking back, though, there was one thing that drove me nuts: The side split for the record was about 7 minutes into the funeral march. Just when it was at its peak of intensity... you had to get up and flip the record to hear the other 4 minutes of the movement and the finale.
Ah, memories! Mahler's 1st will always be dear to me, because you can hear him become "MAHLER" right before your ears. Parts of the first movement could almost pass for nature music by any high-quality romanticist. But then there's Mahler's exquisite instrumental touches. And the development section, which is spellbinding. And then the sudden shadows and anxiety toward the end of the movement. And again, the scherzo starts off gruff and lumbering like many other such pieces, but soon Mahler's peculiar essence gels the rather conventional material into something ardent and fervent. The trio dares to play with a sentimental tune, always hesitating just this side of mawkishness, making the listener fall in love with a country waltz beneath the harvest moon. With the opening drum taps of the third movement, it's over. The full Mahler has emerged out into the broad daylight of...well, midnight... but you get my point!
No, I'm telling you, you guys all missed out on the BEST Mahler listening. My parents had an old garage that was detached from the house, and they lived in a semi-rural area, so the closest house was a few hundred yards away. In the summer, they never kept the cars inside the garage, so I would "take it over" and move my stereo and lots of my records out there. Oh, how many times Mason and I would sit out there until late, late at night, playing music. We could usually go at a pretty vigorous level, because the folks had air conditioners running. Of course, we did wake them up a few times. In particular, I remember a Solti Mahler 8 that got a little out of hand. But they were pretty tolerant. I must say, that was some of the best listening I ever did... Music rolling out into the night as a sweet breeze blew gently into the old wooden garage. Now that is the way to listen to Mahler!
The main thing that gets me about the M1, is just how freaking different it sounded as compared to the things I'd heard up to that point. The opening is so static. It's not walking through a garden. It's sitting smack in the middle of the garden and watching the flowers, water and animals move around you.. To be blunt, what balls it took for Mahler to start of a symphony like that.. and it works so damn well.