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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 158

post #2356 of 3714
DA,

I have the 2 cd set, but I suppose I will have to upgrade if the remastering is good enough. Too often when Decca remasters the sound quality is improved but not that much.

I just put in my order for the Solti cycle -- $42.21 at Overstock.com.
post #2357 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
If you get the 1CD Decca Legends Mehta M2 it is remastered (as are all Decca Legends series) but many people have the 2CD Mehta M2 that also includes Schmidt symphony 4.......life is not complete with Solti/CSO M2!




Tennstedt complete set arrived today from overstock.com!
I second this recommendation
post #2358 of 3714
Nor is life complete without the Schmidt 4th! This is music of extraordinary beauty and power that belongs in every collection. If you have the single disk Mehta M2 (and it is a worthy reading, to be sure), you must add the Schmidt -- Welser-Most on EMI will do.

I, too, listened to Barenboims M7 last week, and was very impressed by a conductor whose work I usually find dull and heavy-handed. This is a great Mahler 7: superb playing and spectacular sound. One caveat: Barenboim, like Solti, uses measured tremelos in the beginning for the string parts. Just never sound right to me. Must of picked up the idea in Chicago. That's my only complaint.
post #2359 of 3714
I finally got around to the new Abbado M4. It was cheap at Barnes and Noble.

I'll begin at the end, Renée Fleming had no business singing this score. Her voice is too big and her tone is too brassy to even begin to attempt to sound childlike. She is obviously reining herself in and trying to match Mahler's demanding specifications. She isn't succeeding. Imagine Voigt or Eaglen - or, Heaven forfend - Nilsson trying to do this, and you'll get an idea of my impression. Her style is a little too cutesy (and sulky, as others have noted); like Schwarzkopf, but worse.

I seem to be the most consistent defender of the new Abbado Mahler, and I'll continue that defense here. There are some problems, but I don't think that they're as awful as Mr. Hurwitz thinks they are. Abbado has a concept of the score that would be better suited to Chicago, Cleveland, or Vienna. The Berliners are not much of a Mahler band, with a few notable exceptions. In order for Abbado's idea to come off perfectly, he needs a very precise, virtuoso band or a group steeped in Mahler (however revised the brewing story has become).

This is a solid performance, and - if you can overlook Renée Fleming - it is solidly in line with the best of Abbado's new Mahler. I get the impression that Universal wanted DG to cash in on Renéemania, and this seemed like as good a crossover as any. Note the Berg Lieder if you want proof of this. Boulez' 4th wasn't coupled with anything, as I recall.
post #2360 of 3714
Hi PSmith,

Was the price at B&N as cheap as yourmusic, or cheaper?

As for this M4, I hope the Berliners weren't playing it the same way with Abbado as they were with Rattle who opened with the bells at half tempo and then the strings coming in twice as fast as marked. The strings also sounded so thin -- more like the CBSO than an orchestra that was once piloted by HvK. I ordered it because it was cheap. Now after hearing your assessment, I'm wondering if I shouldn't just send it back unopened when it arrives. You have really damned it with faint praise -- and a complete thumbs down for Renée Fleming that can in no way be construed as praise, faint or otherwise!

Btw, I never would have guessed that the Berliners weren't a Mahler band after listening to HvK's M9.
post #2361 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Hi PSmith,

Was the price at B&N as cheap as yourmusic, or cheaper?

As for this M4, I hope the Berliners weren't playing it the same way with Abbado as they were with Rattle who opened with the bells at half tempo and then the strings coming in twice as fast as marked. The strings also sounded so thin -- more like the CBSO than an orchestra that was once piloted by HvK. I ordered it because it was cheap. Now after hearing your assessment, I'm wondering if I shouldn't just send it back unopened when it arrives. You have really damned it with faint praise -- and a complete thumbs down for Renée Fleming that can in no way be construed as praise, faint or otherwise!

Btw, I never would have guessed that the Berliners weren't a Mahler band after listening to HvK's M9.
I think it was 12 dollars or so with the B&N markdown plus my 10% discount.

This, like most of Abbado's new Mahler, is not a particularly lush performance. I would say that this is somewhat spare. This could be a problem with the band, which your experience would seem to indicate, or it could be a DGG problem - trying to dry out the Philharmonie. This is certainly one of the weirder M4 recordings on the market. Again, I get the impression that Universal was trying to cash in on Renée Fleming's popularity. Juliane Banse did a fantastic job for Boulez, showing that they can still find a good soprano.

Give it a spin. I am interested by Abbado's orchestral work and absolutely disgusted by Renée Fleming's vocals. His new Mahler reminds me of Von Karajan's Der Ring des Nibelungen. The vocals aren't great, but the orchestral clarity is worth it (I suppose). You might find it a wonderful disc.

As to the Berliners: they have turned in, to my mind, four Mahler discs worth the trouble: Von Karajan's 5th and 9th, Barbirolli's 9th, and Bernstein's 9th. There is something about the Prussian mindset that makes Mahler alien; the famous Prussian frostiness does not deal well with Mahler's irony and emotion. Barbirolli's M2 on Testament shows how poorly they did at the beginning of the reconstruction of a Mahler tradition in Berlin.
post #2362 of 3714

Similar to Kubelik?

I've really been enjoying the Kubelik/Audite M2 and M3, and look forward to getting more of his Mahlers.

But I'm also curious about what conductors you think have a similar approach to Mahler.

And to extend this question, do any of you tend to group conductors, using any categories? I've read some of the discussions here on analytical vs. emotional approaches, and found them interesting. What other ways do you categorize Mahler conductors/recordings?
post #2363 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
I think it was 12 dollars or so with the B&N markdown plus my 10% discount.

This, like most of Abbado's new Mahler, is not a particularly lush performance. I would say that this is somewhat spare. This could be a problem with the band, which your experience would seem to indicate, or it could be a DGG problem - trying to dry out the Philharmonie. This is certainly one of the weirder M4 recordings on the market. Again, I get the impression that Universal was trying to cash in on Renée Fleming's popularity. Juliane Banse did a fantastic job for Boulez, showing that they can still find a good soprano.

Give it a spin. I am interested by Abbado's orchestral work and absolutely disgusted by Renée Fleming's vocals. His new Mahler reminds me of Von Karajan's Der Ring des Nibelungen. The vocals aren't great, but the orchestral clarity is worth it (I suppose). You might find it a wonderful disc.

As to the Berliners: they have turned in, to my mind, four Mahler discs worth the trouble: Von Karajan's 5th and 9th, Barbirolli's 9th, and Bernstein's 9th. There is something about the Prussian mindset that makes Mahler alien; the famous Prussian frostiness does not deal well with Mahler's irony and emotion. Barbirolli's M2 on Testament shows how poorly they did at the beginning of the reconstruction of a Mahler tradition in Berlin.[/QUOTE]

It's not the band, it's the conductors. FWIW, they sounded very lush with von Karajan and Bernstein and now sound thin to the point of anorexia under Rattle who just carried Abbado's trend to a leaner orchestral sound to a greater extreme. If you listen to Abbado's recordings with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, they have the same sound. Btw, is the sound a bit recessed as well? I've tried the cd and the sacd of the M2 (Lucerne Festival O.) and still find the sound quality of that hard to deal with in any format.

Fwiw, Ted Levine reviewed it for Amazon, and he also hated Renée Fleming's work here. In fact, he seems to have hated the whole recording:

Quote:
This is an oddly unsatisfying Mahler 4th. Abbado very wisely lets us hear Mahler's sensitive, chamber-like scoring and the Berliners play handsomely, but after the first few minutes of the first movement, we get the feeling that he's being fussy, and that we are getting Mahler-under-a-microscope. The work as a whole loses impact. Perhaps in the concert hall (this is a live performance) the specificity worked its magic and the listeners could feel a part of the process, but we, at home, somehow do not get the correct effect. The Adagio is beautifully played--Abbado adds extra drama but some quick accelerandi. The finale, with its beautiful soprano solo, is the worst work I've ever heard from Renée Fleming, who, in an attempt to sound innocent, as the score is marked, actually comes across as a teenaged brat simpering with pursed lips and a big voice she's trying to hide. There are a dozen better performances available--Barbara Bonney (with Chailly), Juliane Banse (with Boulez), to name two. Fleming also sings Alban Berg's Seven Early Songs quite handsomely and imbues each with an ear for both textual and musical nuance. --Robert Levine
post #2364 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by bookdoctor
I've really been enjoying the Kubelik/Audite M2 and M3, and look forward to getting more of his Mahlers.

But I'm also curious about what conductors you think have a similar approach to Mahler.

And to extend this question, do any of you tend to group conductors, using any categories? I've read some of the discussions here on analytical vs. emotional approaches, and found them interesting. What other ways do you categorize Mahler conductors/recordings?
Try Bertini's box set of Mahler. He is said to be very close to Kubelik in approach in that he also emphasizes the lyrical lines and architecture of the symphonies. In addition, the sound quality is amazingly good. Btw, the set also includes Das Lied, and that is also a very good performance as well.
post #2365 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
It's not the band, it's the conductors. FWIW, they sounded very lush with von Karajan and Bernstein and now sound thin to the point of anorexia under Rattle who just carried Abbado's trend to a leaner orchestral sound to a greater extreme. If you listen to Abbado's recordings with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, they have the same sound. Btw, is the sound a bit recessed as well? I've tried the cd and the sacd of the M2 (Lucerne Festival O.) and still find the sound quality of that hard to deal with in any format.

Fwiw, Ted Levine reviewed it for Amazon, and he also hated Renée Fleming's work here. In fact, he seems to have hated the whole recording:
The sound is a little recessed, not so bad as other recordings, but one can tell that it was mixed strangely.

Levine's review is solid; I do not entirely agree, but he did make some solid points.
post #2366 of 3714
PSmith,

Because the 4th is so Haydnesque, one would think that the symphony probably poses the fewest problems in terms of interpretative vision. It's the simplicity however, where some conductors seem to mess up most. The music has so much packed into it, that the less you do with it the better it comes across but some just have to put the stamp of their "genius" on everything. I'm just dying to see how it sounds compared to the Rattle version which is also extremely eccentric and marred by an inappropropriate singer as well. Hopefully it will be better than the Rattle M4. It certainly can't be worse (or not by much).
post #2367 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Try Bertini's box set of Mahler. He is said to be very close to Kubelik in approach in that he also emphasizes the lyrical lines and architecture of the symphonies.
Really? I'd have to say that I see Bertini as pretty far away from Kubelik. Kubelik was all about organic flow and intimate warmth, whereas Bertini is much more in the Horensteinian mode of perfectionist architect, etching a design into stone.

Thus, Bookdoctor, as you can see, all classifications of conductors immediately are subject to vigorous disagreement around here!! For my two cents' worth, I'd describe Kubelik as being in a category with Bruno Walter and Vaclav Neumann called The Warm Pastoral School.

Bertini fits with Jascha Horenstein and Otto Klemperer, The Stone Carvers.
post #2368 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
Juliane Banse did a fantastic job for Boulez
Patrick's vote is in for Juliane Banse. Anyone else have favorite soprano renditions of the M4 finale?

Although she's a touch matronly, and though the conductor's pacing is a touch stolid, I still remain quite in love with Margaret Price's performance for Jascha Horenstein on his EMI recording, featuring the best-ever slide (Sankt Ursula selbst dazuuuuuuu lacht...), smooth, rich, unrushed, seemingly effortless, and perfectly aligned with the slide in the violins.

For a more child-like freshness, Helen Donath did a nice job on Inbal's recording. She also did a great job keeping up with Inbal's detailed tempo adjustments.

I haven't heard the Abbado yet, but I'm less than thrilled to hear that they stuck Renee Fleming on as soprano-- nothing against her, she's great in the right repertory. But M4 calls for a light, silvery voice, not a rich, golden one.

M
post #2369 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
Really? I'd have to say that I see Bertini as pretty far away from Kubelik. Kubelik was all about organic flow and intimate warmth, whereas Bertini is much more in the Horensteinian mode of perfectionist architect, etching a design into stone.

Thus, Bookdoctor, as you can see, all classifications of conductors immediately are subject to vigorous disagreement around here!! For my two cents' worth, I'd describe Kubelik as being in a category with Bruno Walter and Vaclav Neumann called The Warm Pastoral School.

Bertini fits with Jascha Horenstein and Otto Klemperer, The Stone Carvers.
I would be inclined to agree with this assessment. I see Bertini as musically closer to Pierre Boulez than Rafael Kubelik. However, there are some fundamental differences between Boulez and Bertini, which are obvious from even a cursory comparison. I would also say that, except for some problems in the M4, Abbado's new Mahler is fairly close - spiritually - to Bertini. However, Bertini had a better sense of the elegance and style of Mahler than Abbado.
post #2370 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
Patrick's vote is in for Juliane Banse. Anyone else have favorite soprano renditions of the M4 finale?

M
Kathleen Battle in the Maazel.
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