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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 159

post #2371 of 3714
I have to agree with all of you about Bertini, but the more I read about the set, the more I hear about how similar he is to Kubelik. For me Kubelik really stands alone from everyone else because while the lyrical parts were incredibly moving, he gets more sleaze from his brass than any other conductor. In addition to that his grasp of the architectural lines has never been bettered by anyone. That's why he seems to flit between stone carver and warm pastoral. Walter never got the same sarcastic bite that Kubelik did and Bertini and the other objective conductors never got a better line than Kubelik either. Kubelik was my first purchased Mahler and it still is my favorite.
post #2372 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
Anyone else have favorite soprano renditions of the M4 finale?

M
I think Doc's choice of Natania Devrath is excellent. I also adored Lisa della Casa, but she wasn't in best voice when she recorded it with Fritz Reiner. And Fredericka von Stade also does excellently with the music as well.

Right now I am suffering severe Mahler withdrawal. I just received the Inbal set and can't listen to it until my speaker (which suffered a serious accident over Passover) is repaired or replaced.

This is something that I'm going to break out all of the cds for. But, hopefully it will all be resolved in the next few days.
post #2373 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
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.
Best 4th movement female vocals I have heard are also Helen Donath from Inbal/Denon 4th. I also love Kathleen Battles light crystaline vocals, but Maazels glacially paced tempos prevent my recommendation.

Of course Bernstein/DG sidesteps the entire issue buy using child to sing vocals.
post #2374 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
Best 4th movement female vocals I have heard are also Helen Donath from Inbal/Denon 4th. I also love Kathleen Battles light crystaline vocals, but Maazels glacially paced tempos prevent my recommendation.

Of course Bernstein/DG sidesteps the entire issue buy using child to sing vocals.
But Helmut Wittek was no Sebastian Hennig, and the voice was strained for the highnotes.
post #2375 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Kubelik was my first purchased Mahler and it still is my favorite.
Ah, but don't we always have a bit of a tendency to favor our first true love over later ones? Seriously, though. I'm sure my whole concept of Mahler is heavily influenced by my first recordings:

1: Walter
2: Kubelik
3: Solti
4: Horenstein
5: Solti
6: Solti
7: Levine
8: Solti
9: Tennstedt
10: Rattle
DL: Klemperer

These all remain among my favorite versions, partly because they are great, but partly, no doubt, because they set the framework for how I heard each piece. Fortunately, I had a good mix of approaches to Mahler, so I didn't get a distorted view.

M
post #2376 of 3714
post #2377 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
Ah, but don't we always have a bit of a tendency to favor our first true love over later ones? Seriously, though. I'm sure my whole concept of Mahler is heavily influenced by my first recordings:

1: Walter
2: Kubelik
3: Solti
4: Horenstein
5: Solti
6: Solti
7: Levine
8: Solti
9: Tennstedt
10: Rattle
DL: Klemperer

These all remain among my favorite versions, partly because they are great, but partly, no doubt, because they set the framework for how I heard each piece. Fortunately, I had a good mix of approaches to Mahler, so I didn't get a distorted view.

M
I don't know if my first experiences to the symphonies have colored my views of each of them, but here are my firsts:

1. Kubelik
2. Klemperer
3. Zander
4. Levine
5. Abbado
6. Abbado (II)
7. Abbado
8. Solti
9. Boulez
DL. Bernstein

Perhaps this explains my seemingly singular appreciation for the new Abbado recordings, despite my mixed feelings about the new M4.
post #2378 of 3714
Mahler 4:

1. Yes, Maazel's tempos are glacial...and very beguiling. It's a world-weary approach and I frequently turn to it as a welcome change. The Vienna Phil plays like gods, and the early digital sound is still excellent. The string playing in the 3rd movement is utterly amazing, but what would one expect from a violin virtuoso conductor? For many years this recording was rated the best choice in M4s almost universally by critics. It was just about the only recording in his set that was acclaimed thusly.

2. Best soprano: Lucia Popp with Tennstedt. The part needs a wide-eyed innocent feel, which is why so many more famous singers ruin it. I also like the boy soprano on the Novalis recording of Erwin Stein's reduction.

3. Bunnyears: people mistakenly think that because of the small scale (time and orchestration) of the 4th, that it provides fewer problems. Not so! In fact, it's very difficult to do effectively as it has so many sudden tempo changes from one extreme to another, wide dynamic changes in rapid succession, some very trecherous string writing, and wide mood swings. In comparison, the 6th, which sound so much more difficult, isn't -- at least from the podium. In the famous words of the late William Steinberg, "es ist nicht fur kinder!"
post #2379 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub
Mahler 4:

1. Yes, Maazel's tempos are glacial...and very beguiling. It's a world-weary approach and I frequently turn to it as a welcome change. The Vienna Phil plays like gods, and the early digital sound is still excellent. The string playing in the 3rd movement is utterly amazing, but what would one expect from a violin virtuoso conductor? For many years this recording was rated the best choice in M4s almost universally by critics. It was just about the only recording in his set that was acclaimed thusly.
It's a different approach from the standard run through of the M4, and I think it works really well. I've had my issues with Maazel over the years, but I do like many parts of his cycle. Most of his M7 was too icy and remote, but that glacial quality made for one hell of an imposing version of the first movement, but then again, I'm on record as liking a slower than traditional pace for that movement.

M
post #2380 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
I have to agree with all of you about Bertini, but the more I read about the set, the more I hear about how similar he is to Kubelik. For me Kubelik really stands alone from everyone else because while the lyrical parts were incredibly moving, he gets more sleaze from his brass than any other conductor. In addition to that his grasp of the architectural lines has never been bettered by anyone. That's why he seems to flit between stone carver and warm pastoral. Walter never got the same sarcastic bite that Kubelik did and Bertini and the other objective conductors never got a better line than Kubelik either. Kubelik was my first purchased Mahler and it still is my favorite.
Thank you, I was trying to find the words to describe what I appreciated about Kubelik's style, and they just weren't coming! But that describes it perfectly. The first movement of his M3 (Audite version) gave me goosebumps at times. He gets a very rich sound out of the orchestra, but without going overboard as I feel Bernstein sometimes does.

I also enjoy Walter's approach, although it seems more austere. I find his interpretations very elegant and thoughtful.

I will eventually (hopefully sooner than later) look for some Bertini versions, since I'm curious about him.

Thanks to all who shared their thoughts; we all have different ways of classifying conducting approaches, and it's interesting so see what they are.
post #2381 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub
Mahler 4:

1. Yes, Maazel's tempos are glacial...and very beguiling. It's a world-weary approach and I frequently turn to it as a welcome change. The Vienna Phil plays like gods, and the early digital sound is still excellent. The string playing in the 3rd movement is utterly amazing, but what would one expect from a violin virtuoso conductor? For many years this recording was rated the best choice in M4s almost universally by critics. It was just about the only recording in his set that was acclaimed thusly.

2. Best soprano: Lucia Popp with Tennstedt. The part needs a wide-eyed innocent feel, which is why so many more famous singers ruin it. I also like the boy soprano on the Novalis recording of Erwin Stein's reduction.

3. Bunnyears: people mistakenly think that because of the small scale (time and orchestration) of the 4th, that it provides fewer problems. Not so! In fact, it's very difficult to do effectively as it has so many sudden tempo changes from one extreme to another, wide dynamic changes in rapid succession, some very trecherous string writing, and wide mood swings. In comparison, the 6th, which sound so much more difficult, isn't -- at least from the podium. In the famous words of the late William Steinberg, "es ist nicht fur kinder!"
Mb,

I wasn't referring to the technical difficulties posed by the symphony but rather the main interpretative vision -- how the conductor wants it to sound. It's that initial decision to see it as lighthearted and uptempo or deliberate and staid, or fleet but much darker that I refer to. For me the 4th speaks so clearly that I never can fathom why some insist on adding or subtracting to the vision spelled out with the music through the use of strange rubatos and other equally weird tempo decisions.

For instance, those opening sleighbells so clearly have to take their pace from the action of a horse that is trotting or pacing easily. I can see a sleigh pulled by a pair of horses, gliding over the packed snow roads going from Vienna into the surrounding countryside at a pace just fast enough not to do injury to the horses. Anything slower and that sleigh cannot pick up the momentum needed to set it gliding. If it goes too quickly, the sled will skid over the surface while the horses' hooves will fail to get good purchase so that the horses will founder and the sleigh will overturn. I'll bet dollars to dimes that when Mahler wrote that opening anyone sitting in the hall listening would immediately think of the sleighs that the Viennese used every winter.
post #2382 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Top 5 list April 2006:

1)Bernstein/Sony + Solti/LSO/Decca Legends + Kubelik/Audite + Scherchen/Westminster + Abbado/CSO/DG
*
2)Solti/CSO/London + Bernstein/Sony + Mehta/Decca Legends + Kaplan/Conifer + Litton/Delos
*
3)Horenstein/Unicorn + Bernstein/Sony + Barbirolli/BBC Legends + Kondrashin/Melodiya + Tennstedt/EMI + Solti/London
*
4)Szell/Sony + Inbal/Dennon + Levine/RCA + Renier/RCA + Welser Most/EMI + Bernstein/DG
*
5)Bernstein/DG + Kondrashin/Melodiya + Sinopoli/DG + Gatti/Musical Heritage + Barshai/Brilliant + Kubelik/Audite
*
6)Mitropoulos/EMI Great Conductors + Kondrashin/Melodiya + Bernstein/Sony + Eiji Oue/Fontec + Tennstedt/EMI
*
7)Kondrashin/Melodiya + Bernstein/Sony + Kubelik/Audite + Abbado/CSO/DG + Scherchen/Westminster + Solti/London
*
9)Ancerl/Supraphon Gold + Kondrashin/Melodiya + Mitropoulos/Music & Arts + Bernstein/Sony + Kubelik/Audite
After hearing the Tennstedt/EMI set I will add two performances to top 5 list. The 3rd is best in set and very strong performance......curious since 2nd I feel is weakest in set and usually they go hand in hand, but not here. Also 6th is strong enough to just barely squeeze in a spot for now in very competitive list, my take on set:

3,6 - top 5 list, excellent performances and sound especially 3rd.
4,5,7 - very good
1,9 - OK but nothing stands out.
2 - below average
8 - I don't rank 8ths, but most critics say it is one of the best ever.
post #2383 of 3714
Bunnyears: I don't doubt your sincerity, but I have never read any reference in any Mahler bio or music study relating the sleigh bells to a sleigh ride. We also know that in its initial printing, Mahler indicated mm = 88, and then later wanted it slower, which Maazel is.
You mention weird tempo changes and rubatos: they're in the score. That's where many conductors go wrong is that they ignore (or don't understand) Mahler's meticulous notes to conductors. What may really annoy you is the simple fact that many conductors don't handle it smoothly or "organically' as musicologists like to say. Worst are those who want to turn it into their own vision and rip the music all over. This is why I can't understand the general adulation given Herr Rattle. Reading the score following his recording is very revealing. That's where people like Maazel stand out. While he can be a very infuriating conductor, when he wants to, he can be brilliant. In Mahler's case, what I love about his set is the attention he gives to the details in the score: string and wind portamentos are not left out as most all modern (after 1950) performances do. Why? Portamento was the standard way of playing at the fin de siecle, but became outmoded. When a conductor asks for it, and the orchestra has the skill to do it, the differences are very telling. Most people now find portamento slovenly and ugly: like a bad night club singer who always scoops notes. But when Mahler writes it into the score, it must be played. When he writes "faster here" followed by "suddenly slower" it must be played.
When I judge any recording or performance, the standard is always the printed score, tempered of course by common sense and tradition. This is one problem I have with so many people this board: I greatly enjoy the opinions, sparring, etc, but as one who reads music fluently, and studies it seriously, I have issues when people select their best recording without ever having considered the composers intention.
Where Maazel screws up: he clearly misreads Mahler's intention in the last movement. At his slow tempo, any sense of innocence and child-like quality is hopelessly lost in the bog.

In short, I don't give a damn about a conductor's vision: I want Mahler's vision. I want the conductor to play what's on the page, not get in the way, and let the composer speak. Very, very tall order. With Mahler, conductor egos run full throttle, and too often Mahler loses.

Well, off to a live M2. Huge choir assembled. Should be awesome.
post #2384 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub

In short, I don't give a damn about a conductor's vision: I want Mahler's vision. I want the conductor to play what's on the page, not get in the way, and let the composer speak. Very, very tall order. With Mahler, conductor egos run full throttle, and too often Mahler loses.
I recently read an interview of Sir Charles Mackerras in Grammophone, and he said the following about Mahler and his "intentions," which we have come to see are only correct ones for the moment. No wonder Mengelberg, Klemperer and Walter all did Mahler very differently even if they all had studied with the composer himself, probably because they all did so at different times.

("JJ" is James Jolly, editor-in-chief at Grammophone)

(quote)

CM: Terrible! Mahler is a special case because he seemed to taper his own works and change the orchestration and dynamics for whatever hall he was performing in. I'm a very strong believer in the idea that the final versions of his works are only final because that's the last time he did them. Of course he didn't change anything with the Song of the Earth because he never did it. Nor the Ninth Symphony. The version of any given bar of any Mahler symphony should be, as he said, in accordance with the acoustic of the hall. I have no hesitation in going back to earlier versions (although I use the last versions, the famous Ratz editions, as much as possible) if I feel it's going to sound better.

JJ: I'm always intrigued that if you follow Mahler performance practice during the latter few decades of the 20th century, when they truly entered the repertoire, they've got slower and slower.

CM: The original performers certainly took them much faster. Bruno Walter is the famous example of somebody who heard Mahler doing his own works (although probably not all of them). But he does them very flowingly.

JJ: Probably Bernstein has a lot to answer for.

CM: Yes, he was probably responsible for making them very slow. But Mahler himself used to conduct some works terribly fast one day and very slow the next, the same passage. And he was constantly contradicting himself as to what he actually wanted. There are those famous old American players who performed for him and they say he wanted it loud one day and soft the next. One can sort of imagine what Mahler's rehearsals must have been like because one fully understands how certain passages could be loud one day and soft the next, and fast one day and slow the next and so on. A great mind, most interesting and of course a marvellous composer to actually conduct because one feels he'd the supreme master of orchestration and knows exactly how it should be conducted, putting in all these directions, and how many beats you have to do.

(quote ends)

more at:

http://www.gramophone.co.uk/intervie...f=2494&id=2496

(may require registration)
post #2385 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub
In short, I don't give a damn about a conductor's vision: I want Mahler's vision. I want the conductor to play what's on the page, not get in the way, and let the composer speak. Very, very tall order. With Mahler, conductor egos run full throttle, and too often Mahler loses.
The only problem with this approach is that it presupposes that there's only one correct way or vision, and that the composer had it. It makes no allowance for the interaction of the work with human beings, which surely must be why the composer wrote the pieces in the first place: to communicate. A conductor without a vision cannot bring Mahler's music to life.

Now, having played devil's advocate, I will admit to being a close follower of the score, and being not too terribly far removed from mbhaub's opinion here. Most conductors are fools who miss the important parts. But they are an integral part of the whole artistic concept: Orchestral music on this scale is designed to have a central focus in a shamanistic figure who leads by imposing, compromising, threatening, cajoling, or inspiring. In music, as in life, most leaders are frauds, but those few real ones make all the difference in the world.

M
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