Oh, Mr. Haub, while we're arguing
I went back and listened to the Scherchen Mahler 7th from Toronto in the mid-1960's we were talking about previously. I admit that I was wrong about the technical level of the playing: They are really doing an impressive, noble job of trying to play this music at these tempos. I still find the whole thing to be a disaster, though. Incidentally, though the opening baritone soloist has nice tone, he actually doesn't nail the solo. He misreads some of the rhythms. The accompanying pulses in the strings and lower winds are in 8th notes and 32nd notes. In the third bar, the baritone player matches those rhythms. What Mahler actually wrote is different: a dotted eigth, followed by a 32nd rest, and then two upbeat 64th notes, which is much more fleeting and difficult than what is played here. Unfortunately, Scherchen's tempo hardly allows for this distinction, and Scherchen either didn't notice or didn't care. Then Scherchen botches the tempo change two bars after No. 3 in the score by doubling the speed instead of doing what Mahler wrote, which was a change from "Langsam" to "Etwas weniger langsam, aber immer sehr gemessen," which suggests to me only a slight tightening of the basic pulse. After incorrectly skewing the opening tempo relationships, Scherchen uses that as a springboard to a tempo so fast that all the players' concentration is devoted merely to keeping up, without enough expression of character (other than panic). I won't deny that it is exciting. It is exciting like a roller coaster that might go off the tracks at any moment: You're flying around curves and loop-de-loops with bolts and pieces of track whizzing through the air around you. Heady stuff, to be sure, but I just don't see that as having a whole lot to do with the quirky, visionary work which Mahler wrote.