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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 181

post #2701 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Noticed Michael Gielen's M10 (cooke completion) at your music.com. Now I'll be able to compare it to the Rattle which was also extremely good (and that's from someone who is not a Rattle Fan).

Scott,

Rattle's M8, as I recall, was not bad. In fact it was quite good; just not as good as Gramophone's rave review and certainly not as exciting as Solti's.
I think I have to agree here, it doesn't get as exciting as Solti, or go as deep as Bertini, but it isn't bad, not bad per-se, but not much there to make it stand out.

Speaking of Rattle, he opened the season with the BPO with the M2.

It's here if anyone is interested.
post #2702 of 3714
That link isn't working for me. It just shows an ad for the service. Anyway, I doubt that he has rethought the symphony since his recording with CBSO.
post #2703 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
That link isn't working for me. It just shows an ad for the service. Anyway, I doubt that he has rethought the symphony since his recording with CBSO.
Scroll down to the bottom, there are two buttons hit the one that says free, then follow the instructions.
post #2704 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard
That's definitely true. On speakers, recording quality just doesn't matter as much. But I do 90% of my listening on headphones, which I guess explains why the ADD transfers often bother me. (Spent a couple of hours listening to the Kempff recording of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas yesterday, and as much as I love the performances, just could not stop thinking about the hiss.)

As for "bones of the music," I think you guys may just have a special ability to appreciate things that I don't. For example, I know Mahler 1 and Mahler 5 inside out, having played them both (and also having studied the score for Mahler 5 for a music class). I know every note and every part, and I can hear the differences between performances, but I just don't really appreciate them. For example, if I am listening to Bernstein's version, I can hear that it's a little more drawn out and heavy-handed, but I can also hear the music in my head as if he were playing faster because I've heard it played faster. Hard to explain. I think I may need to expand my collection a bit and hopefully get to the point where you guys are at.
Your comments are interesting psychologically. It is clear that not only do we all have different opinions as to our favorite recordings, but we also differ on what good recordings should sound like on a technical level, and we also sometimes hear in our minds something different than what is on the recordings. Our brains are amazing organs.

I myself much prefer the sound of good master tape hiss than I do its absence. The hiss seems natural to me when listening to a recording, and unnatural when it is gone. I'm not an extreme "analog = good, digital = bad" kind of guy, but I still feel that way.

I know from observing and talking with various musicians over the years that they listen to different things than your average fellow. Although they also differ musician to musician!

To give just two examples:

A friend who was a bassist always listened to the bass line. I never consciously even noticed any bass part because I was only interested in the vocal and lead guitar. This is just a matter of focusing on what interests the listener.

Another musician was only concerned with whether he could hear all of the notes he played clearly in a recording. All the audiophile stuff of soundstage and bloom and magic and PRaT was not even a consideration.

To me, the performance is head and shoulders more important than the recording quality, as long as the recording is listenable. I'd rather hear a 1915 Pablo Casals recording than a 2005 Yo-Yo Ma.

The finest recording ever made of crap is still crap. Whereas a below average recording of a brilliant rendition of something should still retain enough of the original to be moving to the listener if he turns off his critical engineer ear, relaxes, and floats downstream.
post #2705 of 3714
Origen,

While it's true that a bad performance (playing) and/or interpretation always trumps great sound quality, I really can't understand why we shouldn't get the benefit of great performance and great interpretation and great sound quality when recordings that excel in performance, interpretation, and sound quality exist in abundance! As a multiple Mahler collector I do recognize the value of older historic performances but for everyday listening, the experience of a great performance of any of Mahler's works in pristeen sound is so extraordinary that I much prefer listening to a newer recording than anything produced before the golded age of stereo recording. It is the quest for that perfect experience that compels me to go the concert halls as well. The sound of the performance is what it's all about -- and how it sounds depends on three factors: interpretation, playing and accoustics. Mahler is not as enjoyable in a hall with a dead accoustic as it is in a hall with a great accoustic and a recording with poor sound quality is not as enjoyable as a recording with great sound quality.
post #2706 of 3714
Bunny,

There are performances from the past that are incredible and cannot be bettered. I gave a non-Mahler example in my post, of Casals 1915. Are you just going to skip him because it isn't hi-fi? I'm not. I might very well find a very nice modern substitute, but the substitute is going to be different, not what was the essence of Casals. I'm happy enough with both, but I'd be more likely to neglect the modern recording by even an excellent player over a genius from the past on a relatively primitive recording.

The SACD recording of Mahler 9 conducted by Michael Tilson-Thomas is absolutely gorgeous. I can't imagine a better recording. But the interpretation sucked, so I sold it almost immediately. So what if Horenstein or Levine were not recorded as well. They were recorded well enough, and I can use my mind to flesh out the playback to experience the original vicariously.

Sure, in the best scenario everything would come together. But I maintain that the acoustics are not nearly as important as the interpetation and performance. As long as the recording is, say, C- or better, and the interpretation & performance are A, that's better to me than an A+ recording of any interpretation & performance that are less than A.
post #2707 of 3714
I like Simon Rattle's emi live recordings of the Mahler Symphonies, especially the 10th...
post #2708 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Origen
Bunny,

There are performances from the past that are incredible and cannot be bettered. I gave a non-Mahler example in my post, of Casals 1915. Are you just going to skip him because it isn't hi-fi? I'm not. I might very well find a very nice modern substitute, but the substitute is going to be different, not what was the essence of Casals. I'm happy enough with both, but I'd be more likely to neglect the modern recording by even an excellent player over a genius from the past on a relatively primitive recording.

The SACD recording of Mahler 9 conducted by Michael Tilson-Thomas is absolutely gorgeous. I can't imagine a better recording. But the interpretation sucked, so I sold it almost immediately. So what if Horenstein or Levine were not recorded as well. They were recorded well enough, and I can use my mind to flesh out the playback to experience the original vicariously.

Sure, in the best scenario everything would come together. But I maintain that the acoustics are not nearly as important as the interpetation and performance. As long as the recording is, say, C- or better, and the interpretation & performance are A, that's better to me than an A+ recording of any interpretation & performance that are less than A.
I have plenty of Casals, in fact I cut my teeth on him! While I respect his recordings, they aren't what I choose to listen to on a daily basis because the recording quality is very primitive -- especially those 1915 recordings which only give an approximation of how wonderful he must have sounded in concert.

The truth is that there are plenty of modern performances of excellence that are available in pristeen modern sound. I don't particularly care for MTT's M9 but I love Chailly's recording of the same symphony in SACD/hybrid too. I also love Karel Ancerl's which is probably my favorite. That's not in the most modern, perfect sound but it is still excellent stereo quality. As for MTT, his M2 does have Lorraine Hunt Lieberson singing in that marvelous SACD sound and that's definitely worth spending the money on.

Genius from the past is good, but genius today is just as good. Btw, I'd rather listen to Anner Bylsma's recordings of the Bach Cello Suites anyday over any of the Casal recordings -- especially the recording made on the Servais Stradivarius. Casals was a giant in his day as were Du Pre, Fournier and Starke. Today we have Queyras, Bylsma, Wispelwey, Isserlis and others who have not yet gotten famous. Historic recordings can be illuminating, but so can more modern recordings which actually sound better. That's why the old, antique recordings are not my daily bread and butter. I'll let you have the antiques, all of the C minus sound quality recordings. I'll keep the modern recordings with the A plus performances.
post #2709 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Origen
Bunny,

There are performances from the past that are incredible and cannot be bettered. I gave a non-Mahler example in my post, of Casals 1915. Are you just going to skip him because it isn't hi-fi? I'm not. I might very well find a very nice modern substitute, but the substitute is going to be different, not what was the essence of Casals. I'm happy enough with both, but I'd be more likely to neglect the modern recording by even an excellent player over a genius from the past on a relatively primitive recording.

The SACD recording of Mahler 9 conducted by Michael Tilson-Thomas is absolutely gorgeous. I can't imagine a better recording. But the interpretation sucked, so I sold it almost immediately. So what if Horenstein or Levine were not recorded as well. They were recorded well enough, and I can use my mind to flesh out the playback to experience the original vicariously.

Sure, in the best scenario everything would come together. But I maintain that the acoustics are not nearly as important as the interpetation and performance. As long as the recording is, say, C- or better, and the interpretation & performance are A, that's better to me than an A+ recording of any interpretation & performance that are less than A.
Origen,

Do you play an instrument or have you played in an orchestra? (Not trying to be insulting -- just curious) If you've played with an orchestra, you know that the conductor is in charge of two things: tempo and dynamics. You might have liked the way Walter or Horenstein or Field conducted, but it's not like they had some sort of ability that cannot be replicated. Any conductor, and probably most amateurs, can replicate Walter's performance today if they listened to his recording and copied his tempi and his dynamics; they just choose not to. I believe music evolved, and young conductors today learn more about the music and what tempi work well and don't work well, and which instruments to bring out. There is nothing inherently better about one interpretation over another (I am excluding the really bad ones where the tempi just don't make sense). Sure, you may like the brass section to be a little louder in a certain passage, while Abbado thinks Mahler intended the brass to be in the background in that passage, but these are just subjective decisions; the music itself does not change.

Musicians are also, on the average, better today than they were before. There is intense competitions for top orchestras in the world. When Bud Herseth left his principal trumpet seat with the CSO, hundreds of trumpeters came to audition for that spot (I believe it was around 250 or so). In the 50s, that was not the case.

Information is also a lot more accessible today than it was before, meaning people like Zander (or even Kaplan) can spend months or years studying a Mahler symphony to know it inside and out, something that really was not possible when Kubelik or Horenstein recorded their set. Sure, you could go to the library and check out a book on Mahler, but it's quite a different world today.

So where does that leave us? Conductors who have learned from prior performances, better musicians, incredible sound quality, and more knowledge both about Mahler-the-man and his music. Certainly, classic performance are classic for a reason. They were often the first, or the best at that time, or the only one available at that time. They were often by conductors that premiered the performance in the United States. But I can guarantee you that any conductor and most amateurs can waive their baton as fast or as slow as Bernstein or Horenstein or Abbado or Walter, and any conductor can hold out his left arm to tell the violas to play quieter or the horns to bring a passage out.

Just my opinion, and I also realize that 98% of the people in the classical music circle will disagree with it.
post #2710 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard
Origen,

Do you play an instrument or have you played in an orchestra? (Not trying to be insulting -- just curious) If you've played with an orchestra, you know that the conductor is in charge of two things: tempo and dynamics. You might have liked the way Walter or Horenstein or Field conducted, but it's not like they had some sort of ability that cannot be replicated. Any conductor, and probably most amateurs, can replicate Walter's performance today if they listened to his recording and copied his tempi and his dynamics; they just choose not to. I believe music evolved, and young conductors today learn more about the music and what tempi work well and don't work well, and which instruments to bring out. There is nothing inherently better about one interpretation over another (I am excluding the really bad ones where the tempi just don't make sense). Sure, you may like the brass section to be a little louder in a certain passage, while Abbado thinks Mahler intended the brass to be in the background in that passage, but these are just subjective decisions; the music itself does not change.

Musicians are also, on the average, better today than they were before. There is intense competitions for top orchestras in the world. When Bud Herseth left his principal trumpet seat with the CSO, hundreds of trumpeters came to audition for that spot (I believe it was around 250 or so). In the 50s, that was not the case.

Information is also a lot more accessible today than it was before, meaning people like Zander (or even Kaplan) can spend months or years studying a Mahler symphony to know it inside and out, something that really was not possible when Kubelik or Horenstein recorded their set. Sure, you could go to the library and check out a book on Mahler, but it's quite a different world today.

So where does that leave us? Conductors who have learned from prior performances, better musicians, incredible sound quality, and more knowledge both about Mahler-the-man and his music. Certainly, classic performance are classic for a reason. They were often the first, or the best at that time, or the only one available at that time. They were often by conductors that premiered the performance in the United States. But I can guarantee you that any conductor and most amateurs can waive their baton as fast or as slow as Bernstein or Horenstein or Abbado or Walter, and any conductor can hold out his left arm to tell the violas to play quieter or the horns to bring a passage out.

Just my opinion, and I also realize that 98% of the people in the classical music circle will disagree with it.
I dunno, I don't think you can just throw stuff out like "Zander knew Mahler better than Kubelik because he has better access to information" and then say "that's my opinion" - I don't think it's something that can be quantified or measured.. that all a conductor controls is "dynamics and tempo" is to vasty discount the lifes' work of every conductor in the world. To say that any conductor could duplicate Walter's performance simply by listening to records is to reduce Walter's work from student/friend of Mahler and spiritual mentor to a whole generation of conductors (including Bernstein), to being nothing but a human metronome.

-jar
post #2711 of 3714
Seacard,

And any guy who has watched football games on TV could do just as well as any coach. What kind of skill does it take, anyway, to tell the team to go out there and run play 5A?

If the owners find out about this, they're liable to save a few million bucks and hire some beer drinker in a T-shirt with cable TV to coach for them.
post #2712 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
I'll let you have the antiques, all of the C minus sound quality recordings. I'll keep the modern recordings with the A plus performances.
Great, I really appreciate it. I will send you my mailing address. I assume you want me to pay the postage?
post #2713 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Origen
Seacard,

And any guy who has watched football games on TV could do just as well as any coach. What kind of skill does it take, anyway, to tell the team to go out there and run play 5A?

If the owners find out about this, they're liable to save a few million bucks and hire some beer drinker in a T-shirt with cable TV to coach for them.
That's actually partly true, since much of it is luck. A player makes the catch and the coach looks like a genius. A player drops the ball, and the coach looks like a fool. However, I can't remember the hundreds of pages of playbooks and know when to call which play. If I could (which would take years of studying every combination and play ever run), then yes, that would make me a coach. How is that different from any other coach?

Masonjar -

I don't think it diminishes Walter's skill any to say that others could replicate his performance. Do you think Picasso or Dali are less of a painter because sreet artists in NY can replicate their paintings? It would simply be a copy of a revolutionary performance, nothing more. The point is merely that today's conductors learn from the conductors of the past.
post #2714 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard
That's actually partly true, since much of it is luck.
Chess is all luck too: It all depends on whether your opponent is lucky enough to guess what you're thinking.
post #2715 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard
Origen,

Do you play an instrument or have you played in an orchestra? (Not trying to be insulting -- just curious) If you've played with an orchestra, you know that the conductor is in charge of two things: tempo and dynamics. You might have liked the way Walter or Horenstein or Field conducted, but it's not like they had some sort of ability that cannot be replicated. Any conductor, and probably most amateurs, can replicate Walter's performance today if they listened to his recording and copied his tempi and his dynamics; they just choose not to. I believe music evolved, and young conductors today learn more about the music and what tempi work well and don't work well, and which instruments to bring out. There is nothing inherently better about one interpretation over another (I am excluding the really bad ones where the tempi just don't make sense). Sure, you may like the brass section to be a little louder in a certain passage, while Abbado thinks Mahler intended the brass to be in the background in that passage, but these are just subjective decisions; the music itself does not change.

Musicians are also, on the average, better today than they were before. There is intense competitions for top orchestras in the world. When Bud Herseth left his principal trumpet seat with the CSO, hundreds of trumpeters came to audition for that spot (I believe it was around 250 or so). In the 50s, that was not the case.

Information is also a lot more accessible today than it was before, meaning people like Zander (or even Kaplan) can spend months or years studying a Mahler symphony to know it inside and out, something that really was not possible when Kubelik or Horenstein recorded their set. Sure, you could go to the library and check out a book on Mahler, but it's quite a different world today.

So where does that leave us? Conductors who have learned from prior performances, better musicians, incredible sound quality, and more knowledge both about Mahler-the-man and his music. Certainly, classic performance are classic for a reason. They were often the first, or the best at that time, or the only one available at that time. They were often by conductors that premiered the performance in the United States. But I can guarantee you that any conductor and most amateurs can waive their baton as fast or as slow as Bernstein or Horenstein or Abbado or Walter, and any conductor can hold out his left arm to tell the violas to play quieter or the horns to bring a passage out.

Just my opinion, and I also realize that 98% of the people in the classical music circle will disagree with it.

Complete rubbish. Just my opinion of course...

The technical playing of todays musicians is indeed, on average, better than ever... but that doesn't mean they're better musicians.

As for conductors, you can say they've learn't from past performers, and thats true. But too many of todays conductors just listen to whats gone before and copy what they like. In the old days when a conductor was learning a score he had to play it himself at a piano or visualize (auralize?) a score in his head with no assistance from recordings. As a result most knew there scores better than the average joe conductor of today. There are exceptions of course! 'The Composer's Advocate' by Erich Leinsdorf is an interesting read if you can get hold of a copy.

Also even a conductor can copy tempos etc, they can't emulate the exact sound. Not possible.

BTW all Kubelik or Horenstein needed to know the Mahler symphonies properly was the score, and I think they had that! Not to mention the added advantage they had that some of the musicians they would have worked with would have played under Mahler.
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