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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 185

post #2761 of 3700
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayG
Not anymore. Thanks for the heads-up. I had been contemplating buying this set for quite some time, but I wasn't going to fork over the $120 - $180 that other stores/sellers wanted. I have his version of the 10th, and it is outstanding. I hope the rest of the set lives up.
-Jay
Jay
How do you like the Gielen set?

Must wake up the Mahler faithful since 3 weeks with no posts, unfortunately I have nothing new for Mahler on the horizon but want to hear what others are buying and what they think.........
post #2762 of 3700
Actually I just received it today. Unfortunately, the dealer in Japan sent it to the wrong address. It was one of the addresses listed on my PayPal, but not the one I am living at now. Luckily a family member still lives there so they were able to send it on after a slight delay. But I will start listening soon and post impressions.

-Jay
post #2763 of 3700
And here I was thinking everyone had abandoned this thread...

Well, I do have news. In today's mail was the new M2 with Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra on Channel Classics. I've listened to it once, and here's my first impression:

The SACD sound is stupendously good. Extremely natural, unforced. The detail in the woodwinds is magnificent. No distortions, even when the organ, choir and all are blasting away.

Performance: very accurate, very precise attention to details. Some wonderful old world touches, such as string portamento handled better than I've ever heard. Singing is excellent. At first the conductor seems somewhat detached, almost like Boulez or Maazel, but don't fret, by the end he's really letting it rip, and the cumulative effect is overwhelming.

I wasn't too keen on Fischer, given his decision of the placement of the scherzo/andante in M6, but here he has totally convinced me that he is a Mahlerian to be reckoned with. I hope this indicates a full Mahler cycle to come. It so, it will set a high standard for SACD versions -- this M2 is much, much better than recent ones I've tried, like MTT, Boulez, Abaddo. Will this replace my favorite M2, Blomstedt? Maybe -- it really is wonderful.

For what it's worth, I really enjoyed Fischer's recent Rachmaninoff 2nd, and I know some people find it too cultured and civilized. I think his Mahler is similar -- it is more about Mahler and less about the conductor, the antipode of Bernstein.
post #2764 of 3700
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
Must wake up the Mahler faithful since 3 weeks with no posts, unfortunately I have nothing new for Mahler on the horizon but want to hear what others are buying and what they think.........
Update from a comparative newbie:

I've begun listening to the Bertini set (my first complete Mahler box), and enjoying the lovely sound and intelligent performances. That said, I'll be looking for something much darker and more emotional by way of contrast next time. Maybe Bernstein or Tennstedt?

I also bought the Barshai 5/10 on Brilliant. The 10 was interesting, particularly the extensive percussion (cymbal solo!). The 5 I found disappointing, especially given the hype it's received - perfect playing but unengaging, though the adagio was nice. Plus there was a repeated clicking/distortion in the left channel towards the end. The favourite 5 in my (very small) Mahler collection remains the obscure Michiyoshi Inoue/RPO, despite the unfortunately low levels.
post #2765 of 3700

new Mahler

I recently purchased Zander's Mahler 1 and Songs of a Wayfarer (Telarc). Headphone nuts won't care, but IMO the surround-sound SACD version is muddy and veiled compared to the 2-channel SACD or even the red-book version on the CD. The performance itself is excellent, with lots of excitement and a wealth of detail that I don't find in other performances. About the baritone, one reviewer said that he sounded just like Fischer-Dieskau. I thought so, too, until I went back and actually listened to F-D's far superior performance.

Abbado has excellent DVD's of Mahler 2 and Mahler 9. Great picture quality, excellent sound, exciting performances.
post #2766 of 3700
Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeresist
Update from a comparative newbie:

I've begun listening to the Bertini set (my first complete Mahler box), and enjoying the lovely sound and intelligent performances. That said, I'll be looking for something much darker and more emotional by way of contrast next time. Maybe Bernstein or Tennstedt?
I'm not sure you can get what you're looking for in a full set, but yes, Tennstedt's performances are on the darker side of things, esp. his 6th.

You might want to check out Sinopoli's (if you can find it) wonderful 5th. It's really one of a kind.

As far as the 9th? The darkest in my book is the Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic version from the early 80's... expensive, but classic.

Abaddo's 7th on DG from the 80's plays up the darker aspects of that work quite nicely.. though it's never been an emotional powerhouse in my book.

I've never really thought about the first 4 symphonies as being particularly "dark" - but for emotional power I'd go with these:


1st: Bruno Walter/Columbia Syphony
2nd: Mehta/Vienna Philharmonic
3rd: Bernstein/NYPhil (Sony)
4th: Inbal
post #2767 of 3700
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub
And here I was thinking everyone had abandoned this thread...

Well, I do have news. In today's mail was the new M2 with Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra on Channel Classics. I've listened to it once, and here's my first impression:

The SACD sound is stupendously good. Extremely natural, unforced. The detail in the woodwinds is magnificent. No distortions, even when the organ, choir and all are blasting away.

Performance: very accurate, very precise attention to details. Some wonderful old world touches, such as string portamento handled better than I've ever heard. Singing is excellent. At first the conductor seems somewhat detached, almost like Boulez or Maazel, but don't fret, by the end he's really letting it rip, and the cumulative effect is overwhelming.

I wasn't too keen on Fischer, given his decision of the placement of the scherzo/andante in M6, but here he has totally convinced me that he is a Mahlerian to be reckoned with. I hope this indicates a full Mahler cycle to come. It so, it will set a high standard for SACD versions -- this M2 is much, much better than recent ones I've tried, like MTT, Boulez, Abaddo. Will this replace my favorite M2, Blomstedt? Maybe -- it really is wonderful.

For what it's worth, I really enjoyed Fischer's recent Rachmaninoff 2nd, and I know some people find it too cultured and civilized. I think his Mahler is similar -- it is more about Mahler and less about the conductor, the antipode of Bernstein.
I'm so glad to hear that this M2 is really worth the wait.

I've been searching for a new M2 in digital sound, preferably Hybrid/Sacd and now perhaps my search will be over. I knew Fischer was a significant Mahlerian since hearing him conduct the M1 last season, which will hopefully be released soon as well. That introduction led me to his recording of the M6 which I didn't find as disappointing as you did. Perhaps now might be a good time to revisit it (me not you) as I await the M2.

I recall that you didn't care for Fischer's M6 because of the Scherzo positioning, but to my ears it was probably the best M6 that I had heard that placed the Scherzo third. It certainly beat the Abbado M6 wire to wire and actually was the only M6 I had ever listened to that made the Scherzo in 3rd position actually sound like an intelligent choice. For me that was a signal accomplishment.

Of course, my favorite M6 remains that of Oué which I find has both greater intensity and greater lyricism than even the Eschenbach which is very close, indeed. (The Gielen is too ponderous and while depressing enough, failed to convey the layer of sheer, anxious, panicky terror. The Levi I also found excellent, but it doesn't really have great heart stopping quality in the more lyrical passages and it omits the first exposition repeat as well . The Boulez, also very fine, was also a bit too cool and perhaps even disengaged; Mahler while in shock, perhaps?) The SACD sound quality of the Eschenbach, Oué, and Fisher M6s is probably some of the best SACD sound I've heard. Btw, I haven't heard an Andante by anyone that beats Oué's and his finale just hurls the listeners from the heights of optimism to the abyss of total despair and destruction -- and with only 2 hammerblows necessary. He also has the best cowbells, fwiw.

Btw, MTT's M2 will always be up there for me because of the superb work by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. I found the other M2s you mentioned, by Boulez and Abbado pretty dispensable. In fact, I found the sound quality of the Abbado M2 (Lucerne) was extremely problematic, being recessed and dull, whether in SACD, stereo or dvd. It would have needed the most brilliant of interpretations and performances to rise to the top because the sound quality is so indifferent.
post #2768 of 3700

Lets start at one...

I'm new here, but I've got two complete Mahler sets so far and climbing. I'll break it down 1-10

Symphony 1: I have Bruno Walter's on LP (Not bad for a 19 year old ). R. Kubliek's on DG is my favorite here, but Bernstein's unique, sometimes very slow approach has its appeal.

Symphony 2: Zubin Mehta does a stunning job, aided by wonderful Decca sonics. Truly a Decca Legend! Klemperer's is also excellent.

Symphony 3: Tennestedt is an excellent budget Mahler choice. Despite less than steller playing at times, he performed Mahler so passionatly that the Third is a success here.

Symphony 4: Reiner and Della Casa on RCA is quite good, and somewhat of a suprise. now availible on the Living Stereo series (SACD Hybrid) Bernstien DG is another choice.

Symphony 5: Again, Lenny on DG is a modern classic, but I also like Karajan on DG and Kubelik on Audite.

Symphony 6: Tennstedt is let down by less than great playing from London's Philharmonic, but this was his favorite Mahler work, and it shows! Karajan's DG recording is something special too. At the risk of sounding boring, I'll once again recomend Lenny on DG

Symphony 7: Not one I am too familiar with, so I hesitate to recomend anything with better reviewers before me. I think highly of Bernstien and Klaus Tennstedt's versions.

Symphony 8: My personal favorite. Solti, (Decca) Gielen (Hanssler), Bernstien (two choices DG/Vienna, Sony/LSO), Wit (Naxos) Chaily (Decca), Gary Bertini (EMI) Kent Nagano, and Klaus Tennstedt (EMI) are all good choices

Symphony 9: Karajan's DG recording is supposed to be quite special. I like Lenny's Sony effort over his DG one, but this is a matter of taste.

Symphony 10: Eugene Ormandy on Sony in the Premire of the Cooke edition. Just remastered and released. Historically important.

Song of the Earth: Klemperer on EMI is something really special. Bernstien, in one of his few Decca efforts, shines, as do his two (male) soloists.

Despite me being new. I hope this helps someone.

BW
post #2769 of 3700
For 90% of it, I think you have an excellent, even superb Mahler set. So what about the other 10%?

5: For the life of me I can't hear why people like Bernstein's 5th so much. It was not his stong suit to be sure. Gatti, Barenboim, even Levine are much better.

7: Bernstein is great, either Sony or DG. And you can't go wrong with Abaddo, Levine, Barenboim...

10: I love the Ormandy, and it was my first LP version, and it is a no-brainer to have it in every serious Mahler collection. However, I do think that there are better versions, if only for the fact that Deryck Cooke went back and revised his edition twice. So, for his final thoughts, Rattle is probably tops, with Sanderling right at his heels. The Levine is excellent, too. For other versions, the two Remo Mazzeti editions (one on Telarc, one on RCA) are very thoughtful and well done.

As to the 9th: Bernstein's DG version is an emotional gut-wrencher, but, the failure of the trombones to make an appearance at an important cue in the last movement rules it out as a top choice forever. The Karajan IS stunning.

Last thing: if you like Mahler, don't neglect the songs. They are beautiful in their own right, and add a lot to understanding how the symphonies came to be, esp. nos. 1 - 5.
post #2770 of 3700
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub
As to the 9th: Bernstein's DG version is an emotional gut-wrencher, but, the failure of the trombones to make an appearance at an important cue in the last movement rules it out as a top choice forever. The Karajan IS stunning.
Bernstein's DG Ninth with the Royal Concertgebouw from the 80s is a real gut-wrencher as well, and the trombones are clearly heard at the fourth movement climax. The Ninth you're referring to is the live 1979 recording with the Berlin Philharmonic. Not quite as well played as the RCO Ninth, but certainly a special occasion. Still, a mystery as to why the trombones didn't play there.
post #2771 of 3700
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masonjar
I've never really thought about the first 4 symphonies as being particularly "dark" - but for emotional power I'd go with these:

1st: Bruno Walter/Columbia Syphony
2nd: Mehta/Vienna Philharmonic
3rd: Bernstein/NYPhil (Sony)
4th: Inbal
Thanks for the suggestions! (And also big thanks to BAwig05)

The 1st isn't really bleak, but it does seem to have a wicked sense of humour. Actually, I think the "darkness" of Mahler has been exaggerated. I hear moments of great Schubertian beauty in all his symphonies.

As for the songs... I must confess I had to stop listening to Mahler for a while after the time I was listening to M1 while reading the words to Songs of a Wayfarer - and burst out laughing! At times I must agree with my friend who called Mahler "the world's oldest teenager".
post #2772 of 3700
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
Jay
How do you like the Gielen set?
Ok, I cracked open the Gielen set today and listened to M2. My reactions are mixed, but the one thing I can say for sure is that I can't wait to listen to the rest of the cycle. There were some true flashes of brilliance in the performance that convinced me that Gielen is the real deal when it comes to Mahler.

Take for example at about 3 minutes into the Andante moderato, where Gielen pulls the violins way back and really lets the cellos have the melody. The violins are still there providing a wonderful accompaniment, but the cellos clearly are the star here. In most interpretations, it's more of a toss up that doesn't provide such a great window into Mahler's beatiful counterpoint and harmony. This is just one bright spot in what is definitely one of the best 2nd movements I've ever heard. Really, really impressive.

Also, the buildup to the finale from when the chorus makes their first magical entrance until about 3:30 from the end when the organ and timpani come in is phenomenal. I think what makes it so great is that Gielen is not in a rush to the finish line. He takes his time, partially with casual tempi, but also with phrasing, and treats this part of the movement as having its own significant impact. I got the sense that if the chorus just gently, quietly brought the symphony to a close, it would still sound right. If you did that with most interpretations, it would be a jarring end and would leave you feeling cheated (which of course you would be if you missed such a finale as the one in question). When the finale does finally come, it sounds all the better thanks to Gielen's thoughtful build-up.

Gielen's Urlicht was very well done, and Cornelia Kallisch gave one of the best readings of the text I've heard so far (although she was a little too heavy of voice), aside from Lieberson. I doubt I'll ever hear an Urlicht that impresses me as much as MTT/Lieberson, so rest assured that this one is about as good as gets other than them.

Unfortunately, I wasn't as thrilled with the entire performance. I thought the first movement as a whole was pretty average. I felt like Gielen missed a lot of the gravitas of the funeral march, and he has a tendency for sudden accellerandi and ritardandi that feel a little jerky and contrived. The movement just didn't come off as shatteringly as it should. I felt similarly about some of the final movement before the choral entrace.

The other thing that bothered me was the unevenness of the orchestral playing. Here's the thing: Gielen's orchestra has some phenomenal players. All of the soli parts were played very well. And the ensemble sound of the orchestra is very good too. The problem is, every once in a while there seemed to be some synchronization problems. Quite a few times, especially in the first movement and the first part of the last movement, it sounded like some of the inner orchestral voices weren't quite on track with the melody. It's not that the playing was rhythmically sloppy, it's just that it seemed like some sections of the orchestra were a little off the beat. The other quibble I have with the playing is the balance at a few points. The percussion was almost too loud (and I'm a percussionist, so that's saying something) at a few points when they had a solo part, and too quiet most of the rest of the time. The strings were a little underbalanced during louder passages, as if they weren't playing their loudest, or there weren't enough od them to balance with the brass. These are minor complaints, but they were noticeable.

As for sound quality, it's good, but I also have a few minor concerns there. There is some smearing of images (possibly a sign of some spot miking that could also contribute to the orchestral balance issue?), and the overall soundstage isn't as large as some modern full orchestra recordings. That said, this disc has some of the best recorded bass response that I've heard. It's present and rich, but it sounds real, not overdone for effect. And the recorded sound for the chorus is just great. Finally you get a solid foundation on the bottom from the basses that can easily be drowned beneath the sopranos. In this recording you get an organic, well-balanced sound picture of the whole chorus, and the effect is very impressive.

So to sum it all up, it's good, but the drawbacks I mentioned keep it from being great. The middle three movements are fantastic, absolutely first class, as are parts of the Finale. But the first movement is not on the same level, and some apparent slips of togetherness in the orchestra are bothersome. But as I said at the beginning, I'm excited for the rest of the set, because we clearly are dealing with a conductor who has some real insight and a first-class orchestra recorded in modern sound.

Comparisons: For M2, I own Gielen, MTT, Abbado, Bernstein, Litton, Boulez, Klemperer, Rattle, Chailly, and Kaplan/LSO. I'd say Gielen is kind of a mix between Boulez and Litton. The performance as a whole is not overly flashy, and it seems to stress the music more than the theatrics, which is very much like Boulez (whose version I did like for the most part, but I had similar complaints with the first movement, and more complaint with the finale). But Gielen's phrasing is very thoughtful and varied, and he takes some liberties with changes of tempi, which reminds me of Litton's account.

We'll see how the rest of the set stacks up.

-Jay
post #2773 of 3700
Thread Starter 
I also thought the Gielen M2 was nothing special, but the M1 is another story and the M7 is also stronger vs existing versions. Only have heard those three.
post #2774 of 3700
I rather like Gielen's M2, although I do have to admit that no one has yet sung it as well nor will ever sing it better than Lorraine Hunt Lieberson for my taste. (Well, maybe that will change after I hear Eschenback doing the M2 later in the season )Gielen's M1 is also one of my favorites. I also like his M7 and the M10 (Cooke completion) recently released (not, I believe part of the set) is really excellent. That is still available at yourmusic. I also have to agree that for the M2, Lieberson really has it sewn up. I haven't heard anyone sing it better.

I also like Gielen's M6, but it's not quite in my top tier. It's very dark and depressed but I like a more adrenaline fueled interpretation -- panicked terror as opposed to mere doom and gloom.

Btw, for all Mahler lovers, here's a picture of Mt. Mahler in Colorado; the first mountain in America to be named for a composer.

post #2775 of 3700

Ah....

I can just picture speeding down the mountain side as the sounds of "Veni, Creator Spritus" cascade around me. Wouldn't that be cool....

I have a physical disabiity, so maybe not!

Has anyone heard Kubelik's complete DG set? His DG Mahler First and live efforts on Audite are very good, but has anyone invested in his full cycle? And any imput on Barbaroli as a Mahlerian?

Thanks,
Brian
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