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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 189

post #2821 of 3690
I'm listening on this Sunday night to Karajan's live M9 (as part of my "autumnal Karajan" renaissance instigated by DA).



It's a beautiful, unique (somewhat detatched, but in a good way) performance, with sound that is a lot better than most digital Karajans, but even so it makes me realize that I have become spoiled with the spectacular and natural sound quality of recent SACD (and some CD) releases. The recent Bertini set, Fischer M2, and Zander SACD sets come to mind.

What does everyone think is sonically (not necessarily performance) the best M9 out there? I personally think it might be Bertini! Karajan kills Bertini in performance, but the engineering on Bertini is a marvel. The MTT M9 sounds nice but none of that set has really appealed to me sonically - the acoustics of the recording venue don't really work for me.

Thoughts?
post #2822 of 3690
I don't own the Bertini set, but the best recording of the M9 sonically that I have heard is probably Chailly. The spectacularly warm acoustic of the Concertgebouw and the unique sound of the Concertgebouworkest combined with a really great recording and mastering job, plus being available in SACD...

I must disagree about the sonics of the MTT set. I think they're great in general. I do think the 9th and the 7th aren't quite as good sonically as the rest of the set, but the sound on the rest is about as good as it gets in my opinion. However, the orchestra does have a different sound flavor, sort of the opposite of the Cocertgebouworkest. Very brazen and on the dryer side, which is a huge strength at times and a hinderance at others. But I suppose that's true of any sound signature. And yes, Davies Hall is a very immediate, detail-rich venue with less bloom than many other places.

-Jay
post #2823 of 3690
I suppose not having a top-end sound system can actually be an advantage, as one has to focus on interpretation rather than being seduced by sheer sound.

That's what I keep telling myself.


(Currently contemplating investigating Barbirolli in Mahler.)
post #2824 of 3690
Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeresist View Post
I suppose not having a top-end sound system can actually be an advantage, as one has to focus on interpretation rather than being seduced by sheer sound.

That's what I keep telling myself.


(Currently contemplating investigating Barbirolli in Mahler.)
Nah, no matter how good your sound system gets, you still have to focus on interpretation rather than being seduced by sheer sound. The better sound is just an advantage for the lucky occasions when your favorite interpretation happens to be recorded in good sound.

Well, I suppose there are some people who would rather have good sound quality than a good interpretation, but luckily we have a good body of members here that is not so inclined.

-Jay
post #2825 of 3690

sonically good M9's

--Maazel/Vienna (and it has terrific string playing; this, along with the 4th is the best of his Vienna/Mahler series, IMO)
--MTT (but I didn't like the performance much)
--Dohnanyi/Cleveland (ditto)
--on DVD: Abbado/Lucerne (but the sound is slightly out of sync with the video and the manufacturer promised me that they will replace these defective copies after 1/07--I'm about to email them again).
--if you like Haitink, try to locate the Christmas day live performance he gave at the Concertgebouw at the end of his tenure as music director. The sound is much better than the Phillips commercial recording.
--Wyn Morris (don't remember the orchestra). This one's hard to find, but it has the virtue of separating the violins, along with a very intense performance.
post #2826 of 3690
Talking about sound quality and concert halls, last night I caught the Urlicht and finale of the M2 on PBS DT (hi def station) by the Nashville SO conducted by Leonard Slatkin with Frederica von Stade and Janice Chandler-Eteme. The program said a lot about how the new hall has perfect accoustics with architecture based on the Musikverein. I haven't heard any recordings from there, but everything sounded good. Anyone know anything about this hall or the Nashville SO?
post #2827 of 3690
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbarach View Post
--Maazel/Vienna (and it has terrific string playing; this, along with the 4th is the best of his Vienna/Mahler series, IMO)
--MTT (but I didn't like the performance much)
--Dohnanyi/Cleveland (ditto)
--on DVD: Abbado/Lucerne (but the sound is slightly out of sync with the video and the manufacturer promised me that they will replace these defective copies after 1/07--I'm about to email them again).
--if you like Haitink, try to locate the Christmas day live performance he gave at the Concertgebouw at the end of his tenure as music director. The sound is much better than the Phillips commercial recording.
--Wyn Morris (don't remember the orchestra). This one's hard to find, but it has the virtue of separating the violins, along with a very intense performance.
James Judd also has a very good M9 with the European Community Youth Orchestra with very good sq as well. It used to be priced for the budget, but that seems to have changed.

post #2828 of 3690
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbarach View Post
sonically good M9's

--Wyn Morris (don't remember the orchestra). This one's hard to find, but it has the virtue of separating the violins, along with a very intense performance.
The interweb tells me it was the "London Symphonica", which Morris established himself in order to present Mahler's symphonies in Britain.
post #2829 of 3690
I recently acquired Boulez's 6th after sitting on the fence about buying it for a long time. My reaction to other issues in Boulez's Mahler cycle have been mixed. He always always has moments of genius where I am surprised to hear parts of the music in a way I never have before depsite hearing the piece a million times. But then there are also usually parts where I feel he totally misses the point or loses the so-fragile flow that holds together these massive symphonies.

His 6th, though, is a total success, if you ask me. I can't say it has leapfrogged my previous favorites into the top spot, but it could after a few more comparative listenings. Definitely one I will hang on to and listen to many times in the future whether it captures my No. 1 position or not.

And what playing by the Wiener Philharmoniker, by the way! Hurwitz and anyone else who says the Vienna players can't or won't play Mahler needs to have their ears examined.

-Jay
post #2830 of 3690
The Chailly has the best recorded sound of any version I've heard of the 9th, but more importantly, it is a very good performance. The MTT 9th was sleekly recorded, but the performance soft-pedaled the harsh edges of the piece, seriously misrepresenting what M9 should sound like. The Dohnanyi M9 is well recorded, and I like the performance much more than MTT. The finale is too dour and resigned for my taste, but I like the way Dohnanyi lets the climaxes implode in the first movement by suddenly letting the line go slack, instead of driving the beat hard into each climax. That's subtle and insightful. The Abbado/BPO M9 is passionate, but I have not liked the sound of any of the DG recordings of Abbado in the last decade or so. They've gone to this distant pick-up that loses presence and detail. I suppose they are trying for sweep, but Abbado's style needs intimacy, not sweep.

Mark
post #2831 of 3690
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark from HFR View Post
The Chailly has the best recorded sound of any version I've heard of the 9th, but more importantly, it is a very good performance. The MTT 9th was sleekly recorded, but the performance soft-pedaled the harsh edges of the piece, seriously misrepresenting what M9 should sound like. The Dohnanyi M9 is well recorded, and I like the performance much more than MTT. The finale is too dour and resigned for my taste, but I like the way Dohnanyi lets the climaxes implode in the first movement by suddenly letting the line go slack, instead of driving the beat hard into each climax. That's subtle and insightful. The Abbado/BPO M9 is passionate, but I have not liked the sound of any of the DG recordings of Abbado in the last decade or so. They've gone to this distant pick-up that loses presence and detail. I suppose they are trying for sweep, but Abbado's style needs intimacy, not sweep.

Mark
Hi Mark,

I've always loved the Chailly 9th and 3rd, the SACD of the 3rd was the first one I bought from his cycle. I also have to agree about the MTT 9th which I find too sleek and shiny. Even so, I'd jump at any tickets to hear MTT and the SFSO live doing Mahler as they really deliver in concert.

I really have given up on Abbado's Mahler. It's so introspective it seems to lose touch with the emotions. I know that Gielen and Bertini are supposed to be cold, but Abbado is so damn diffident that I just can't take it anymore.
post #2832 of 3690
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears View Post
I really have given up on Abbado's Mahler. It's so introspective it seems to lose touch with the emotions.
Have you heard his DVD of M2? I'd disagree with you completely if you thought this performance was cold.
post #2833 of 3690
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayG View Post
And what playing by the Wiener Philharmoniker, by the way! Hurwitz and anyone else who says the Vienna players can't or won't play Mahler needs to have their ears examined.
As further evidence against Hurwitz's remark, check out Maazel's M4 and M9. You may or may not like the performance, but the playing is excellent. They don't do too badly for Kaplan's M2, either (but please shoot the soloists!).
post #2834 of 3690
If it's the same as the Lucerne Festival Orchestra M2 that is on sacd, I have heard it and it's not cold, it's just so restrained that I think of it as Mahler with a stiff upper lip. Moreover, the sq is awful, it's muffled and despite bumping up the volume, it's still sounds recessed in places. I've gotten 3 versions of that cd and no matter what I do, the sq is at best mediocre. I don't think seeing him waving a baton is going to improve how it sounds.
post #2835 of 3690
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbarach View Post
As further evidence against Hurwitz's remark, check out Maazel's M4 and M9. You may or may not like the performance, but the playing is excellent. They don't do too badly for Kaplan's M2, either (but please shoot the soloists!).
I don't know whether the WP is a great Mahler band, a good Mahler band or a reluctant one as stated by DH. I do know that they don't program a lot of Mahler on tour. The last time I saw them, Muti was conducting the Schubert 8th (Die Grosse) and it was a fine performance except that everyone was comparing it to the extraordinary Barenboim/Chicago SO performance of the same of a few weeks before. However the WP does have a wonderful, lush sound that really shone to advantage in the Strauss waltzes. I don't know if it was Muti or the WP, but the Hindemith that opened the program was competently executed but not something to remember as particularly exciting.
When I see them again next season, they will be conducted by Valery Gergiev, but again, no Mahler has been programmed.

Edit: One of the reasons the Barenboim Schubert was better than the WP's is probably because where Barenboim used a light string force, Muti had the full complement out, including double the number of bass viols which gave a very string heavy sound with little transparency. I won't say that the WP has trouble playing Schubert as I suspect that much of the performance was determined by Muti. Also, my taste in Schubert runs to Harnoncourt, Immerseel, Weil and Br├╝ggen rather than the plushly upholstered sound of the WP.

By the way, the best Mahler bands I've heard live would have to be the Chicago SO, the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the SFSO.
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