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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 190

post #2836 of 3686
Brahms!

BRAHMS!!

BRAHMS!!!


Er, I mean "Mahler!"

Sorry, I've just booked tickets for all the Brahms symphonies, plus the requiem, to see at the opera house with the Sydney Symphony led by Gianluigi Gelmetti (chief conductor). As I haven't attended a classical music concert in my adult life, I'm naturally a bit excited.

The reason I mention this in a Mahler thread is that, looking through this year's program, I see there'll be Mahler's 6th led by young Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who is rather an unknown quantity. His recording of M4 got some praise, it seems, but I think he may be something of a literalist.

Can anyone give references for or against? I may end up going anyway, of course...
post #2837 of 3686
Definitely go. I don't know anything about that conductor, but Mahler live is a whole different experience. I'm sure you'll be extremely happy you went. And he will be given the gift of a good orchestra to conduct, as well. I don't know what their history is with Mahler, but I'm sure they will do just fine.

-Jay
post #2838 of 3686
I second what JayG said, Mahler live is ALWAYS worth seeing IMHO.
post #2839 of 3686
I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but I've been to 2 Mahler performances that I wish I had skipped. They were both M4s, one by Rattle and the other by Eschenbach. The Eschenbach was better thought out than the Rattle but poorly played and the singing was inaudible. For the Rattle performance, the orchestra was a marvel of virtuousity even if I didn't care for the way it sounded (very thin in the strings which is not great for Mahler), and the interpretation was so bizarre as to be a dead loss. In addition, the singer sounded so earthy and matronly that if you closed your eyes you would have imagined a very mature (say close to 60) woman singing. I would have gratefully dispensed with either performance. However, when it all works out it's just amazing. A performance with the Budapest Festival Orchestra just before their recordings came out was a terrific surprise.

In the end, you have to decide whether you "feel lucky," and whether you want to gamble the price of a ticket on the program. If the 6th is done well, it's awe inspiring. If it's not, then at least you have a reference for what you don't like in a symphony.
post #2840 of 3686
Always gamble on hearing Mahler live is my recommendation. Some concerts won't take off, but the ones that do will blow you mind. This Nezet-Seguin must have something going for him, as he was just named Gergiev's successor at the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Anyway, always gamble. Because if you don't, you've already lost!

Mark
post #2841 of 3686
Yep. And for someone who has never heard a Mahler symphony live, I doubt that they would be disappointed unless the orchestra simply couldn't play it. It's so much better live that a lot of things can be forgiven, especially the first time.

-Jay
post #2842 of 3686
Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. Guess I'll have to go now!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark from HFR View Post
Anyway, always gamble. Because if you don't, you've already lost!
I'm staking my life savings as we speak!
post #2843 of 3686
It's like those mastercard ads,

cost of tickets, X dollars.
joy of Mahler, priceless.
post #2844 of 3686
Revisiting the Dohnanyi/Cleveland recording of Mahler's Ninth tonight. I wouldn't rank it in the top handful, but as always with Dohnanyi, there is a very compelling sinewy quality that is grimly impressive. Compared to a Boulez or a Bertini, Dohnanyi is darker. He is similarly more cerebral than emotional, but yet his palette is somehow darker and grimmer. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but I sure get the feeling when I listen to Dohnanyi conduct Mahler that Dohnanyi has a very dark, pessimistic view of humanity (and who can blame him, losing family members to the Nazis in WWII). I sometimes think that he sees Mahler as a prophet of doom & gloom, despite his stance as a conductor of absolute, cerebral music. In other words, this is pretty much the polar opposite of a warm performance like Barbirolli's, Bruno Walter's, or even Bernstein's alternately hot and cold approach. Dohnanyi inhabits the same icy neighborhood as Horenstein and Klemperer, finding extraordinary bitterness in parts of this work. That is an acquired taste, but once you get it in your tongue, it can sure make other performances seem bland in those spots. For Dohnanyi, a good example is the closing section of the second movement, where even the quiet parts seem to come from between clenched teeth, and the solos (especially the viola and contrabassoon) are very pointed, not just glossed over. Strong stuff, and well worth a listen for those who know what they're in for.

Mark
post #2845 of 3686
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayG View Post
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
David Hurwitz is an interesting case. He'll blast stuff, then suddenly prasie something to the skies (Rattle's Dvorak, Norrigtons SWR Beethoven). He's opinonated and often wrong, but not entirely deaf.

Hurwitz himself has complimented the Vienna Phil on a few occasions in Mahler, including Mehta's terrific M2 and Berstein's controversal but distinguished DG Mahler cycle. At the same time, he has balked at Maazel's Mahler 5 for Sony. So he's not perfect, maybe even stupid, but there are times where I myself question this orchestra's commitment to Mahler.
post #2846 of 3686
One thing must be kept in mind about the fabled Wiener Philharmoniker: you get different results depending on whose in the playing pool. There are 150 or so musicians in that orchestra. In Mahler recording, you might need 70 - 80. So who do you get? Depends on who you are, for one thing. Bernstein and Maazel are loved enough by the orchestra that they could get the players they wanted. In Bernstein's case, it was more complicated because the orchestra (and Vienna in general) still hadn't really taken Mahler to heart. By the time Maazel came in, the orchestra realized that Mahler is a major part of their heritage -- like it or not. Over all, I find Maazel's orchestra having much more gemutlichkeit than Bernstein's more brazen versions.
Given the right conductor, that orchestra can do Mahler unlike any other. The Andante set with Bruno Walter in Vienna is proof enough.
post #2847 of 3686
I read a little about Barbirolli's Brahms cycle with Vienna recently. The poor guy didn't get much respect - after careful rehearsal, he'd find different musicians turning up to the recording sessions. (The LSO used to be like that; have a read of "Orchestra: The LSO: A Century of Triumph and Turbulence" by Richard Morrison.)
He said at the time, "They are living off their reputation, not renewing it".
post #2848 of 3686
They can also play like pigs. There's a live recording of the Schmidt 2nd symphony, which is admitidly extremely difficult, yet the strings totally woof the introduction -- just a mess. With Leinsdorf even. Some of their Salzburg Live recordings from the 50's are not flattering. There's a live Rite of Spring with the opening bassoonists totally screwing up the solo.
I've heard them live several times. WIth Abbado doing Mahler and Maazel doing Strauss' Elektra they were sensational. With Bernstein doing Brahms they were boring, and with Karajan doing Strauss they were just frigid. They're so steeped in tradition that moving into the 21st century has been a challenge. What they need (and will NEVER accept) is a regular music director. But then, in the opinion of most of the players, there's no one worthy of that title. The ones who were are all dead.
post #2849 of 3686
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
They can also play like pigs. There's a live recording of the Schmidt 2nd symphony, which is admitidly extremely difficult, yet the strings totally woof the introduction -- just a mess. With Leinsdorf even. Some of their Salzburg Live recordings from the 50's are not flattering. There's a live Rite of Spring with the opening bassoonists totally screwing up the solo.
I've heard them live several times. WIth Abbado doing Mahler and Maazel doing Strauss' Elektra they were sensational. With Bernstein doing Brahms they were boring, and with Karajan doing Strauss they were just frigid. They're so steeped in tradition that moving into the 21st century has been a challenge. What they need (and will NEVER accept) is a regular music director. But then, in the opinion of most of the players, there's no one worthy of that title. The ones who were are all dead.
Yay! They can't pick Simon Rattle!

Bernstien's Brahms was generally boring overall, athough watching the Op. 77 Kremer collaboration may change my mind slightly.

Also keep in mind that the Berlin Philharmonic did not really distinguish itself during the 50's, either nor did the LSO, or anyone in particular on a regular basis in Europe after WWII.

It took conductors like Friscay (1958 9th, for example) to inspire Berlin and also Vienna (IMHO), and Erich/Carlos Klieber, George Szell, Karajan and other guest conductors to help re-establish Vienna as a powerhouse orchestra. Later, Zubin Mehta, James Levine, and others been very successful in Vienna, while conductors such as Fritz Reiner and Christian Thelmiann (i spelled that wrong) have not had luck.

They may be seeped in tradition, but they're damn inconsistant, even factoring in WWII and some questionable podium leadership.
post #2850 of 3686
Quote:
Originally Posted by BAwig05 View Post
Also keep in mind that the Berlin Philharmonic did not really distinguish itself during the 50's, either nor did the LSO, or anyone in particular on a regular basis in Europe after WWII.
Philharmonia?
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