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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 205

post #3061 of 3714
Kaplan/Conifer
Amatuer conductor doing the great Mahler 2 as his one and only performance.......you have to be joking right? Actually it is surprisingly good but not a first choice, still an amazing accomplishment.


yea, I was surprised at how good this one was too. Plus, it made be feel better knowing that there was someone out there obsessed enough to did what he did.. I felt more justified I guesss.. :-)


X2
post #3062 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
I should have added that Reiner's Mahler 4th is also a top recommendation. Reiner was quite fascinated by the Mahler 7th, and did it in Pittsburgh and Chicago. Too bad that at least an air check has never surfaced.
I own the Reiner M4, but honestly haven't spent much time with it, it may be time to break it out.
post #3063 of 3714

Kaplan's other recordings

Kaplan re-recorded the Mahler 2 for DG with the Vienna Philharmonic. This was issued in SACD surround. I thought the sound was excellent and the performance wasn't that difference than the Conifer--EXCEPT that the two vocal solosits on the remake are horrible.

Kaplan also recorded the Adagietto from Mahler 5 with the LSO as a single (very short!) CD. He did it to make the point that Mahler's letters indicate that it's meant as a love letter, not a funeral dirge (cf. Death in Venice soundtrack or Levine's nearly 15-minute recording in Philly). Kaplan did a nice job with it!
post #3064 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbarach View Post
Kaplan re-recorded the Mahler 2 for DG with the Vienna Philharmonic. This was issued in SACD surround. I thought the sound was excellent and the performance wasn't that difference than the Conifer--EXCEPT that the two vocal solosits on the remake are horrible.

Kaplan also recorded the Adagietto from Mahler 5 with the LSO as a single (very short!) CD. He did it to make the point that Mahler's letters indicate that it's meant as a love letter, not a funeral dirge (cf. Death in Venice soundtrack or Levine's nearly 15-minute recording in Philly). Kaplan did a nice job with it!
I bought that Conifer recording, because it came with an autograph score as well, not bad! (but too small to conduct from...)

Unfortunately Kaplin is literally an amateur. If you want to hear the Mahler 5 adagietto at a decent tempo, listen to Walter, not Kaplan.
post #3065 of 3714

Kaplan stuff

Quote:
Originally Posted by lwd View Post
Unfortunately Kaplin is literally an amateur. If you want to hear the Mahler 5 adagietto at a decent tempo, listen to Walter, not Kaplan.
I'll pass on that 1947 sound. Kaplan may be an amateur, but I think he does a job job with this movement. What don't you like about it?

Other non-funereal recordings of the M5 adagietto I like are Zander's and Barshai's.

The Conifer set called "Gilbert Kaplan Mahler Edition" also includes the booklet with the score of the first edition of M2, Mahler playing his own music via piano rolls (2 songs, first movement of M5 and last of M4). It contains a 20-minute audio of interviews with musicians who played under Mahler in New York. There is also supposed to be a file of 150 Mahler-related pictures, but it's nowhere to be found on my 2-disc set. Oh, and of course the set includes his first recording of M2 and a reissue of the CD single "From Mahler With Love" (M5 adagietto).
post #3066 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottder View Post
I own the Reiner M4, but honestly haven't spent much time with it, it may be time to break it out.
Definately one of the best.

-jar
post #3067 of 3714
lwd: Kaplan's reason for doing the Adagietto was to demonstrate that if taken at the "proper" tempo the movement loses nothing, in fact it gains in its expressivity. The "proper" tempo he inferred two ways: the obvious is the title is not Adagio but Adagietto. Then, to really confuse things, he marks Sehr Langsam (very slow) followed immediately by molto rit (slow down a lot) then back to the original tempo. And a dozen bars later nicht Schleppen (don't drag). What's a conductor to do? The second is the habit of orchestra players writing on the parts the time it took various conductors to play some music. We know beyond any doubt that music has slowed down in the last 100 years. Elgar took his symphonies much faster than more recent conductors and we have recordings to prove it. Eyewitnesses agree that Mahler and his apostles would conduct faster than modern conductors. That's ok with me, since I think the music gains a lot in expression by pulling back. Just not as far as Klemperer's insane ramblings: his 7th and 9th are so slow as to be unlistenable to me.
Bottom line for me is a happy medium -- Walter is fine. So is Kaplan an amateur? Yes, and a very wealthy one with one heck of a good hobby! Too bad he can't really read music and turn his attention to another symphony. BTW: that score that was published with the Conifer set is the original published version with many alterations from the standard performing edition. I can't even read that tiny score anymore.
post #3068 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
Eyewitnesses agree that Mahler and his apostles would conduct faster than modern conductors. That's ok with me, since I think the music gains a lot in expression by pulling back. Just not as far as Klemperer's insane ramblings: his 7th and 9th are so slow as to be unlistenable to me.
Bottom line for me is a happy medium -- Walter is fine.
I agree, modern performances can turn into a funeral dirge. I don't particularly mind slow performances, and even prefer some (Chailly, Bernstein, some of MTT). But when they get so slow to lose momentum, rhythm, and phrasing, there's a real problem. However, was Klemperer not a Mahler "apostle?" He conducted off-stage bands with Mahler at the helm. So, how would one explain his getting slower even though he worked with Mahler? Old age? Himself slowing down with his fraility?

I think it's a natural thing with conductors as they age. How many older conductors can you name that actually take/took pieces faster than they did when they were younger? Giulini became apocalyptically slow, same with Celibidache. Gunter Wand, Bernstein, Bohm, Solti, Klemperer, and Walter all got slower. Of course there are exceptions, and there are many that remain consistent. But, there just seems to be a tendency for this to happen.
post #3069 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
lwd: Kaplan's reason for doing the Adagietto was to demonstrate that if taken at the "proper" tempo the movement loses nothing, in fact it gains in its expressivity. The "proper" tempo he inferred two ways: the obvious is the title is not Adagio but Adagietto. Then, to really confuse things, he marks Sehr Langsam (very slow) followed immediately by molto rit (slow down a lot) then back to the original tempo. And a dozen bars later nicht Schleppen (don't drag). What's a conductor to do? The second is the habit of orchestra players writing on the parts the time it took various conductors to play some music. We know beyond any doubt that music has slowed down in the last 100 years. Elgar took his symphonies much faster than more recent conductors and we have recordings to prove it. Eyewitnesses agree that Mahler and his apostles would conduct faster than modern conductors. That's ok with me, since I think the music gains a lot in expression by pulling back. Just not as far as Klemperer's insane ramblings: his 7th and 9th are so slow as to be unlistenable to me.
Bottom line for me is a happy medium -- Walter is fine. So is Kaplan an amateur? Yes, and a very wealthy one with one heck of a good hobby! Too bad he can't really read music and turn his attention to another symphony. BTW: that score that was published with the Conifer set is the original published version with many alterations from the standard performing edition. I can't even read that tiny score anymore.
Sure, I wasn't trying to say I don't like his tempo, only that I don't really respect where he's coming from as, as you say, he can't really read music.... he just has a lot of money! Actually I know someone who he went to for conducting lessons and he said it was hard work! Meanwhile there are many conductors out there who have dedicated their lives to all aspects of music making and would do a better job if you put them in front of the LSO or VPO.
post #3070 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by lwd View Post
Sure, I wasn't trying to say I don't like his tempo, only that I don't really respect where he's coming from as, as you say, he can't really read music.... he just has a lot of money! Actually I know someone who he went to for conducting lessons and he said it was hard work! Meanwhile there are many conductors out there who have dedicated their lives to all aspects of music making and would do a better job if you put them in front of the LSO or VPO.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Leaving a wildly successful publishing business to go conduct one work isn't the mark of someone dedicated to "all aspects of music making"? I'm sorry, but I don't buy that. Herbert von Karajan, moreover, had an enormous estate (probably could have benefited from Gilbert Kaplan's advice). I didn't think having money could preclude you from being a good conductor, though charges of dilettantism got hurled at Beecham, too.

Every conductor takes lessons at some point, many conductors make a lot of money, and some well-known conductors have been very rich. Kaplan's interpretation might not be to your liking, but he has every right to do what he's doing - and he does it better than some famous conductors who had no business touching the M2 score.
post #3071 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by lwd View Post
Sure, I wasn't trying to say I don't like his tempo, only that I don't really respect where he's coming from as, as you say, he can't really read music.... he just has a lot of money! Actually I know someone who he went to for conducting lessons and he said it was hard work! Meanwhile there are many conductors out there who have dedicated their lives to all aspects of music making and would do a better job if you put them in front of the LSO or VPO.
The proof is in the pudding! I don't care if Kaplan needed a babysitter to get him through the score, his recordings are as good as some of the best and better than most. I don't condemn him for amassing a huge personal fortune, and then spending a small fortune on making music. He could have become another millionaire politician messing up people's lives, but instead chose to create his foundation which is dedicated to collecting Mahler scores and memorabilia which he makes available to all serious musicians, historians, etc. I like the idea that his money has created his collection, and that it's there for all to use. I also like the idea that he loved the music so much that he devoted so much time and money to enabling himself to creating something of value to someone like me. His recordings can stand on their own merits, and they are up in the top tier of Mahler performances -- as much because of his passion as because of his money.

If you want to criticize musicians, don't do it because their wallets are fatter than yours. Do it because they are bad musicians, or disgusting human beings. Money has little to say about character. How it's acquired and how it's spent is more important.
post #3072 of 3714
Thread Starter 
The Kaplan story is really amazing, the guy literally started from ground zero as conductor with no music background and was in his forties when he first conducted. His Conifer/LSO M2 is great performance even if one of the best ever Mahler conductors did it......the fact that it was an amateur conductor's only recording makes it a modern legend in classical music.

I can't imagine anyone being so obsessed with a piece of music that you quit your business and publishing career to pursue a life of Mahler devotion so late in life.....this could be a hollywood movie
post #3073 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08 View Post
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Leaving a wildly successful publishing business to go conduct one work isn't the mark of someone dedicated to "all aspects of music making"? I'm sorry, but I don't buy that. Herbert von Karajan, moreover, had an enormous estate (probably could have benefited from Gilbert Kaplan's advice). I didn't think having money could preclude you from being a good conductor, though charges of dilettantism got hurled at Beecham, too.

Every conductor takes lessons at some point, many conductors make a lot of money, and some well-known conductors have been very rich. Kaplan's interpretation might not be to your liking, but he has every right to do what he's doing - and he does it better than some famous conductors who had no business touching the M2 score.
How can you compare Kaplan to Karajan? Karajan made his money by being one of the greatest conductors of all time. I agree - money shouldn't preclude anyone from being a good conductor and you're right to point out the unjust criticism Beecham received. But Kaplan is not a real professional conductor - he only conducts one piece and he pays orchestras to play under him - they don't pay him. Orchestras don't hire him. He didn't get where he is through talent and by going though the normal steps a conductor would do to get in to the profession but by using his money. Sure he's passionate about Mahler 2 and thats great but if you put him in front of a b grade orchestra instead of LSO or Vienna Phil it wouldn't work because he doesn't have the necessary skills.

So I don't object to his wealth, but I do find the practice of buying orchestras a little distasteful.
post #3074 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by lwd View Post
How can you compare Kaplan to Karajan? Karajan made his money by being one of the greatest conductors of all time.
Not quite. Kaplan made his money running a magazine that is useful for pretty much any entity with several hundred million dollars to invest. Herbert von Karajan made his fortune by unilaterally jacking up costs for his services and starting the inflationary spiral out of control of such costs. Frankly, I think Gilbert Kaplan made his money the "right" way. Karajan might have been one of the greats, but his business practices were anything but. His legacy to the business side of music, and there is a big one, is far from good, closer to ambivalent, but still uniformly bad.

Quote:
I agree - money shouldn't preclude anyone from being a good conductor and you're right to point out the unjust criticism Beecham received. But Kaplan is not a real professional conductor - he only conducts one piece and he pays orchestras to play under him - they don't pay him. Orchestras don't hire him.
So what? Do you think orchestras are altruistic organizations, devoted to the craft? Hardly. They take recording fees, tour fees, ticket fees, and donations. Frankly, Gilbert Kaplan conducts the Mahler 2nd so well (better, even, than some of the "greats" who have tried it) that it's a crime that they don't pay him. Never mind, though: the fact that he buys an orchestra's time to do one thing really well should be welcome. He's spending his money to give you the most accurate (i.e., faithful to Mahler) M2 you will ever hear. He's just an amateur. Yes, in the most faithful sense of the word: he is doing something for the love of it, and spending a great deal of money. The great thing is, instead of collecting art and hiding it in a sumptuous Manhattan apartment, he's letting you in on the fun.

Curse him.

Quote:
He didn't get where he is through talent and by going though the normal steps a conductor would do to get in to the profession but by using his money. Sure he's passionate about Mahler 2 and thats great but if you put him in front of a b grade orchestra instead of LSO or Vienna Phil it wouldn't work because he doesn't have the necessary skills.

So I don't object to his wealth, but I do find the practice of buying orchestras a little distasteful.
Again, so what? If he can keep time and cue sections in based on that time, which even a small child can do, then he's (guess what) a conductor.

Gustav Mahler, according to the oral-history piece "Remembering Mahler," made available by - shock and horror - the Kaplan Foundation, called conductors a necessary evil. Mahler, whom you must know was one of the greatest conductors of his age, didn't beat time - he marked rhythm and phrasing. He trusted the players to know their parts.

Recording companies buy orchestras. Board members buy orchestras with big donations. The public buys orchestras with tickets - no sales, no show. Conductors are not mystical wizards who can only learn the craft after becoming a 2nd-degree initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries. They learn the craft, just like Gilbert Kaplan did.
post #3075 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by lwd View Post
How can you compare Kaplan to Karajan? Karajan made his money by being one of the greatest conductors of all time. I agree - money shouldn't preclude anyone from being a good conductor and you're right to point out the unjust criticism Beecham received. But Kaplan is not a real professional conductor - he only conducts one piece and he pays orchestras to play under him - they don't pay him. Orchestras don't hire him. He didn't get where he is through talent and by going though the normal steps a conductor would do to get in to the profession but by using his money. Sure he's passionate about Mahler 2 and thats great but if you put him in front of a b grade orchestra instead of LSO or Vienna Phil it wouldn't work because he doesn't have the necessary skills.

So I don't object to his wealth, but I do find the practice of buying orchestras a little distasteful.
Oh give me a break -- what a bunch of sanctimonious claptrap! Karajan paid for his podium with a "Heil Hitler" here and a "Sieg Heil" there. I much prefer the man who merely pays for his orchestra with honestly earned wealth.

I'll bet if you tried to conduct the Mahler 2nd, despite all the rehearsal and practice with someone spoon feeding you the notes you couldn't produce something as fine as what Kaplan has produced. You may not think he's talented enough to be a great musician, but he's got a deep understanding of Mahler's music that just doesn't happen by accident. If it were so easy to conduct great performances of Mahler's 2nd, then every music school graduate would be conducting it as well; and they aren't.

And I'll let you in on a little "secret" about Kaplan: He's gone all around the world guest conducting the Mahler 2nd with orchestras of varying quality and the people walking out of the concerts talk about them as life changing experiences. He's not interested in conducting anything but the Mahler 2nd, and that's our loss. I've got a recording of him doing the Adagietto from the Mahler 5th and he nailed it. I only wish he'd move on to the rest of Mahler.
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