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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 206

post #3076 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears View Post
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.....

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.
Most music school graduates aren't multi-millionaires so this option isn't really available to them. If they had the money they of course could hire an orchestra to do Mahler 2. And if they did that and only that piece for 20 years I'm sure any of them could do a good job with it.

Maybe you're right about about Kaplan being a better person than Karajan. I don't know - I never met either of them. But on a musical level? Can you really compare?

I'm not saying you shouldn't enjoy his cd recordings or performances. If you like them thats great. But the opinion I'm stating is that of 98% of the music industry. He's not a respected musician, because he's only learnt what he really has to know to get him through Mahler 2. He's never even conducted a concerto. Please correct me if I'm wrong (and I'm sure somebody will) but I don't think he even plays a musical instrument. Certainly not to any degree of proficiency.

To think think this all started after I said I preferred Walter to Kaplan. And I stand by that. You can study the score and research all you want - Walter was Mahler's assistant and for a while at least his friend and heard him conduct many performances. There's no substitute for first hand experience.

I have to say I'm a little shocked at the level of vitriole leveled at me by some people here. So I'm not going to post anymore on this particular subject. I think everyone has made their points of view clear. In my personal opinion a much more interesting modern Mahlerian is Benjamin Zander. If you like his music making it's worth checking out his book The Art of Possibility - for those who have read it, Don't forget rule number 6! (And include myself in that).
post #3077 of 3714
You seem to ignore the most important part of everyone's posts: The world is filled with poor and mediocre Mahler 2nd performances and recordings. Going to music school, gaining proficiency on an instrument or many instruments, graduating with a degree in conducting, and then standing on the podium of one of the greatest orchestras are not guarantees of great Mahler performance. I've heard the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Philadelphia Orchestra do Mahler's 4th under the batons of Rattle and Eschenbach respectively, and neither performance came close to the quality of Kaplan's Mahler 2nd. I've also heard Eschenbach and the Philadelphia O. doing the Mahler 2nd and that performance wasn't as good as either of Kaplan's recordings. So much goes into musical performance that it's totally ridiculous to assume that anyone with the money to pay an orchestra will produce creditable Mahler performances, when someone with training and background, at the top of the profession frequently doesn't get as good a result with a great orchestra.

Kaplan is not a well rounded musician, he is obsessed with one work by one composer and he devoted a large chunk of his life to making sure that he knew as much about the man and the music as it is possible to know. He has recorded the symphony twice and he's done a great job both times. That's enough of an accomplishment as far as I'm concerned for anyone who comes to music as late as Kaplan did.

Btw, my cousin's son plays in Zander's youth orchestra, and just returned from touring the Mahler 1st with that group. He will tell you the same thing that most critics will tell you: Zander's Mahler is also hit or miss. He has his great performances and his not great performances, and his stinkers. Boulez's Mahler 2nd is not as good as Kaplan's, and it's also recorded with the Wiener Philharmoniker. So, while you are hurling the criticisms at Kaplan, and saying that he's not respected by great musicians, just remember that there's also a lot of professional jealousy at play with those remarks. Go out and buy Boulez's recording of the Mahler 2nd and I'll bet you won't enjoy it as much as Kaplan's. For that matter, compare it to Abbado's Mahler 2nd and again Abbado will come up short. Great Mahler performance is not something that can just be purchased, it's something that demands a heavy investment of time and sweat as well as a deep understanding and sympathy for the music. Kaplan may not be interested in making the same investment with other works, but he did make it with the Mahler 2nd, and the proof is in the pudding: 2 great recordings of a great symphony.
post #3078 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears View Post
Boulez's Mahler 2nd is not as good as Kaplan's, and it's also recorded with the Wiener Philharmoniker. So, while you are hurling the criticisms at Kaplan, and saying that he's not respected by great musicians, just remember that there's also a lot of professional jealousy at play with those remarks. Go out and buy Boulez's recording of the Mahler 2nd and I'll bet you won't enjoy it as much as Kaplan's. For that matter, compare it to Abbado's Mahler 2nd and again Abbado will come up short.
She speaks the truth. There are a lot of musicians, especially when they come to Mahler, who overreach and fall way short. Claudio Abbado, who is one of the critical Mahler darlings (though not universally so), has had some major misses. His recent Mahler 4th had Renée Fleming singing the soprano part. That, i.e., the idea that she could sing that part, is ridiculous. I liked his orchestral concept, as I have for his other stuff, but casting her makes me wonder about his Mahler common sense. His M2, as Bunnyears noted, was not terribly well-received, and his previous recording, not great either, got the favorable comparison. Pierre Boulez, who is probably one of the best conductors working today and assuredly a great Mahler conductor, turned in a M2 that is so specialized and, to most people, downright weird to be of value only to people who adore his Mahler.

Gilbert Kaplan doesn't claim to be the second coming of Mahler, Walter, Klemperer, or Bernstein. He knows what he wants to do, and he does it. The fact of the matter is that his specialization has allowed him to perfect his interpretation, which is about as close to Mahler's final thoughts on the M2 as you'll get, beyond that which others (his "betters") have. Better to do one thing incredibly well than to think you can do everything and butcher something.

As to association with Mahler, if you look at the interpretations of his associates (Walter, Mengelberg, and Klemperer), you'll find a wide range of styles. Mahler's own style (cf. "Remembering Mahler") changed from night to night. Mahler had been dead 27 years before Walter did his famed Vienna M9, which is more "authentic" than not, as he premiered it after Mahler died. He had been dead longer still by the time of Walter's "Indian Summer." Klemperer's Mahler postdates the man by 56 years in the case of the M9. That's a very long time, and in some cases, Mahler didn't premiere certain works in his life.

Yeah, they knew him, but they lived long enough to form their own ideas, styles, and become discrete conductors.
post #3079 of 3714
I just got back from a week-long trip to San Diego. Traveling companion: the Mahler symphonies in an obscure set on Capriccio. The recordings were made almost 20 years ago and released 10 years later. The orchestra is the Sophia Philharmonic. The conductor is a little known Bulgarian, Emil Tabakov. The orchestral playing at times is iffy: string intonation, cracked trumpet notes, clarinets missing accidentals. The sound weird: very loudly miked percussion a vocal soloists (esp. M8). There's not one symphony that would be anyone's top choice. But as a set there's one thing that comes thru loud and clear: this conductor has a strong personality and gives Mahler powerful, athletic, emotional and yet very profound readings. Sure, there a few idiosyncracies that seemed contrived, but as a whole, I found the set remarkably refreshing, exciting, and even fun! It didn't come as a surprise that Tabakov is a composer (although his 3rd symphony which I have is dreadful!). The point is, here's an unknown conductor and orchestra that offer Mahler that in many ways is more exciting than the likes of Rattle, Abaddo, Chailly, Maazel, Haitink and several others. One can only imagine what it could have been had he had access to a top-notch orchestra. Anyway, if you find the set (I got it at Berkshire for $20), and have even a passing interest in off the beaten path Mahler, try it out. And the best thing is the layout: 15 disks. Each symphony in it's own jewel box. Much easier to work with while driving than Bertini to be sure! And those of you who like portamento will not be disappointed!
post #3080 of 3714
Thread Starter 
MB
Thanks for the impressions
Speaking of eastern Euro Mahler...........there is the Vaclav Neumann/Supraphon complete set out with Czech PO which no one has reported on, about $57 from Amazon sellers. Long ago in this thread I was raving about Neuman/Berlin Classics M5 & M9 Cds with Leipzig Orchestra, however I have read the Czech PO versions of same works in complete set are not as good, so we are left wondering..............

post #3081 of 3714
At the price, that set might be worth a listen. I did buy two of the symphonies from the set (2 & 7) and was not at all encouraged. Underpowered is putting it mildly. Maybe I should reevaluate. There is another East European set to avoid like the plague: Svetlanov. What was he thinking? There's no insight, energy, nuance -- the conducting is as boring as the playing, and the Melodiya sound is no great shakes, either. And people are paying up to $100 for the Svetlanov's on Ebay!
post #3082 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
Speaking of eastern Euro Mahler...........there is the Vaclav Neumann/Supraphon complete set out with Czech PO which no one has reported on, about $57 from Amazon sellers. Long ago in this thread I was raving about Neuman/Berlin Classics M5 & M9 Cds with Leipzig Orchestra, however I have read the Czech PO versions of same works in complete set are not as good, so we are left wondering..............
There is also a nice Neumann/Leipzig M6 which was available briefly from Berlin Classics. All the Leipzig recordings are more powerful than the Czech PO recordings which Neumann did (I have the whole set). If you want power, look elsewhere. But, the Czech set has its own happy little world: It is easily the most gentle and bucolic set (even more so than Kubelik's). In exchange for a heaven-storming finale in M2, for example, you get things like well-defined, sonorous slavic basses clarifying the low-end of the choral spectrum, and the two soloists blending with melting gorgeousness near the end of the movement. Indeed, that passage is typical of the charm of this set: Whereas most performances drive the passage hard until the two singers are squawking like parrots, Neumann holds it back and has the singers concentrate on warmth and blend. So, yeah, it ain't no Bernsteinian performance-to-cap-all-performances approach, but it has its own limited charms, which reveal more "true Mahler" than you might expect. As mainstream Mahler, it's bad. As an alternative view, it's good. That's why some of the performances were awarded the Grand Prix du Disques in France (where the mainstream Mahler style has never caught on, anyway).

Now as for the Svetlanov, that's just bad any way you slice it!

Many thanks,
Mark
post #3083 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Mark
Look what else is out there, Neumann/Leipzig M7!



Unfortunately none for sale right now, but I would love to get this M7!
post #3084 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
Mark
Look what else is out there, Neumann/Leipzig M7!

Unfortunately none for sale right now, but I would love to get this M7!
DA,

That looks tasty. I hope I bump into it at some point to check it out.

M
post #3085 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottder View Post


Reiner Das Lied von der Erde is coming out in a few weeks, anyone familiar with this performance at all?
I pre-ordered it at Amazon and it has been delayed three times. Release is now the first of August. I've never heard it but I love Reiner's Mahler 4th. I am soooo looking forward to
this. I only have one Das Lied. Bruno Walters CBS CD reissue with the Columbia Symphony.
post #3086 of 3714
I finally bought the Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Wigmore Hall recital, which relates to this thread because it opens with the Rückert-Lieder, in the piano version with Roger Vignoles at the keyboard. As has been noted by several reviewers, when a singer like Mrs. Lieberson dies, there is a tendency to tend toward hagiography in reviews. Of course, she was that good, so those tendencies are balanced by quality.

The interpretations are personal and intimate, a fact not helped by the BBC's somewhat distant recording. Lieberson was, indeed, one of the great Lieder singers of her generation. She seemed to internalize and project the text as though it expressed her own feelings. In that regard, she reminded me of Peter Schreier, especially in his Schubert collaboration with András Schiff. Lieberson was expressing the text with her voice, not using the text as a playground for her voice. Perhaps another, better, analogy would be Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in Hugo Wolf's Sechs Lieder für eine Frauenstimme (or maybe the Goethe-Lieder, beauty - but ultimately in service of the text. The Wolf Lieder, to digress briefly, in either the Furtwängler recital or in the new overview with Gerald Moore, are a rare moment where I find Schwarzkopf entirely tolerable. In any event, Lieberson gets inside the Rückert-Lieder, much the same way she got inside Ich habe genug, and is giving them to the audience from the inside out.

At the risk of committing sacrilege, though I've made no great secret of my distaste for this particular singer, listen for a good contrast to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's Mahler disc, which has him in the Rückert-Lieder with Daniel Barenboim at the piano. Fischer-Dieskau sings the songs well-enough, but you're never quite sure if he really believes what he's saying. It's not necessary, but it's helpful. When he does some dramatic gesture, like in "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen," it seems a little overdone and stagy. One has, or at least I have, no such doubts about Lieberson.

Her voice - enough has been said about that. Listen to these songs, or - to hear a great interpretation of the Urlicht - to Tilson Thomas' M2. It is warm, full, and (overused but apt) luminous. In the "big" numbers from the Rückert-Lieder, "Um Mitternacht" and "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen," she is expressive and uses her tone to its fullest. The songs are beautiful and heartbreaking at times. The beauty of her voice adds to the texts. As opposed to some other singers that could named. Her unconventional ordering (putting the two aforementioned songs at the end of the section in that order) lets "Um Mitternacht" serve as a thematic and stylistic segue into "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen." Really powerful stuff.

This record only cements the fact that she was a great artist. She now has two desert-island discs of mine (BWV 82 and this one), and she really deserves a spot in the pantheon of great Lieder singers. This disc might have a reference Rückert-Lieder on it, despite the slightly distant recording. The other selections are characteristically well-done, but of less interest to this thread. Definitely a disc worth a spin, even if you don't buy it - I'm betting, though, that you will.
post #3087 of 3714
Thanks for the tip on Lieberson, might have to get this. I've always found Mahler's songs far more appealing sung by women. I don't know why. And you're right about DFD: he's talented enough, obviously competent, but there has always been a superficial quality to his singing and emotional distance that just didn't seem right. Even his work with Kempe and Furtwangler.

So has anyone picked up the Zinman M2? Pretty bad if Hurwitz is right.
post #3088 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
Thanks for the tip on Lieberson, might have to get this. I've always found Mahler's songs far more appealing sung by women. I don't know why. And you're right about DFD: he's talented enough, obviously competent, but there has always been a superficial quality to his singing and emotional distance that just didn't seem right. Even his work with Kempe and Furtwangler.

So has anyone picked up the Zinman M2? Pretty bad if Hurwitz is right.
I think the Lieberson disc is worth it, but I tend to like her records. You might look at the complete track listing and see if the other stuff on there has any interest for you (some Handel, Peter Lieberson, and a Brahms encore). I found it to be worth it just for the Rückert-Lieder, but that's me.

I bought the Fischer-Dieskau disc on EMI more or less for Furtwängler's interpretation of the fahrenden Gesellen stuff. I've been put off so many times by his stuff that I buy for other singers or the conductor. His Von Karajan Rheingold is a prime example of his style. Beautiful, but - as you say - disconnected. When he's inviting Fricka to dwell with him in Walhall, there's nothing behind the voice. When the person singing Loge, in this case, Gerhard Stolze, sounds more engaged and involved than Wotan, there's a problem.

As to Zinman - I think Hurwitz is pretty much right. It is not, let me stress, a bad recording from a musical standpoint. The orchestra is very good, the soloists aren't the worst I've heard, and Zinman has a good sense of architecture. Compared to Barbirolli's 1965 Berlin performance, it's pretty much immaculate. The problem is that, compared to that same imperfect recording, Zinman doesn't do anything too unique or out of the ordinary. He suffers from the fact that he doesn't do anything special. His tempi are right down the middle of the line, as is the rest of his interpretation. This is a textbook Mahler performance, and with extraordinary competition from Iván Fischer, Seiji Ozawa, Michael Tilson Thomas, and others, it just doesn't compete. It would be a fine first copy, or OK if you're collecting the Zinman cycle. I would even recommend Pierre Boulez' recording over Zinman, and I previously recommended that disc to Boulez fanatics and completists. Why? Boulez has an interpretation, if a controversial one. It's a dry (even slightly arid) and matter-of-fact one, but it's better than the bland (if well-plated) recording Zinman turns in.
post #3089 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
And you're right about DFD: he's talented enough, obviously competent, but there has always been a superficial quality to his singing and emotional distance that just didn't seem right. Even his work with Kempe and Furtwangler.
I don't have that response to him. I think what you are noticing is his efforts to communicate a certain emotion, or certain aspects of a character that he is portraying. I would describe his work as planful rather than superficial or unemotional. To each his own, but I have a different response to his Mahler recordings. I would hardly describe his singing in the Bernstein/VPO Das Lied von der Erde as "emotionally distant." Nor would I use those words about his performances in the Szell/LSO Wunderhorn songs (especially the humorous ones), or the Boehm/Berlin Rueckert-Lieder. I didn't find that the relatively late recording of Mahler songs that he made with Barenboim was as emotionally communicative as the ones I've mentioned. Nor did I find that his Wayfarer songs with Furtwangler said as much to me as his later recording with Kubelik.
post #3090 of 3714
Ok, this thread is getting bumped too far back, so it's time to revive it. I hope everyone is still out there.
For the past two weeks I have been on a Das Lied von der Erde binge, thanks to Raptor34 informing us of the pending re-release of the Reiner version. Listened to some 20 recordings, from the very earliest, to some of the newer. After a few, it frankly becomes very difficult to decide how one is better or worse than others, and ranking them became impossible. Why? The music is simply so beautiful and so great that criticism becomes difficult. Sure there were favorites, and some lesser. The overriding factor for me became the contralto singer. I still love Maureen Forrester's version with Reiner and Richard Lewis is tremendous. And so is Reiner and the orchestra.

I also really loved the Eije Oue/Minnesota version, but the contralto just doesn't capture the world-weary sound that Forrester does. Still, for sound and orchestral performance, it's superb.

The Giulini/DG and Maazel/RCA really were much, much better than I remembered them. And the three Bruno Walter's I heard still have a stamp of authenticity that makes criticism pointless.

I'd like to know what others think of DLVDE and what recordings you enjoy.
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