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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 24

post #346 of 3714
Originally Posted by Yikes
I can tell you that my long time favorite has been the Slatkin Saint Louis version. It is the first version that I owned and I probably listened to it dozens if not hundreds of times before I purchased another version. I’ll listen to movements IV & V of all of these and then post my opinions.
The Slatkin' 2nd was my first cd version, though the first version I heard on cd was Maazel's (my very first Mahler 2nd was a DG cassette of Kubelick.. need to get his cycle.. been on my liste forever..) anyway, yea, Slatkin's 2nd has always appealed to me.. Maureen Forrester and Kathleen Battle are just perfect.. the tempos are just right for my tastes.. I do admit though that I have gotten a tad bored with it over the years.. but I've really yet to find a 2nd that totally blows me away.. I know the work so well and there are so many variables.. I love Mehta's 70's version for the last movement, but there are other parts that just don't do it for me. Abbado's late 70's DG recording is the newest one I've purchased and I enjoy it quite a bit. Bruno Walter's is classic of course. I have the Abravenel on Vinyl.. I'll have to pull that out sometime and give it a listen. I did purchase a vinyl copy of Eugene Ormandy conducting this work, but I haven't gotten a chance to listen to that in a few years. Probably the best performance I ever heard, at least the one that moved me the most was a small town orchestra in Mansfield, Ohio.. the Mansfield Symphony under James Holland Cook. It was my first live Mahler concert. Blew me the ****** away. Almost made me believe in god.

post #347 of 3714
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
You have a few Mahler 2nds there I haven't heard:

Will be interesting to hear your impressions vs the ones I do have in your collection. Surprised not to see Bernstein or Rattle in that group, seems most people really like them.

I have the Rattle and the Mehta. On the whole I find the Mehta more gripping despite being quite an old recording, for me the Rattle is too distant i.e it seems technically good but seems to me a bit too restrained for my taste anyway.
post #348 of 3714

Ozawa 2nd

I found one of my missing Mahler 2nd CD’s. Last night I listened to the Seiji Ozawa Boston Symphony. It’s on two discs, which I always find annoying.

The performance is good, and the sound quality is outstanding. Highly recommended.
post #349 of 3714
Speaking of BSO, I may go see them in October

post #350 of 3714
Originally Posted by scottder
Speaking of BSO, I may go see them in October

Gatti has a recording of the Mahler 5th with the Royal Philharmonic which is ... interesting, and certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Nevertheless, a live Mahler concert shouldn't be missed, especially in as fine a space as Symphony Hall.

post #351 of 3714

Jarvi's No.6

Gee, it took me two days to read the whole thread, but it's really one of the most educated thread I've read on Head-Fi. Now if only everyone on this planet were so open-minded and tolerant...

Anyway, I'm in the process of rediscovering my Mahler collection. I spend months building up my cycle a couple of years ago (based solely on reviews), but then got distracted to other composers and haven't paid much attention to Mahler. This thread motivated me to start improving my cycle and find my favorites (lots of Amazon purchase from now ).

My current collection consists the following CDs:

Naxos/Kosler with Slovak Philharmonic: My first Mahler CD ever. Average performance with average recording, but good enough to inspire my interest in Mahler, nonetheless.
EMI/Rattle with CBSO: I'm not entirely satisfied with this purchase. I originally bought because I thought I need a better version of No.1 and I'm very happy with Rattle's 10th with Berline Philharmonic. Yet I found myself more attracted to the Kosler recording.
Sony/Bernstein with NYP (SACD): Solid performance with great dynamics, but I always felt there's something missing compared to the Kosler recording. I never quite figured out what it is, perhaps it was because the Kosler CD was my first love affair with Mahler?

DG/Bernstein with NY Philharmonic: Lack of comparison tells me I should shut up, but I think this is in itself an enjoyable recording.

Sony/Salonen with LAP: Excellent recording quality. Again lack of comparison resulted in lack of comment on performance.

EMI Klemperer legacy/Klemperer with PO: Now this is one recording that I actually have something to compare with. I was fortunate enough to attend a Philadelphia Orchestra concert in 2001. Name of the conductor escapes me, but it's most likely their previous director Wolfgang Sawallisch. The soloist *seems* to be Olga Kern, but don't quote me for it. Anyway it was a lively and touching performance. The soloist (whoever she was) did a very good job at portraiting the picture of little kids ascending to heaven, and the orchestra was up to its usual standard (I had a whole season there so I have much excuse for forgetting who the conductor was). I found the klemperer recording quite adequate in grasping the essense of this piece, and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's performance was flawless - until I recently read the lyrics. Then her performance seems completely out of place. For the uninitiate the lyric in the 4th movement was basically about kids imagining heaven as a place where they have unlimited supply of food, and the lyrics are really quite amusing. Schwarzkopt took it WAY too seriously.

5th: London/Chailly with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
6th: DG/Karajan with BP
8th: DG/Abbado with BP
I never got around to have a good listen to these recordings, so no comment.

RCA/MTT with London SO: Very detailed perfomance as in typical MTT style. I must admit I'm one of his fan and might hold a biased opinion toward this CD. Yet I really think he did a good job presenting the piece as Mahler intended it to be. Recording quality is above average.

DG/Boulez with CSO: I think Boulez did a more than adequate job with this recording. IMHO Mahler No.9 is all about building up the atmosphere, and Boulez did all this without lossing the balance. The recording quality is above average although I found the violin part distorted at times.

EMI/Rattle with BP: As I mentioned before, I simply loved this CD. I don't have anything to compare the performance against, but this recording was so enjoyable that I don't really need objective opinion to speak of it highly.

Das Lied von der Erde:
Now this is one Mahler piece I can speak with much confidence. I own three versions myself and listen to various other versions from libraries and friends. Some of you may not know that the lyrics were actually from Chinese poets. I hated chinese literature in school, but I actually like the Geman-English translation. Go figure.
Naxos/Halasz with NSO Ireland: My first CD on this piece. Unfortunately it didn't earn any special place in my heart. I found the solos plain and the recording quality less than average. However, some people seem to be quite fond of this version.
Decca/Bernstern with Wiener Philharmoniker: My favorate version. REALLY good recording quality for something recorded 40 years ago, and the performance is unequaled. One very special feature of this CD is that Fischer-Dieskau took the mezzo-soprano part, and did a wonderful, wonderful job. Definitely recommended!
DG/Boulez with WP (SACD): This is one of my earliest SACD purchase. I bought this mainly because it's a SACD. The recording quality is obviously very good, but the performance didn't impress me much on my first listen. Therefore I never really listened to it again. I play it only to demostrate SACD to my friends.

Planned purchase:

RCA/Reiner with CSO
Sony/MTT with SFO (SACD)

Das Lied von der Erde:
Reference/Eiji Oue with Minnesota Orchestra

Now comes the question (you didn't think I was here just to make a personal statement, did you?):

Have any of you heard Neeme Jarvi's recording of Mahler No.6 (done with CSO I believe)? It's supposedly the legendary recording that pushed the speed limit on Mahler No.6 to a new level. I'm genuinely interested in this recording, but Amazon doesn't have it anymore. Anyone?
post #352 of 3714

Few you may want to try, Kaplans more recent 3nd on SACD, gre performance, and WONDERFUL recording. I have been tempted by the MTT's as well for SACD.

As far as the 4th, you owe it to yourself to try the Szell 4th, it's a budget title that is worth every single penny and more.

post #353 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by saxphile
Now comes the question (you didn't think I was here just to make a personal statement, did you?):

Have any of you heard Neeme Jarvi's recording of Mahler No.6 (done with CSO I believe)? It's supposedly the legendary recording that pushed the speed limit on Mahler No.6 to a new level. I'm genuinely interested in this recording, but Amazon doesn't have it anymore. Anyone?
Well Jarvi did make many recordings with CSO in the 1980's usually on Chandos label, but can't recall ever seeing or reading a review for any Mahler symphony by him?

Usually the Mahler 6 everyone wants that is almost impossible to find is the Sanderling:

If you will listen to that Karajan/DG Mahler 6 you have now, I think you will be shocked how good it is, plus the sound quality is excellent.

Let us know more as you listen to each one.......so discussion can continue.
post #354 of 3714

Interesting, you know, now that I think of it, I don't think I've given Mahler's 6th a "serious" listen. Not one you hear discussed very often. Will have to dig into what I have (I think I have Bernstein/NYPO).

post #355 of 3714
Originally Posted by scottder
Few you may want to try, Kaplans more recent 3nd on SACD, gre performance, and WONDERFUL recording.
You probably mean Kaplan's 2nd on SACD?


If you like MTT, you cannot miss his 1st symphony on SACD. Along with his recent 4th, it's the best of the series so far. His 1st is where all of his conducting style really clicks and works very well. The 3rd movement is especially characterful.

Bernstein's 2 on DG is very good. I think the only one that may top it is his Sony recording. The Salonen 3 is also very good, for characterful woodwind work in the "What the animals tell me" movement, and the one of the loveliest and affecting last movements I've heard. He does add bass drum to the closing notes, but it's effective for me.

post #356 of 3714
Originally Posted by scottder

Interesting, you know, now that I think of it, I don't think I've given Mahler's 6th a "serious" listen. Not one you hear discussed very often. Will have to dig into what I have (I think I have Bernstein/NYPO).

The 6th is an amazing sound-world of emotion, rage, despair, fear and beauty. Soaring highs, deep, dark lows and everything in between. My favorites are Solti (70's version), Tennstedt, Levine and Sinopoli. I did get to her MTT conduct it live a few years ago and was quite impressed as well.

Sometimes I regret that I may never get to experience this work (or most of his other works) as I did when I was an angst-ridden, emotionally charged youth. As I grow older, I find myself less affected by yin and yang of Mahler's music. At times, though, the music does still click. Sometimes I think I may just sell my Mahler collection and leave his music be for several years.. I think I may need the separation. The occational live concert or just listening to his music in my mind..

And.. with two young children, it's extremely difficult to find a free hour or two where I can simply sit and listen to some Mahler anyways..

post #357 of 3714
Originally Posted by AndreYew
You probably mean Kaplan's 2nd on SACD?

Opps...yes 2nd.....3nd? Shouldn't post when under-caffinated.
post #358 of 3714
Thanks for all the responses. It's an honor to revitalize a great thread.

DA, Jarvi did in fact record a few Mahler symphonies. The one I was talking about is this one: Amazon The cover photo is incorrect, however.

Today I went to a New Zealand CD online store (where I live) and had a few interesting discoveries:

Rattle's 10th with BSO was reissued by EMI in NZ for only around USD11.5
Szell's 6th is still in stock at only USD7!
Kaplan's 2nd SACD costs USD38! Shocking.
Maazel's 5th with Vienna reissued by Sony. Masonjar, is this the version you have? Amazon If so, what do you think of it?

NZ is really a classical music desert. I've always lived in big cities and had easy access to lots of concerts and opera, not to mention good CD stores. Since I moved to NZ the only acceptable CD store is the Border's in Auckland.
post #359 of 3714

Mahler's 5th

After weeks of delay, I have finally finished my impressions of Maazel's 5th compared to Chailly's. This is also my first serious encounter with this work, so I'm going to write about my impressions on the composition itself as well.

For those who don't want to bear with my lengthy description, I think Maazel is the better recording of the two. Chailly's recording is relatively recent and that reflects on the acoustics quality, but Maazel's is a substantially better performance. I found Chailly's approach to this work too soft and lacking in context. Perhaps he was protecting us from the dark forces of life this work is so full of, but more likely he was trying to do a more calculated and smooth representation that pleases the crowd.

If you find the following review useful or at least amusing, please let me know as I have many other new Mahler CDs on the way. Listening and studying the music has been thoroughly enjoyable and I'm quite keen to do it again.

Here comes the tedious part:

1st movement opens with a solemn funeral march. The part marked as "Suddenly faster. Passionate. Wild" feels like a reflection of a bystander's mourn, as there was so much in life and now it's all lost. At the middle of Tempo I a narrator comes out as if to lead us into the 2nd movement, and towards the end of the 1st movement dynamics gradually builds up to give us a taste of what is to come.

In the beginning of the 2nd movement there is an explosive statement of distress carried over from the 1st movement. Then it falls into an alternate between joy and sadness, hope and despair, and inevitably, life and death. All of this is expanded from a single theme, which will be visited again later. Then we work our way gradually toward the brighter side, which I guess can be described as the paradise.

In middle of this movement, there were several bizzard shifts of sound placements in the Maazel recording. As if someone raised the mic a few feet and then put it back.

The scherzo is really my favorite movement of all. The contrasts are engaging and full of emotions, and require listener's full attention. This is also a great challenge to the orchestra since on many occasions they'd be driven to the limits, thus VPO really shines in the Maazel recording compared to Royal Concertgebouw in Chailly's. This is no more evident than in Tempo I, which I think symbolizes the climax of the struggle between two opposing forces. If you listen carefully, you'd notice that many solo parts were actually played by more than one player in the Chailly recording. This is a common practice in orchestras, especially with woodwind instruments, but no matter how synchronized the players are, it still doesn't sound like a solo. Unfortunately for this work it altered the context of the music and made it less than acceptable.

Then we come to the famous 4th movement. It is of course a very beautiful piece of work, and I've heard it quite a few times before. Yet it never really left much impression and on a closer listen it still doesn't. I suspect that has to do with my masochist approach to Mahler's music. However, to be quite honest, I find Chailly's performance so much enjoyable than Maazel's simply because the sound quality is better. At times the strings are on the verge of distortion in the Maazel recording, which is inconsistent with the rest of the tracks in CD.

As in several other Mahler symphonies, the final movement is full of joy and the adoration of life. The use of varied themes in this movement is quite ingenious and enjoyable. To my surprise VPO sounds much more harsh than Royal concertgebouw in this movement, but that might just be how Maazel intepretes it as the rest of the perfomance is rather solid.

[edited: corrected my hugely embarrassing faux pas]
post #360 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your impressions,
I have never seen/heard the Szell Mahler 5, but own Szell/Sony 4 & 6 and find them near the top of any list for those two. Also have not heard the Chailly/London 5th but it is widely available, only read the reviews which give it high marks. I don't own any of Chailly's Mahler work so have no feel for his approach to Mahler.

I usually reach for the Bernstein/DG as reference for Mahler 5, one of the best Mahler performances ever by a leading Mahler conductor. I use this to measure all other 5ths, Bernstein's enhanced contrasts work sympathetically to draw out a great performance. If you like a more conservative approach to Mahler then Bernstein is not your man, but Mahler is about extremes and sharp contrasts which Bernstein will effortlessly deliver in abudant quantities.
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