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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 26

post #376 of 3714
Jar,

How lucky you are to be able to listen to the Cleveland Orchestra for all those years! Did you get to hear any Mahler there?

--Andre
post #377 of 3714

Review on Rattle's two 10th

Time now for another review. This time it's Rattle's two recordings of the 10th. I've owned Rattle's 10th with Berliner Philharmoniker for a long time and love it very much. I have long believed it to be the best version of this symphony, even tho I never did any comparison. Earlier in this thread DarkAngel mentioned that he likes Rattle's recording with Bournemouth SO better, which haunted me for weeks, wondering if I'm missing out an even better performance. So I ordered a used copy from Amazon and after a few days of listening produced this review:

Overall: Sound quality wise, I found the BSO version of be more exciting, It sounded more forward and instrument separation is almost too good. I suspect it might be a studio recording (too lazy to look up in booklet), but the amount of ambient noise suggested otherwise. This, however, doesn't mean the BP version doesn't sound good. It is very neutral and packs an amazing amount of detail. Performance wise, BP was much more balanced, which I think is more appropriate. I've read reviews that state the BSO version to correspond to Mahler's later chamber music-like style better. If so, then the ensemble must have been made of a bunch of bullies as solo instruments were constantly battling each other. They jump out whenever they have a chance, leaving no space for the instruments exiting the theme. In retaliation the exiting instruments lingered around for a little longer. The outcome was rather disasterous, IMHO.

In the first movement, BP was somewhat slower, which build good foundation for the entire performance since there are numerous references to the first movement in later movements (esp. the finale). Elements of terror gradually creep in and finally lead to the horrifying (literally if you're not expect a full out attack of brass) moment. This process works much better in BP's slower performance.

To be honest, I found the performance of BSO's strings in this movement to be more engaging, although a little fatiguing as well. I certainly could understand if someone prefers this recording because of the adagio. In his later recording with BP, Rattle seemed to have chosen a better integrated sound image, which resulted in a more subtle adagio. However, this approach worked very, very well for the last two movements, as will be describled later. Also, the more exciting strings of BSO also subdued the forementioned moment of horror.

As an interesting sidenote, at exact 23:00 in the BP recording, the marching drum appeared to be hit accidentally. If I was that guy in percussions I'd have dug a hole in the ground and hid in it (it was live performance).

My impression on the first scherzo is that BP sounded much more articulate. There's a lot of changes in tempo and dynamics in this movement, and BP navigated through them with ease. I think the difference in quality of those two orchestras is no more apparant than in this movement.

Again, BP's performance was splendid in purgatorio. There's no much difference in intepretation of this and the previous movement between the two versions (none that I could find, anyway).

The second scherzo is very powerful scherzo material. The alternation was despair -> cheerful waltz -> blend. The alternation between themes become more and more rapid and dramatic; creating an impression that the happiness was only superficial and never meant to last. Wood winds of BP incorporated into the overall texture much better. Brass winds played a very important role in the change of themes and BP really shined as well. As can be imagined, BSO's battling instruments didn't work too well and the transistions sounded stiff and harsh.

The last movement. As mentioned before, the BP recording was much better balanced. BSO's percussion stood out to an almost unbearable level and can be quite distracting. My comment about instruments battling each other was also largely from this movement. In comparison, solo plays of BP were of much higher quality.
post #378 of 3714

I'm flooding the thread today.



I'm in the process of finding a satisfying version of 6th. The one I had for a long time (although not listened very much) is Karajan with Berliner Philharmoniker. I don't even know why I bought this CD - I don't much care for his style in general. As most classical music listers, I unavoidably have a number of his recording, but I only like one of them: Also Sprach Zarathustra / Don Juan with BP. It is an excellent recording, and Karajan's conducting style worked well for Strauss. Not to mention the orchestra's superior playing.

Back to the topic. I found Karajan's 6th too... Karajan? I'm sure some people would understand that expression. Anyway I didn't like it. As my local CD shop is having a sale on Telarcs, I decided to give Levi and the Atlanta SO a try and ordered it, which again proved the evil of impulsive purchase. Apparantly Levi only saw Allegro energico on the marking of first movement, but missed the ma no troppo part. Therefore, the result was a Frankenstein sort of Mahler. So my quest must go on.

I think what I'm looking for is a brutal presentation of this work, without any *personal touch* or too much emotion from the conductor. I have already ordered Barbirolli with NPO and am considering Sanderling with St.Petersburg PO or Zander with PO. Would someone with experience with this work care to comment?
post #379 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Sax
For Mahler 6 take the easy route..........Szell/Sony budget priced single CD version, how can you loose??????
I agree with you on Levi/Telarc, I have a couple of his Mahler series and find them mediocre.....let critcs talk me into getting them, now I know better.
I will still stand by the Karajan/DG Originals 6th........one of the best I have heard (are you sure you didn't like this )

That was very good analysis of Rattle's two symphony 10 performances. There are some changes in performance style and some differences maybe from recording technique highlighting instruments etc, and of course the new EMI recording is more refined and better able to uncover fine details. Also the BPO has some of the finest musicians in the world, hard for small BSO to compete in overall virtuosity.

The main style difference most will take away is that new BPO is more balanced and refined (dare I say mature) but still exciting vs other versions, older BSO more exaggerated contrasts and higher energy. The two performances also track Rattle's appraoch to Mahler since 1980 BSO 10th was his very first Mahler recording.

I suspect many people will prefer the new Rattle/EMI/BPO 10th, but good to have original just like comparing 1960's Bernstien Sony Mahler to his 1980's DG Mahler cycle..........interesting to see what changed and if it was an improvement.
post #380 of 3714
Nice review Saxphile. I own the BPO 10th and agree with your assessment. What a great piece. I need to do a little research about what exactly was orchestrated and finished after Mahler's death. In the Finale, I was amazed at the large number of bass clarinet solo passages which is far greater than any other Mahler symphony, or greater than any symphony ever written. But the presence of the solo tuba and low brass to balance this might have been his intention. Chamber music textures of the low instruments. When I get some time, I am going to go look at a score and talk to some of my conductor friends.

I will have to check out the accidental drum hit at 23:00. I am surprised that got by those editing the disk, which would have been simple enough to fix. I don't mean to insult anybody's intelligence if you know this already, but live recordings are generally compilations of the weekend's series of three to four concerts. They are edited and not one time performances, with some exceptions of course. I just learned this a few years ago and I am in the classical music business, so there might be some readers of this thread that might not know.

Anyway, I really enjoyed your review.

dshea
post #381 of 3714
For Mahler's No. 6, my favorite two are Gielen and Barbirolli with NPO. Both hold a tight rein structurally. Barbirolli is coupled with a nice Strauss Ein Heldenleben. I think you're going to like it.
post #382 of 3714
By the way, I listened at 23:00 of my BP and there is no drum sounding on my copy, at least where I thought it would be.
post #383 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndreYew
Jar,

How lucky you are to be able to listen to the Cleveland Orchestra for all those years! Did you get to hear any Mahler there?

--Andre
ok.. I know I've heard just about every Mahler symphony there at Severance Hall.. and a few in other cities.

Here's what I remember:

Symphony #1 - Ling (Associate Conductor) w/ Cleveland
Dohnanyi w/ Cleveland

Symphony #2 - Ling w/ Cleveland
- Ashkenazy w/ Cleveland

Symphony #3 - Ling or Ashkenazy (not sure) w/ Cleveland

Symphony #4 - Ling w/ Cleveland
Slatkin w/ Cleveland

Symphony #5 - Dohnanyi w/ Cleveland (twice)
Eschenbach w/ Cleveland
Michael Tilson Thomas w/ London Symphony (in Columbus, OH)

Symphony #6 - Dohnanyi w/ Cleveland (twice)
Michael Tilson Thomas w/ Cleveland

Symphony #7 - Dohnanyi (I think) w/ Cleveland

Symphony #9 - Dohnanyi w/ Cleveland (twice, 1992 performance much better than later one in 1997)
Boulez w/ Chicago (December 1995)
Previn w/ Pittsburgh Symphony (March or April 2001)

Those are what I can remember, though I'm sure there are a few more mixed in there that I forgot.

-jar
post #384 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Ok that does it..............putting away my Mozart Piano Concerto stack, and out comes the Mahler stack.

Tonight fells like an Abbado night so:
- Abbado/DG/BPO Mahler 1
- Abbado/DG/BPO Mahler 5
- Abbado/DG/CSO Mahler 7
- Abbado/DG/BPO Mahler 9

Big screen TV is muted while I switch between baseball playoffs and college football.
post #385 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
Ok that does it..............putting away my Mozart Piano Concerto stack, and out comes the Mahler stack.

Tonight fells like an Abbado night so:
- Abbado/DG/BPO Mahler 1
- Abbado/DG/BPO Mahler 5
- Abbado/DG/CSO Mahler 7
- Abbado/DG/BPO Mahler 9

Big screen TV is muted while I switch between baseball playoffs and college football.
That's interesting, you've never come across as a "sports" type. I used to listen to music with baseball muted, but that was only for Cleveland Indians games, and only when they were doing well. Yes, I'm a very fair-weather fan.

Of those 4 I've heard Abbado's 1st, 7th and 9th. His 7th I think is one of the best, I haven't heard his 1st in years, though it was the very first classical I cd I heard (back in the mid-80's).. his 9th is good, but it's always left me kind of cold as compared to Karajan, Giulini and even Maazel.
-jar
post #386 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by saxphile


I think what I'm looking for is a brutal presentation of this work, without any *personal touch* or too much emotion from the conductor. I have already ordered Barbirolli with NPO and am considering Sanderling with St.Petersburg PO or Zander with PO. Would someone with experience with this work care to comment?
I've heard the Zander a few times, but I'm not familiar enough to comment.

As for Brutal? You might want to check out a few older versions.

Solti/Chicago (analog) - I have this on vinyl.. I should give it another spin one of these days. Very big sound, the tempos are pretty fast compared to most versions. One thing Solti does is he makes every climax huge, which is good in some ways, but it almost robs the latter climaxes of their impact.

Tennstedt/London Philharmonic. Similar to Solti, except the overall feel is more expansive, because Tennstedt takes somewhat slower tempos overall than Solti. Tenntesdt also does a better job of pacing himself, so that each successive peak is bigger than the one before.

Levine/Chicago - It's been a very long time since I listened to this one too.. I don't actually own it right now, I had it on tape but I loaned it out and it never got returned. But this one is even more expansive than Tennstedt's, maybe less brutal, more emotional, so maybe the Tennstedt might be the best one to check out.

Sinopoli/Philharmonia - Sinopoli seems to be going for the metaphysical here with his interpretation. But it's one of my favorites. Again though, I wish I owned it, but when I did I must have listened to it dozens of times. It's a great one, though "brutal" isn't a word I'd use for it.

-jar
post #387 of 3714
Thread Starter 
MJ
I better put some years next to those Abbado performances, three are the newest ones:

- Abbado/DG/BPO Mahler 1 (1991 live performance)
- Abbado/DG/BPO Mahler 5 (1993 live performance)
- Abbado/DG/CSO Mahler 7 (1984 studio)
- Abbado/DG/BPO Mahler 9 (2002 live performance)

There is also a newer Abbado/DG/BPO 7th made in 2001, I just have not gotten around to getting that plus his old 7th was his best Mahler till these newer BPO versions appeared.

DG has cobbled together an Abbado complete Mahler cycle from his various 1980's performances with BPO/VPO/CSO:




His newest Mahler set still currently in progress is really in another league from 1980's work and may turn out to best complete set ever recorded. I will keep buying any new Abbado as it comes out........in a previous post here on 10/05/04 I showed a live Abbado/DG Mahler 2 that has received rave reviews and I will buy as soon as possible.
post #388 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masonjar
Sinopoli/Philharmonia - Sinopoli seems to be going for the metaphysical here with his interpretation. But it's one of my favorites. Again though, I wish I owned it, but when I did I must have listened to it dozens of times. It's a great one, though "brutal" isn't a word I'd use for it.

-jar
I would like to try a couple of Sinopoli's DG performances, but seems only way to get them is complete set
There is the Mahler 1,5 CD which can be found used, but never really see any other Sinopoli Mahler CDs.
post #389 of 3714
Thanks everybody for the responses. I've been really busy over the weekend writing my paper. I suspect that I've used too much energy writing the review that I have a writer's block now.

DA, I listened to Karajan's 6th again just to make sure I wasn't speaking out of prejudice (I have quite a bit of it toward Karajan). I must admit that it's not really that bad, but I do feel something's missing. Perhaps I'll be able to describe what that is after trying a few other CDs. Apart from Barbirolli with NPO which I already ordered, I might go for Solti or Zander. Tennstedt's 6th seems to be quite hard to find, however.
post #390 of 3714
Thread Starter 
I have ordered a few more used Mahler CDs in the new Boulez/DG series, performances feature both Cleveland and Chicago SO and sound quality is supposed to be quite good. Not sure that any of these will be a reference but because of Boulez's modern music background should bring a refreshing twist to Mahler sound. I would expect him to be very good in works like Mahler 6,7 becuase of thier modern angular style.

Also picked up Chailly/London Mahler 8 to supplement Solti/London, sound is supposed to be spectacular. Almost got the Horenstein/BBC Legends Mahler 8th from 1959 but this is mono recording, performance wise many consider it best ever.
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