Author Topic: Mahler Symphony No. 6  (Read 1609 times)

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Offline Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #40 on: September 14, 2018, 08:53:49 AM »
But Abbado made what IMHO is one of the great Mahler recordings of all time:



Just sayin’  ;)

I had that recording at one point. It is not a work that I really love. The one Abbado recording I have which I generally like is his Mahler 5 with the CSO. That was from 1975 or so. In my cynical mind, I think that in those days the orchestras more or less ignored him and played however they wanted. They were probably remembering how Solti told them to do it. It wasn't until later that Abbado really learned how to ruin things. :)

Offline Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #41 on: September 14, 2018, 09:04:28 AM »
His recent live Mahler was quite good, performed consistently well. But I think his real strength was in opera. His Simon Boccanegra is as good as it gets. He's done some fabulous Rossini, Donizetti and Mozart. And his Mussorgsky Khovanshchina was the first good modern version available for this piece (and is still at the top of the heap). I could go on, but this is a Mahler thread. Having said all this, I do not like his studio versions (referring to Mahler again) - the live version on Blu-ray in the years before his death are much to be preferred.

Well, the BPO (among others) hired him, so clearly he was capable. But I have rarely heard a recording by him that resonated with me.

Offline PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #42 on: September 14, 2018, 09:28:06 AM »
i think that is the key: resonate is such a subjective term. I think his Mahler in general is a bit characterless as in it sounds just about like every other Mahler recording out there. I rather like his CSO Mahler 7th and his Viennese 3rd is also rather good.

Offline JBS

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #43 on: September 14, 2018, 12:24:31 PM »
I find Abbado in Mahler to be sometimes excellent, sometimes horrible, sometimes just mainstream.
I think his Berlin 7th is the best performance of that symphony I have ever heard. But his M2 with Vienna ans again with Lucerne are the worst I have ever heard. His CSO M2 is good.

Offline Josquin13

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #44 on: September 14, 2018, 12:30:55 PM »
Taking the old Mitropoulos NYP & F. Charles Adler Mahler 6s off the table (even though Adler was one of Mahler's proteges)--due to sound restrictions (as requested in the opening post), along with the 1991 Tennstedt 6th because it's live, I'd say the finest Mahler 6s I've heard over the decades have been the following 5 or 6 recordings (listed in no particular order)--all of which can be heard on You Tube:

1. Leonard Bernstein: New York Philharmonic--normally, it's a no brainer for me to favor Bernstein's Columbia/Sony recordings over his later DG recordings (esp. the ones he made in Vienna), and while I do prefer his early NYP Mahler 6th over the later Vienna 6th, it's not so clear cut this time, as both are very good.  Indeed, this is one instance where I could safely recommend either recording; although, if pressed, yes, I do find the NYP performance a bit more dynamic and brilliant (it begins at 2:04: 26 on the following You Tube clip): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok8wwvduSJo&frags=pl%2Cwn

2. Here's Bernstein's Vienna performance, so you can decide for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dex4aQGotps&frags=pl%2Cwn

3. I'd also strongly recommend Leif Segerstam's excellent Mahler 6th, which is one of the finest in the catalogue, IMO (& don't be deterred by the Danish orchestra--as they play remarkably well): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK1Nu5nkKfg&frags=pl%2Cwn.  (Segerstam's Mahler 5th & 9th are excellent too.)

4. Gunther Herbig is another fine, unsung Mahler conductor.  His 5th & 6th are well worth getting to know among his Mahler recordings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL3jY6g1Rf8&list=OLAK5uy_liVPxRzj-jr-lQu5qM5As3f-JSBEHpUP0

5. I'm also a great admirer of Rafael Kubelik, and his DG (& live Audite) Mahler 6th is very fine too (and more driven than the others); however, with that said, Kubelik's DG Mahler needs to be newly remastered, IMO, & it probably will be soon, as it's long overdo (so far, only Kubelik's DG 1st has been remastered since the earliest days of the CD).  Nevertheless, Kubelik's DG 6th sounds perfectly good on You Tube (it may be an LP?--as there was nothing wrong with the original sound of the LPs): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m8cs8umfkI&frags=pl%2Cwn

6. Jascha Horenstein's Stockholm 6th should be heard too (though it is live), as his view of this symphony differs from other conductors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRDZswVLeZA&frags=pl%2Cwn  (There's also a live Horenstein Mahler 6th that was recorded with the Bournemouth S.O., but the sound quality is more of a challenge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY3PX1lCx3U&frags=pl%2Cwn

Finally, I'm normally a fan of Sir John Barbirolli's Mahler (esp. the Mahler song cycles he recorded with Dame Janet Baker--which are desert island discs in my collection), but I don't think the 6th was one of Sir John's best Mahler symphonies.  For one, I find the way he makes the music almost stutter at the opening of the 1st movement a bit odd (as it's different from the way others conduct this movement):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCnZJaRtZSo&frags=pl%2Cwn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzjtaiExMwA&list=PL7BhxaEv8fJOKaopTTYmDlHwO8Q70WWqr

However, if you're looking to collect a variety of different interpretations of the 6th, then Barbirolli's studio (and live) recording does sense (& many listeners are devoted to his Mahler).

Among recordings I've not yet heard, but which are on my wish list, I'd most like to hear Riccardo Chailly's Leipzig Gewandhaus Mahler 6th (on DVD & Blu-ray).  Judging by what I've listened to so far from this cycle (a brilliant Leipzig 9th on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfaY1wTAtyM&frags=pl%2Cwn), Chailly's Leipzig cycle may be even better than his earlier Concertgebouw cycle.  Indeed, the excerpt from the 6th here does sound better (& good enough to go onto my list of top favorites):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9MbS7Z1Z5o&frags=pl%2Cwn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nla-nDaWPuQ&frags=pl%2Cwn

P.S. To conclude, I'd be remiss not to add that Dmitri Mitropoulos's New York Philharmonic 6th is legendary & worth hearing, at least once in your life, even if the sound does put you off: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HSvGX2lG94&frags=pl%2Cwn

My two cents.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 01:05:43 PM by Josquin13 »

Offline André

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #45 on: September 14, 2018, 02:18:58 PM »
I really like these two:



It is grim and stark, hugely dramatic, with unusual tempo relationships, a bit like a Klemperer performance: energetic but measured in the outer movements, flowing in the middle ones. The RSO Leipzig has a very dark sound.



Very expansive, very lyrical, a rich chocolate palette. The sound is gorgeous.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 04:21:56 PM by André »

Offline amw

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #46 on: September 25, 2018, 04:47:43 AM »
I was surprised to discover that Charles Mackerras & the BBC Philharmonic have a pretty good recording of this piece as well, though only released on a BBC Music Magazine CD. Not a conductor I would have ordinarily considered for this repertoire.

edit: and I see already mentioned in this thread, oops
« Last Edit: September 25, 2018, 04:49:41 AM by amw »

Offline relm1

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #47 on: September 25, 2018, 05:30:28 AM »
Taking the old Mitropoulos NYP & F. Charles Adler Mahler 6s off the table (even though Adler was one of Mahler's proteges)--due to sound restrictions (as requested in the opening post), along with the 1991 Tennstedt 6th because it's live, I'd say the finest Mahler 6s I've heard over the decades have been the following 5 or 6 recordings (listed in no particular order)--all of which can be heard on You Tube:

1. Leonard Bernstein: New York Philharmonic--normally, it's a no brainer for me to favor Bernstein's Columbia/Sony recordings over his later DG recordings (esp. the ones he made in Vienna), and while I do prefer his early NYP Mahler 6th over the later Vienna 6th, it's not so clear cut this time, as both are very good.  Indeed, this is one instance where I could safely recommend either recording; although, if pressed, yes, I do find the NYP performance a bit more dynamic and brilliant (it begins at 2:04: 26 on the following You Tube clip): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok8wwvduSJo&frags=pl%2Cwn

2. Here's Bernstein's Vienna performance, so you can decide for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dex4aQGotps&frags=pl%2Cwn

3. I'd also strongly recommend Leif Segerstam's excellent Mahler 6th, which is one of the finest in the catalogue, IMO (& don't be deterred by the Danish orchestra--as they play remarkably well): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK1Nu5nkKfg&frags=pl%2Cwn.  (Segerstam's Mahler 5th & 9th are excellent too.)

4. Gunther Herbig is another fine, unsung Mahler conductor.  His 5th & 6th are well worth getting to know among his Mahler recordings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL3jY6g1Rf8&list=OLAK5uy_liVPxRzj-jr-lQu5qM5As3f-JSBEHpUP0

5. I'm also a great admirer of Rafael Kubelik, and his DG (& live Audite) Mahler 6th is very fine too (and more driven than the others); however, with that said, Kubelik's DG Mahler needs to be newly remastered, IMO, & it probably will be soon, as it's long overdo (so far, only Kubelik's DG 1st has been remastered since the earliest days of the CD).  Nevertheless, Kubelik's DG 6th sounds perfectly good on You Tube (it may be an LP?--as there was nothing wrong with the original sound of the LPs): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m8cs8umfkI&frags=pl%2Cwn

6. Jascha Horenstein's Stockholm 6th should be heard too (though it is live), as his view of this symphony differs from other conductors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRDZswVLeZA&frags=pl%2Cwn  (There's also a live Horenstein Mahler 6th that was recorded with the Bournemouth S.O., but the sound quality is more of a challenge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY3PX1lCx3U&frags=pl%2Cwn

Finally, I'm normally a fan of Sir John Barbirolli's Mahler (esp. the Mahler song cycles he recorded with Dame Janet Baker--which are desert island discs in my collection), but I don't think the 6th was one of Sir John's best Mahler symphonies.  For one, I find the way he makes the music almost stutter at the opening of the 1st movement a bit odd (as it's different from the way others conduct this movement):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCnZJaRtZSo&frags=pl%2Cwn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzjtaiExMwA&list=PL7BhxaEv8fJOKaopTTYmDlHwO8Q70WWqr

However, if you're looking to collect a variety of different interpretations of the 6th, then Barbirolli's studio (and live) recording does sense (& many listeners are devoted to his Mahler).

Among recordings I've not yet heard, but which are on my wish list, I'd most like to hear Riccardo Chailly's Leipzig Gewandhaus Mahler 6th (on DVD & Blu-ray).  Judging by what I've listened to so far from this cycle (a brilliant Leipzig 9th on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfaY1wTAtyM&frags=pl%2Cwn), Chailly's Leipzig cycle may be even better than his earlier Concertgebouw cycle.  Indeed, the excerpt from the 6th here does sound better (& good enough to go onto my list of top favorites):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9MbS7Z1Z5o&frags=pl%2Cwn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nla-nDaWPuQ&frags=pl%2Cwn

P.S. To conclude, I'd be remiss not to add that Dmitri Mitropoulos's New York Philharmonic 6th is legendary & worth hearing, at least once in your life, even if the sound does put you off: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HSvGX2lG94&frags=pl%2Cwn

My two cents.

Why no love for the SFO/MTT No. 6?  I think it was recorded fantastically and features a very memorable interpretation.  The recording took place on September 12, 2001, and it is hard not to feel the national loss in that performance.  I was in the audience as well so anytime I hear it, brings me back to those terrible days.

Offline PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #48 on: September 26, 2018, 07:21:09 AM »
Why no love for the SFO/MTT No. 6?  I think it was recorded fantastically and features a very memorable interpretation.  The recording took place on September 12, 2001, and it is hard not to feel the national loss in that performance.  I was in the audience as well so anytime I hear it, brings me back to those terrible days.
The extra-musical connotations aside the performance is pretty mainstream. I appreciate MTT's placing the Scherzo before the Andante (no matter who says what I still can't listen to it the other way around). i don't think there is anything wrong with the performance. It is well-played and detailed. The Andante drags on a bit and some sections lack a bit of contrast but overall is a fine performance.

Offline relm1

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #49 on: September 26, 2018, 03:36:28 PM »
Is there an official word on the movement order?  I prefer the scherzo as second because it gives greater expressive contrast to have the adagio next to the finale.  Otherwise is a bit tiresome.  It is interesting that a composer as exacting as Mahler seemed to be unspecific on many details like the third hammer blow (which I've heard is described as optional) and the movement sequence.

Offline amw

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #50 on: September 26, 2018, 03:52:56 PM »
Andante/Scherzo is the movement order of the first published version & Mahler’s preference. Scherzo/Andante was the movement order of the manuscript up until the rehearsals, when Mahler changed it. A potential complicating factor is that originally there were two scherzi, one on either side of the Andante, before the second one was cut (I think about 70 bars of it have survived in short score; Mahler probably never completed it) which accounts for his change of mind to some extent.

Offline PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #51 on: September 26, 2018, 04:39:21 PM »
Andante/Scherzo is the movement order of the first published version & Mahler’s preference. Scherzo/Andante was the movement order of the manuscript up until the rehearsals, when Mahler changed it. A potential complicating factor is that originally there were two scherzi, one on either side of the Andante, before the second one was cut (I think about 70 bars of it have survived in short score; Mahler probably never completed it) which accounts for his change of mind to some extent.
As good an answer as any.

I was reading this article and got about 2 pages in before losing interest on this topic:

https://www.dlib.si/stream/URN:NBN:SI:DOC-IUTUYIVG/f7d2b1ee-654a-4ebd-ba06-faf1faeae13a/PDF

Abbado recorded the work with the inner mvts in both orders.

Offline Biffo

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #52 on: September 27, 2018, 12:28:20 AM »
Is there an official word on the movement order?  I prefer the scherzo as second because it gives greater expressive contrast to have the adagio next to the finale.  Otherwise is a bit tiresome.  It is interesting that a composer as exacting as Mahler seemed to be unspecific on many details like the third hammer blow (which I've heard is described as optional) and the movement sequence.

Depends what you mean by 'official' . The International Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft is the nearest thing to an official body for Mahler's music but it was their edition and its editor Erwin Ratz that caused the problem. He published the work in the order Scherzo-Andante, basing his decision on a telegram sent by Alma Mahler to Wilhelm Mengelberg and ignored Mahler's own wishes (see previous postings).

Many conductors took the IGMG edition to be definitive and followed it. The first version I got to know was Kubelik's and he uses the IGMG edition; for many years Scherzo-Andante was the only version I knew and, in truth, is what I prefer but really it should be Andante-Scherzo. Nowadays I just play the discs as they come and don't attempt to reorder the movements.

The 6th wasn't the first time Mahler changed his mind. He wrote the 2nd symphony in the order Scherzo-Andante. As he was making no progress with the Finale he sent the three completed movements to Berlin for performance. Shortly afterwards he changed his mind and reversed the order of the movements. He wrote to Berlin informing the conductor who was rehearsing the work of his decision; the rehearsal material shows the change.

Offline Wanderer

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #53 on: September 27, 2018, 12:43:41 AM »
Andante/Scherzo is the movement order of the first published version & Mahler’s preference. Scherzo/Andante was the movement order of the manuscript up until the rehearsals, when Mahler changed it. A potential complicating factor is that originally there were two scherzi, one on either side of the Andante, before the second one was cut (I think about 70 bars of it have survived in short score; Mahler probably never completed it) which accounts for his change of mind to some extent.

This sums it up succinctly.

...basing his decision on a telegram sent by Alma Mahler to Wilhelm Mengelberg and ignored Mahler's own wishes (see previous postings).

Dear Alma at work again.  $:)

Offline André

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Re: Mahler Symphony No. 6
« Reply #54 on: September 27, 2018, 03:26:58 AM »
Depends what you mean by 'official' . The International Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft is the nearest thing to an official body for Mahler's music but it was their edition and its editor Erwin Ratz that caused the problem. He published the work in the order Scherzo-Andante, basing his decision on a telegram sent by Alma Mahler to Wilhelm Mengelberg and ignored Mahler's own wishes (see previous postings).

Many conductors took the IGMG edition to be definitive and followed it. The first version I got to know was Kubelik's and he uses the IGMG edition; for many years Scherzo-Andante was the only version I knew and, in truth, is what I prefer but really it should be Andante-Scherzo. Nowadays I just play the discs as they come and don't attempt to reorder the movements.

The 6th wasn't the first time Mahler changed his mind. He wrote the 2nd symphony in the order Scherzo-Andante. As he was making no progress with the Finale he sent the three completed movements to Berlin for performance. Shortly afterwards he changed his mind and reversed the order of the movements. He wrote to Berlin informing the conductor who was rehearsing the work of his decision; the rehearsal material shows the change.

The article posted above by Perfect Wagnerite is very interesting. The author definitely sides with Mahler’s final thoughts, calling them « an abrupt decision that proved to be a stroke of genius ». The article laids out all the technical and musical matters that have fueled the debate over the years. There are musical pros and cons both ways, but the balance of advantages favours the revised order (andante/scherzo). But the sixth symphony is an extremely complex organism that can accept different points of view phrase after phrase, paragraph after paragraph and it’s the conductor’s instinct and musical judgment that ultimately gives it its definitive shape. Therefore, my opinion is that the official word on the movement order belongs to the conductor. He alone is the captain on this 80 minute musical journey. Some conductors actually perform the symphony both ways (like Ivan Fischer).

Last week I mentioned the 1963 Goldschmidt BBC performance, one of the first ever performed in the UK. Goldschmidt took the repeat in I and played the movements in the revised order. I, too, have first heard and loved it in the scherzo/andante order and prefer it that way. Mahler is supposed to have made his decision based on the effect, or impression caused by a second rythmically strong movement (too heavy), discarding the traditional hermonic tenets of key relationships that would have made the scherzo/andante order more « musical ». That was daring and actually caused experts such as Theodor Adorno to reject his decision (of which we know strictly nothing in terms of arguments: Mahler never explained his reasoning).