Author Topic: Mahler Mania, Rebooted  (Read 369957 times)

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Offline Madiel

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3960 on: January 02, 2018, 02:34:18 PM »
True, but the sorry fact is, that all the text (except for a few updates) had already been written -- so it was 'merely' an act of restoring all the links and the graphics and cleaning a messy file of raw, unreliable html code up... Still, I'm glad it's all up now. :-) Cheers.

Yes, but I reckon THAT is the tricky bit.

Just yesterday I looked, not for the first time, at whether I can turn my Holmboe pages on Blogger into a proper website. With a proper database of works and recordings. I've got almost no idea how to do it, which is why I resorted to Blogger in the first place.
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Turner

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3961 on: January 04, 2018, 03:39:17 AM »
The upcoming Membran Scherchen Mahler 10CD release - some details now at

http://www.hmv.co.jp/en/artist_Mahler-1860-1911_000000000019272/item_Sym-1-2-3-6-7-8-9-10-Adagio-Kindertotenlieder-Scherchen-Rpo-Vienna-State-Opera-O-Lipzig-Rso_8466235
(actually the detailed description in Japanese mentions the 5th Symphony as there, in the VStOpO 1953 recording)

Provided details:

1 / RPO 1954
2 / WStOpO 1958
Kindertoten / WStOpO, West 1958
3 / Leipzig, the Tahra issue 1960
5 / WStOpO 1953
6 / Leipzig, the Tahra issue 1960
7 / WSO live 1960 (the westminster/MCA release with WStOpO is from 1953)
10 /live 1960 (Leipzig, tahra?)
8 / WSO live 1951, Nasys, Ilitz, Ogle, Wieler ...
9 / WSO live 1951 (the Orfeo release with these forces says 1950)

Offline Cato

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3962 on: March 13, 2018, 02:20:14 PM »
A performance of the First Symphony from the Cincinnati Symphony last Friday, James Conlon conducting,  is available to be heard online.

http://inconcert.cincinnatisymphony.org/

The website at one spot gives Mahler's dates as 1685-1750    ???    which many will recognize as Bach's dates.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 02:22:25 PM by Cato »
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3963 on: March 14, 2018, 02:45:55 AM »
The website at one spot gives Mahler's dates as 1685-1750    ???    which many will recognize as Bach's dates.

Copy - Paste - Modify . . . well, two out of three ain't bad, right? . . .
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Offline Cato

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3964 on: March 14, 2018, 03:59:36 AM »
Copy - Paste - Modify . . . well, two out of three ain't bad, right? . . .

As Jack Nicholson reminds us in Mars Attacks!

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/VakU20APPdw" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/VakU20APPdw</a>

Today, my 8th Graders will in Latin II will hear the opening movement of Mahler's 8th Symphony "Veni, Creator Spiritus."  They received the Sacrament of Confirmation a week ago, so this seems appropriate!

Pierre Boulez on DGG with the Staatskapelle Berlin Orchestra.
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3965 on: March 14, 2018, 06:04:21 AM »

Today, my 8th Graders will in Latin II will hear the opening movement of Mahler's 8th Symphony "Veni, Creator Spiritus."  They received the Sacrament of Confirmation a week ago, so this seems appropriate!

Pierre Boulez on DGG with the Staatskapelle Berlin Orchestra.

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! [throws himself between students and stereo system in bullet-catching fashion] Not Boulez!!!

Offline André

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3966 on: March 14, 2018, 10:28:14 AM »
Admittedly, Boulez’ earlier performance (1971, with BBC forces) is more involved. Generally speaking I find the same qualities in his Debussy and his Mahler: objective to a fault, with little in the way of colouring or emotional involvement. If it’s in the score, Pierre will find it. But he won’t make any suggestions for a more eventful journey. His conducting reminds me a bit of the synthetic voice on my GPS: « In 300 feet, take the next exit and keep left until the next set of lights ».

For some reason I think he excels in Ravel. Because Maurice is a wizard with orchestral colours and textures, a conductor with an analytic set of ears will reveal the score’s felicities especially well.

Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3967 on: March 14, 2018, 10:54:14 AM »
Admittedly, Boulez’ earlier performance (1971, with BBC forces) is more involved. Generally speaking I find the same qualities in his Debussy and his Mahler: objective to a fault, with little in the way of colouring or emotional involvement. If it’s in the score, Pierre will find it. But he won’t make any suggestions for a more eventful journey. His conducting reminds me a bit of the synthetic voice on my GPS: « In 300 feet, take the next exit and keep left until the next set of lights ».

For some reason I think he excels in Ravel. Because Maurice is a wizard with orchestral colours and textures, a conductor with an analytic set of ears will reveal the score’s felicities especially well.

Well, I think a lot of the Boulez-stereotypes don't actually fit in Mahler, which is passionate, involving, even warm (1, 2, 5), riveting (6, 7), reasonably long-lined (4, 9)... or where it applies (cool, see-through), it works well (3). But the Eighth is an uninvolved chore, ungladly performed, run down without involvement or insight. It's arguably worse than Solti, because even if Solti (or Rattle) also get it really wrong, the former has great sound and some sort of sportive passion on his side.

Offline Madiel

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3968 on: March 14, 2018, 02:22:49 PM »
Admittedly, Boulez’ earlier performance (1971, with BBC forces) is more involved. Generally speaking I find the same qualities in his Debussy and his Mahler: objective to a fault, with little in the way of colouring or emotional involvement. If it’s in the score, Pierre will find it. But he won’t make any suggestions for a more eventful journey. His conducting reminds me a bit of the synthetic voice on my GPS: « In 300 feet, take the next exit and keep left until the next set of lights ».

For some reason I think he excels in Ravel. Because Maurice is a wizard with orchestral colours and textures, a conductor with an analytic set of ears will reveal the score’s felicities especially well.

It was Ravel who declared performers are slaves. No doubt he would not have at all appreciated anyone making "suggestions for a more eventful journey".

There's an interesting more general discussion there about music versus, say, performances of plays, or reading audio books.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 02:24:55 PM by ørfeo »
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Baron Scarpia

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3969 on: March 14, 2018, 02:30:12 PM »
Admittedly, Boulez’ earlier performance (1971, with BBC forces) is more involved. Generally speaking I find the same qualities in his Debussy and his Mahler: objective to a fault, with little in the way of colouring or emotional involvement. If it’s in the score, Pierre will find it. But he won’t make any suggestions for a more eventful journey. His conducting reminds me a bit of the synthetic voice on my GPS: « In 300 feet, take the next exit and keep left until the next set of lights ».

For some reason I think he excels in Ravel. Because Maurice is a wizard with orchestral colours and textures, a conductor with an analytic set of ears will reveal the score’s felicities especially well.

I have found myself unsatisfied with almost all of Boulez' later recordings with DGG because to my ears they have a 'clinical' sound, which I attribute to the style of audio engineering. They strike me as sounding different from the typical DGG recordings of the time and I suspect that was how Boulez wanted them to sound. They just don't appeal to me. I find myself enjoying his older Columbia/Sony recordings much more.

I think my favorite Boulez recording form his later years was the Schoenberg Pelleas et Melisande recorded by Erato, with the CSO I think. Remarkable transparency, which I consider the hallmark of a Boulez recording.

ComposerOfAvantGarde

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3970 on: March 14, 2018, 03:51:38 PM »
Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! [throws himself between students and stereo system in bullet-catching fashion] Not Boulez!!!

What do you have against Boulez's interpretations of Mahler? Personally, I find he is able to bring all elements of the counterpoint and orchestration together with very sensitively shaped phrasing and an amazing sense of some kind of underlying structural propulsion that makes his performances sound very cohesive. What I admire most about Boulez is his ability not just to shape the lines of counterpoint or melody that appear on the surface, but also to phrase the underlying melodic lines, motifs and gestures that exist beneath it. Even though Mahler wasn't one who wrote Hauptstimme and Nebenstimme into his scores, Boulez understands perfectly where and when they occur in the orchestral texture, shapes them accordingly and manages to make all lines of music exist interdependently but with utmost clarity.

But I am curious to hear what a pro music critic thinks :)

Baron Scarpia

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3971 on: March 14, 2018, 03:55:26 PM »
What do you have against Boulez's interpretations of Mahler? Personally, I find he is able to bring all elements of the counterpoint and orchestration together with very sensitively shaped phrasing and an amazing sense of some kind of underlying structural propulsion that makes his performances sound very cohesive. What I admire most about Boulez is his ability not just to shape the lines of counterpoint or melody that appear on the surface, but also to phrase the underlying melodic lines, motifs and gestures that exist beneath it. Even though Mahler wasn't one who wrote Hauptstimme and Nebenstimme into his scores, Boulez understands perfectly where and when they occur in the orchestral texture, shapes them accordingly and manages to make all lines of music exist interdependently but with utmost clarity.

^^^This is why I still haven't sold off my Boulez/Mahler Box, even though I don't count myself as owning it any more. I need to guard against the possibility that I will read a paragraph like this and buy the stinker again. (It's happened to me before.) :)

Offline Cato

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3972 on: March 14, 2018, 04:08:17 PM »
What do you have against Boulez's interpretations of Mahler? Personally, I find he is able to bring all elements of the counterpoint and orchestration together with very sensitively shaped phrasing and an amazing sense of some kind of underlying structural propulsion that makes his performances sound very cohesive. What I admire most about Boulez is his ability not just to shape the lines of counterpoint or melody that appear on the surface, but also to phrase the underlying melodic lines, motifs and gestures that exist beneath it. Even though Mahler wasn't one who wrote Hauptstimme and Nebenstimme into his scores, Boulez understands perfectly where and when they occur in the orchestral texture, shapes them accordingly and manages to make all lines of music exist interdependently but with utmost clarity.

But I am curious to hear what a pro music critic thinks :)

I had no idea of the antipathy toward the DGG Boulez recording, but Mr. Jessop parallels here what my ears perceive!  :D  One of the reasons why I play this one for the students is that the text is fairly clear all the time.
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ComposerOfAvantGarde

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3973 on: March 14, 2018, 04:39:17 PM »
Actually I find it very interesting whenever I hear someone disparage Boulez's Mahler. Evidently they are hearing something in his interpretation that I am not, so I do wish to learn more. One of fellow composition student friends says Boulez 'has no heart' in his interpretations of music in the Romantic and Classical traditions, but unfortunately I cannot hear the heartlessness in how he very convincingly moves from one tempo to another, or how he balances and subtly phrases different lines of counterpoint, or how he cohesively creates a sense of underlying movement throughout an entire thirty minute stretch of music. I don't know where the heartlessness is. I would be interested in having it pointed out to me. Perhaps I am not listening properly or something.

Offline Cato

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3974 on: March 14, 2018, 05:42:39 PM »
Actually I find it very interesting whenever I hear someone disparage Boulez's Mahler. Evidently they are hearing something in his interpretation that I am not, so I do wish to learn more. One of fellow composition student friends says Boulez 'has no heart' in his interpretations of music in the Romantic and Classical traditions, but unfortunately I cannot hear the heartlessness in how he very convincingly moves from one tempo to another, or how he balances and subtly phrases different lines of counterpoint, or how he cohesively creates a sense of underlying movement throughout an entire thirty minute stretch of music. I don't know where the heartlessness is. I would be interested in having it pointed out to me. Perhaps I am not listening properly or something.

To alter a famous Latin phrase: De auribus non est disputandum!  8)  The odds are that you are listening quite properly, in a way that suits you, and any heartlessness will never be obvious.

Consider that my brother-in-law closed his eyes and yawned within 30 seconds during a demonstration of my surround-sound system - with the opening of the last movement of Mahler's First Symphony roaring - and announced that it was putting him to sleep. :o :o :o ??? ??? ??? ::) ::) ::)

He heard "relaxing classical music," while I heard the wildest forces of The Id unchained!
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Offline André

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3975 on: March 14, 2018, 06:03:56 PM »
I can’t say Boulez’ Mahler is insensitive or leaves me cold. It does not. I can feel the rightness, the sense of total security he brings to his performances of Mahler’s music.

In the movie Andreï Rublev, there’s this strange, oniric scene in the Prologue where Rublev escapes in a balloon. Rublev lived in the 15th century and the hot air balloon was not invented before the 18th. Right there at the start of the movie you have that strong disconnect with objective reality and at the same time the intrusion of a total fantasy that challenges the reason. You know you’re in for something really special in the next 3 hours.

That’s the feeling I like to experience when listening to Mahler: a sense of mental levitation, of being totally out of touch and out of reach. Mahler’s music challenges the listener to experience that kind of subjectivity. Not every conductor achieves that. Boulez, in my experience, does not. What he offers instead is total objectivity with regard to the score. Not everybody achieves that either, so there’s something to reflect on.


Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3976 on: March 14, 2018, 06:19:10 PM »
Actually I find it very interesting whenever I hear someone disparage Boulez's Mahler. Evidently they are hearing something in his interpretation that I am not, so I do wish to learn more. One of fellow composition student friends says Boulez 'has no heart' in his interpretations of music in the Romantic and Classical traditions, but unfortunately I cannot hear the heartlessness in how he very convincingly moves from one tempo to another, or how he balances and subtly phrases different lines of counterpoint, or how he cohesively creates a sense of underlying movement throughout an entire thirty minute stretch of music. I don't know where the heartlessness is. I would be interested in having it pointed out to me. Perhaps I am not listening properly or something.
If we take a specific example, like the 7th, his tempi are rather frustrating for me. The first movement in particular feels plodding at times (it doesn't always, there are good moments), and I think that this distorts the line too much. The end of the first movement seems so lacking to me in terms of that wonderful explosion of sound. There is no buildup whatsoever and it sort of limps along where almost any other interpretation gives me such a high there.

If it makes you feel better, my favorite is Kondrashin and I think Serge bought it partially because I raved about it and I think he hated it (apologies if this is not true, but I seem to remember it this way (and apologies if it is true for buying something you don't listen to!). Sometimes something just clicks. Someone wrote recently about how horrible the Mahler 2 Abaddo/Lucerne is. Well, it's the first Mahler anything where I heard what so many others were already hearing. I love it. So as good as some versions may be, not everyone wants the same aspects of the work emphasized.

The other thing I'd add is that finding a conductor who is universally loved in Mahler is quite difficult to find. There are always people who think someone else performs his work better (for the most part meaning they really just bring out something else in the work), which dovetails nicely with Andre's last comment.
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3977 on: March 14, 2018, 06:57:12 PM »
Actually I find it very interesting whenever I hear someone disparage Boulez's Mahler. Evidently they are hearing something in his interpretation that I am not, so I do wish to learn more. One of fellow composition student friends says Boulez 'has no heart' in his interpretations of music in the Romantic and Classical traditions, but unfortunately I cannot hear the heartlessness in how he very convincingly moves from one tempo to another, or how he balances and subtly phrases different lines of counterpoint, or how he cohesively creates a sense of underlying movement throughout an entire thirty minute stretch of music. I don't know where the heartlessness is. I would be interested in having it pointed out to me. Perhaps I am not listening properly or something.
It seems to be—if you'll forgive the terminology—a meme. When Boulez began conducting Mahler the name on everyone's lips was Bernstein, and Bernstein tends to imprint on the music he conducts, especially Mahler, who many conductors do seem to see as the most interpretable composer in the repertoire (though often "interpret" apparently means "make a wet handkerchief of"). As the one most often credited with bringing Mahler into the mainstream, Bernstein is still The Man for many people when it comes to this music. Some might cite Kubelík or Walter, Klemperer or even Scherchen, but for most people Bernstein and Mahler are inextricably bound together. Boulez seems much more monastic in his approach, as if he views the score as a higher power than himself; despite his reputation as a mud slinger and a bully I think his recorded body of work reveals a musician of great humility and empathy. At the risk of oversimplifying and sparking a row: Boulez gives you what Mahler wrote, Bernstein gives you an elaboration, what he thinks Mahler meant by what he wrote. Why people prefer one over the other is a meaningless question, but if Boulez is cold then perhaps Mahler is cold too.

That's not to say Boulez is the perfect conductor or anything. He does of course interpret, it's impossible not to, and he has his weaknesses like anyone else. On that note, I wish—and I am not talking about Boulez specifically—more conductors would be like Walter and Klemperer and recognise that maybe one symphony or another just isn't for them. The "Everestism" about "doing a Mahler cycle" is a fad that needs to end, most of them are totally interchangeable exercises in the main, and only a symphony or two in the entire set might have something interesting in it.

Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3978 on: March 15, 2018, 12:33:27 AM »
What do you have against Boulez's interpretations of Mahler? Personally, I find he is able to bring all elements of the counterpoint and orchestration together with very sensitively shaped phrasing and an amazing sense of some kind of underlying structural propulsion that makes his performances sound very cohesive. What I admire most about Boulez is his ability not just to shape the lines of counterpoint or melody that appear on the surface, but also to phrase the underlying melodic lines, motifs and gestures that exist beneath it. Even though Mahler wasn't one who wrote Hauptstimme and Nebenstimme into his scores, Boulez understands perfectly where and when they occur in the orchestral texture, shapes them accordingly and manages to make all lines of music exist interdependently but with utmost clarity.

But I am curious to hear what a pro music critic thinks :)

Nothing. Quite the opposite, I love Boulez' Mahler. I think his cycle may be the new standard-setter, surpassing Gielen in that respect. At his best he's among the best (1, 5, 6, 7), elsewhere he's at least very good (2, 4, 9), and in 3 he brings unique qualities (x-ray vision) to the work that I happen to love.

If anything, I may have been among the earlier GMG-Mahler-heads to point out that Boulez has recorded Mahler that goes well beyond the stereotype we might have of him. And, if I remember correctly, a lot of what I stated in my Mahler-Survey was borne out by the occ. blind listening we did here. (See post above/below)

But the 8th stinks. It's just atrocious. He hated it and you can hear it. Similar to Haitink's case, who also didn't get the work and couldn't muster a great performance.

Quote
Admittedly, Boulez’ earlier performance (1971, with BBC forces) is more involved. Generally speaking I find the same qualities in his Debussy and his Mahler: objective to a fault, with little in the way of colouring or emotional involvement. If it’s in the score, Pierre will find it. But he won’t make any suggestions for a more eventful journey. His conducting reminds me a bit of the synthetic voice on my GPS: « In 300 feet, take the next exit and keep left until the next set of lights ».

For some reason I think he excels in Ravel. Because Maurice is a wizard with orchestral colours and textures, a conductor with an analytic set of ears will reveal the score’s felicities especially well.

Well, I think a lot of the Boulez-stereotypes don't actually fit in Mahler, which is passionate, involving, even warm (1, 2, 5), riveting (6, 7), reasonably long-lined (4, 9)... or where it applies (cool, see-through), it works well (3). But the Eighth is an uninvolved chore, ungladly performed, run down without involvement or insight. It's arguably worse than Solti, because even if Solti (or Rattle) also get it really wrong, the former has great sound and some sort of sportive passion on his side.


Offline ritter

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #3979 on: March 15, 2018, 01:08:06 AM »
I too am an admirer of Boulez’s Mahler (no surprise there), as I think, by avoiding an overtly emotional approach to the works, he underlines their purely musical values. IMHO, in music such as this, emphasizing the music’s (real or alleged) “message”—à la Bernstein e.g.—simply brings one aspect of it to the forefront, often masking others which I personally find more attractive, such as the baffling counterpoint, orchestration, thematic development, etc.

Having said that, I am with Jens regarding the Boulez’s Eighth. I read in an interview he really didn’t care much for the work (neither do I, FWIW), and was not sure he would record it. Then, surprisingly, he did, and I read somewhere he actually funded the recording himself. If the latter is true, I suppose the idea of having a complete cycle (his DG traversal of Mahler’s music is actually the most complete, except for the completion of the 10th, which he—along with other noted conductors—completely dismissed) imposed itself over any reservations he had about the Eighth. The result is a performance that IMHO is not that successful, and doesn’t show the qualities one (or at least I) associates with Boulez in Mahler. The vocal soloists aren’t that great either IMO. FWIW, my go-to Eighth is Sinopoli’s ( the “anti-Boulez”?).
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