Author Topic: The Great Mahler Debate  (Read 87147 times)

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PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #20 on: April 22, 2007, 10:04:19 AM »
This is ludicrous:

There are tons of more promising composers to explore, Dittersdorf being one of them

Now nobody in their right mind will think Dittersdorf, who is a good second-rate composer, at best, is more "promising" than Mahler. I have listened to D's music and even if you play it as background music you are not missing much.

Offline knight66

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #21 on: April 22, 2007, 10:12:39 AM »
Anyway....segue...Mahler, lets have some insight into his music. Where is DavidW when we need him?

Mike
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greg

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #22 on: April 22, 2007, 11:11:20 AM »
Here's a new thread, for the new forum, to discuss the ever-fascinating (and highly addictive) symphonies and lieder of Gustav Mahler.  ;D

With the beginning of this year, I finally took the plunge and dived into Mahler's world, only previously being familiar with the 2nd and the opening Ven-i, ven-i cre-a-tor of the 8th, plus dazzling various snatches heard from radio. I ran across an estate sale in December of a band director who had a large classical collection (spanning the 40s until the present!) so I just kind of ended up with the Solti set and several of the other symphonies individually. I wish I had gotten the Mahler scores but they and some other recordings had gone to friends.

I put off the Mahler journey for a long time, too long, associating his works as being big and difficult listening. But maybe fate had known when I was ready, because though they're both of those things at times, now I find them immediately appealing and fresh, and begging repeated listens to catch the kaleidoscope of scenes flashing past. He was such a creative and unafraid composer - brilliant, full stop.

So I, like many, have fallen in love with his alternate reality - one of triumph, despair, bliss, and angst from minute to minute, exotic vignettes spanning east to west, as he aptly referred to, the whole world in a microcosm. Stunning to listen to, completely transporting, a whirlwind sweeping any preconceived notions out the window. Somehow one of everything (or even many) could never be enough, he had so much to say, and as a result, so do his interpreters. Soon you're salivating over the endless recommendations returned at Amazon, and you've just got to download that Boulez 3rd-Salonen 8th-Dudamel 1st at Operashare, and please-can-I-borrow that Kubelik? By then, write it off, you're a goner. :D

What is it exactly that inspires this kind of passion in his music? I often see cases of Mahleria around, and it always intrigued me, but now, yeah, I completely understand! It's hard to put your finger on the exact cause, but...for example, I'm in the middle of the last movement of the 3rd, and it's just devastating, so achingly gorgeous and painful. When I get to the end of a Mahler symphony, I feel exhausted and exhilarated, it takes all my effort to follow him on the voyage, but boy is it ever so rewarding.

In recent years, it seems Mahler is more popular than ever, I was reading posts at the old board, and there were no less than 7 members with Mahler in their name. 8) It's hip to be a Mahler fan now, his concerts are classical happenings, young conductors are much lauded if they can pull him off, a dearth of new recordings, when did Mahler become the hottest thing since sliced bread? Before the Bernstein era, Mahler wasn't nearly as popular, does he deserve the real credit for this renaissance?

In any case, we're spoiled for choices, recorded or live, and it's wonderful. I only see the Mahler trend growing. I'll post later about which recordings I have heard, but I still haven't taken on the 1st, 6th, 9th, or 10th at all, I tend to digest them in pieces rather slowly, and am currently involved with the 3rd and the 7th (which I adore). Also, I am reluctant for the Solti to be my first hearing for any of the symphonies with what I've read and my own experience. I began with the 5th and the 4th, and had other options, and was disappointed when I heard the Solti, not that it was bad per se as I greatly respect him, but a bit too blaringly obvious.

Postscript: As I've been writing this, I've been listening to a cracking live 3rd by Salonen from a friend, as I'm about to spring for his M3 with LA, but I don't have much information about this radio recording. I think it's surely mislabeled, as it says "London Symphony Orchestra" (don't recall him performing it with them?). It's conducted very much like the LA recording at least in the first movement from clips I've heard, and has some tuning problems and some spectacular brass flubs at the end of the Comodo, if that helps. But the interpretation is grand. I'll upload it sometime.

And as a sidenote, how do you pull this one off in a few days at 25 when you've never conducted it, incredible. Part circus, part tragedy, and so long and demanding. Now that I'm familiar with this work, I'm really in awe about that feat!


 
you just took the words right out of my mouth  0:)

can you believe it- i actually managed to go without Mahler for a few days, until yesterday i listened to the 8th to follow along with the new score i found online, and then the 10th, before going to sleep.

hahaha Elgar more complex than Mahler..... that's really funny....
i just spent an hour studying a single page of one of Mahler's scores today

PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2007, 11:17:38 AM »
Bach to Mahler, the 3rd symphony was written in 1896 and has a long adagio finale. Can you think of any other symphonies before this that has an adagio finale. The only one I can think of is Tchaikovsky's 6th and Haydn's Farewell. Bruckner's 9th doesn't count since had he lived he would definitely have composed a 4th movement. And I think SIbelius' 1st was written in 1899.

greg

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #24 on: April 22, 2007, 11:22:14 AM »
now listening: Mahler- Blumine to 1st symphony

why is this strange?
because i've never heard this movement before, and i'm hearing it for the first time on one of his myspace pages  ;D

Offline BachQ

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #25 on: April 22, 2007, 11:34:53 AM »
Haydn's Farewell

AFAIK, Haydn's Farewell is the first symphony to conclude with an adagio / slow movement . . . . . .

greg

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #26 on: April 22, 2007, 11:37:01 AM »
AFAIK, Haydn's Farewell is the first symphony to conclude with an adagio / slow movement . . . . . .
no, actually, once Ubloobideega travelled back in time to the year 1650 and wrote his 32nd symphony, of which the last movement was an adagio.

do your studying, jit, don't you know ANYTHING!!!!!????  ::)
sheesh......

mahlertitan

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #27 on: April 22, 2007, 12:38:06 PM »
Some movements/parts of Mahler symphonies may be complex but over 50 % of what I have heard is not complex. In fact the music sounds like it's in sleep and I am screaming please, wake up!

Complexity is not only the amount of notes/bar, it's about how much music you have per one note.

I don't dislike Mahler. It's just easy listening and I get a little bored for it's simplicity and tediousness.

i am speechless, i hope that you will EVENTUALLY (some time in your life) realize how stupid you just sounded.

Greta

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #28 on: April 22, 2007, 03:29:44 PM »
Shame on 71db for hijacking the Mahler thread...  It's okay if you don't like Mahler's music, but don't down it. This is an appreciation thread. ;)  You know, I also love Elgar, he's one of my favorites, but he and Mahler's music are so very different. But Elgar's music, his symphonies, can be very complex, he has subtle layers that take many listening to reveal themselves.

Quote
Sometimes I feel like I have to measure my comments on Mahler -- otherwise I would take too much time away from other, equally worthy composers who just happened to write in a different style. :D But I do respond to Mahler's complexity, wrenching emotions, rapid changes of mood, strange juxtapositions, and his brilliantly unusual orchestrations with instrumental combinations no one else at the time was even considering.

Perfectly put, Bruce! When I listen to Mahler, I get sucked in, I'm riveted to his constant twists and turns and end up rewinding over and over to catch the ideas flying past. He rarely lets the listener rest, you're always on your toes. His orchestrations are fascinating, I think his conducting certainly had an influence on knowing how to use the orchestra to maximum effect. Very colorful and uncoventional, the mandolin in the 7th, gotta love it. He was really an innovator, I love the way he plays with tonality. Slipping in and out of major and minor, sometimes within the same phrase.

So I listened to the 7th earlier, which is one of my favorites of Mahler so far. The 3rd and 7th are my current loves. The Bernstein/Vienna recording is raw and exciting, though maybe too brash at times. But it's exotic and a thrilling ride. It's a new arrival and will take some digesting. The brass playing is really stunning, in the 1st mvmt ending for example. I also have Chailly/Concertgebouw and it's really very nice. The sound is amazing, and he brings out Mahler's quirky orchestration techniques to the fullest, like the col legnos at the beginning of Mvmt II are heard very clearly. A lovely lyrical sweep to the string playing and the brass are full and resonant yet controlled, technically outstanding.  But, sometimes he's too precious.

I have a funny story about the 7th, I was listening to classical radio online one night, to a new releases show on Harvard radio, and tuned in the midst of a really nice piece (the 7th was unknown to me then). A gorgeous lyrical melody, then suddenly a swashbuckling, heroic statement, then a drunken moment, then back to the beautiful melody, all in the space of a few minutes. I was baffled, who could this be? Sometimes it sounded Russian, sometimes like a German romantic, even an Englishman (opening of Finale of 7th), it was like all the best parts of my favorite composers rolled up into one. I thought, my it's quite schizophrenic, but what fun. Such great themes. I was so curious, who was it? But the length finally tipped me, and wait...schizophrenic...it has to be Mahler! And I knew what symphony by process of elimination, the 7th, claimed to be his most odd. But, I didn't find it hard or strange to listen to, I was hanging on every note, excited to see what was around the bend. Once I knew the piece, then I was dying to find out the recording, and I must admit Mahler is such a tease, in the end we keep waiting for him to wind it up, but each time, it's "Ha! Gotcha", and we're off again for another round, before coming to the final awe-inspiring brass chorale, cowbells and all. Whew! So the recording was the new Tilson Thomas with San Francisco, and I liked it a lot. I may get that soon.

The performances I have so far:

Set - Solti/CSO
1st - no others yet
2nd - Ozawa/Boston
3rd - Abbado/Vienna/DG, Bernstein/NYPO/DG, Salonen/? from radio
4th - Dohnanyi/Cleveland
5th - Levi/Atlanta
6th - no others yet
7th - Chailly/Concertgebouw, Bernstein/Vienna
8th - Haitink/Concertgebouw (live 1971 Holland Festival, radio) (Actually I like the Solti 8th)
9th - Karajan/Berlin/DG (live)
10th - Rattle/Berlin (Cooke III)
Kindertotenlieder, Ruckertlieder - Christa Ludwig, Karajan/Berlin (the 2nd CD of his 9th, the 1st CD was missing! It was used)
DLvdE - Bernstein/Vienna

Of these I haven't listened yet to the Bernstein 3rd, the Karajan live 9th, and the Rattle 10th.

Here's the thread from the old board on recommendations for the symphonies:
Favorite CD Performances Mahler Symphonies 1-9

I'm just now listening to the Abbado/Vienna/DG 3rd, the 1st Mvmt.  :o Truly spectacular, my god, the sound and the playing are amazing. Terrifying in fact. Such clarity and fine balance, dramatic as hell, but also sensitive and lingering when called for. Just a sublime performance. I think the finest Mahler recording I have had the pleasure to hear thus far. Eh, too bad I'm only borrowing it! (Hey, in the 1st mvmt, the (Allegro Moderato), that horn soli, does it remind anyone else of Shosty's 5th? :D)

71db - You need to hear this Mahler 3rd, if you're interested just let me know. This music isn't only awake, but under Abbado I swear it could wake the dead. If you listen to it, and don't like it, hey, that's cool, but you should give it a try.

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #29 on: April 22, 2007, 03:57:34 PM »
Shame on 71db for hijacking the Mahler thread...  It's okay if you don't like Mahler's music, but don't down it. This is an appreciation thread. ;)  You know, I also love Elgar, he's one of my favorites, but he and Mahler's music are so very different. But Elgar's music, his symphonies, can be very complex, he has subtle layers that take many listening to reveal themselves.

71db - You need to hear this Mahler 3rd, if you're interested just let me know. This music isn't only awake, but under Abbado I swear it could wake the dead. If you listen to it, and don't like it, hey, that's cool, but you should give it a try.

Sorry Greta, I didn't mean to hijack this thread. Things always escalate because my free thinker opinions are too much for so many.

I have listened today 1st and 9th. The latter was better. I have also listened the first movement of 3rd. Of course I give it a try now that I can!
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mahlertitan

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #30 on: April 22, 2007, 04:19:09 PM »
Sorry Greta, I didn't mean to hijack this thread. Things always escalate because my free thinker opinions are too much for so many.

I have listened today 1st and 9th. The latter was better. I have also listened the first movement of 3rd. Of course I give it a try now that I can!

yeah, the point is, you don't go to a thread to criticize the composer, you come and try to learn something, or share something positive. I don't go to your Elgar thread and belittle him, even though i think he is one of the lesser important composers.

Offline Cato

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2007, 04:40:14 PM »
Concerning "Greta's" comments on the Seventh Symphony:

I recall reading years ago that Mahler acolyte Bruno Walter refused to conduct the Seventh because he thought it was a "weak" symphony.  Perhaps the episodic nature of the Rondo, or the "Nachtmusik" sections put him off. 

The Seventh Symphony is really a fun work which hides its more serious side(s): one thinks of Bruckner's Sixth Symphony as a parallel.
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mahlertitan

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2007, 05:03:44 PM »
Concerning "Greta's" comments on the Seventh Symphony:

I recall reading years ago that Mahler acolyte Bruno Walter refused to conduct the Seventh because he thought it was a "weak" symphony.  Perhaps the episodic nature of the Rondo, or the "Nachtmusik" sections put him off. 

The Seventh Symphony is really a fun work which hides its more serious side(s): one thinks of Bruckner's Sixth Symphony as a parallel.

perhaps it was a "weak" symphony, but i thought the second movement "Naughtmusick I" is simply brilliant. I only listen to the second movement nowadays.

Offline Cato

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2007, 05:17:17 PM »
perhaps it was a "weak" symphony, but i thought the second movement "Naughtmusick I" is simply brilliant. I only listen to the second movement nowadays.

Give the Boulez recording a chance: maybe you will listen to the entire work again.
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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mahlertitan

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2007, 07:08:12 PM »
Give the Boulez recording a chance: maybe you will listen to the entire work again.

on the contrary, i loved the 7th. However, i got tired of listening to mahler's symphonies, so i am going to listen to something else for a while.

recently:
- found a copy of Bizet's unfinished "Roma" symphony, absolutely love it.
- found a copy of Robert Fuchs's first symphony, absolutely adore it.
- start to listen to Wagner's overtures, admire it very much.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2007, 08:21:09 PM »

Things always escalate because my free thinker opinions are too much for so many.

Is there such a thing as counterproductive free thinking?






Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #36 on: April 23, 2007, 12:40:28 AM »
yeah, the point is, you don't go to a thread to criticize the composer, you come and try to learn something, or share something positive. I don't go to your Elgar thread and belittle him, even though i think he is one of the lesser important composers.

A composer of Mahler's status can take a lot of critic without harm. I didn't belittle Mahler. I said I find his music of average complexity among classical composers. Mahler's greatness is obviously in the genius understanding of what masses want to hear. No wonder his music is deeply loved by many. His music has a hooking quality but I'd be lying if I said it's the most sophisticated orchestral music I have heard.

I am learning all the time thanks to your links and help MT!

Is there such a thing as counterproductive free thinking?

Good question! I suppose all things can be counterproductive in evil hands.
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
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Offline Grazioso

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #37 on: April 23, 2007, 02:45:02 AM »
greatness from it and after ~10 years of enjoying his works I can only thank myself for being right. I have heard samples of Mahler's music and while being nice and pleasing music does not indicate anything really great. If Mahler sounded promising to me I would buy his symphonies but there are tons of more promising composers to explore, Dittersdorf being one of them.

I think that's the problem in a nutshell: you've heard samples and proceed to judge from that. It's one thing to hear a sample or a single symphony and decide not to investigate further, another thing entirely to issue statements about the complexity or worth of a composer's work when you've never carefully listened to and studied it. Try listening to all Mahler's major works multiple times and study the scores or read some guides, and then formulate an opinion. You sell yourself and the music short by leaping to judgment.

As someone who's been listening to Mahler for over a decade, I can only say that it's emotionally and intellectually rich music, rife with memorable melodies and marked by the craftsmanship of a master. I'm glad I put the effort into getting to know it.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2007, 02:48:58 AM by Grazioso »
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Haffner

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #38 on: April 23, 2007, 03:25:21 AM »
The wit and wisdom of our resident free-thinker, concerning the third-rate, simplistic composer Gustav Mahler:

Calling Mahler's music complex is weird.

I listened Elgar's Marches last night and I'd say it's 2-3 times more complex music than Mahler #3.

I have heard samples of Mahler's music and while being nice and pleasing music does not indicate anything really great.

There are tons of more promising composers to explore, Dittersdorf being one of them.

Complexity is not only the amount of notes/bar, it's about how much music you have per one note.

It's just easy listening and I get a little bored for it's simplicity and tediousness.



Somebody, anybody, please...bitch-slap this guy.

Sarge




Sarge, I completely sympathize with your pique. But 71 seems like a good person, and I personally have made the same type of knee jerk reactions to certain works as he.



Hell, it was only about 6 months ago that I was having one hell of a time "getting" Beethoven's 3rd. I went on this forum complaining about its lack of melody ( :o ::)), its overall inaccessibility, etc ( ::) ::)). I think I commited a far worse form of knee-jerk error overall.


But all of you kind folks on the board were so patient...I just feel that 71 deserves the same treatment.


Believe me, I know how irritating it can be when a member tends to publicly proclaim his or her seeming dismissiveness. But we are all overall more charitable than this. Let's just point 71 toward the great Mahler recordings, so at least he'll have the oppurtunity to make a more informed opinion.

Haffner

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #39 on: April 23, 2007, 03:30:54 AM »
no, actually, once Ubloobideega travelled back in time to the year 1650 and wrote his 32nd symphony, of which the last movement was an adagio.

do your studying, jit, don't you know ANYTHING!!!!!????  ::)
sheesh......



Greg, I'm hoping you're being lighthearted here, as you overall don't seem to be an unkind person. If D didn't know that (I certainly didn't, and am grateful for your pointing it out!), it's alot easier to kindly correct him. I think all of us (well, practically all) on this particular forum are well past the "enmity-mongering" tendency of most other forums.


Please understand that I respect you and your posts, I mean no condescension whatsoever here.


And thanks again for the history!