Author Topic: Mahler symphonies - help  (Read 65385 times)

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Offline nigeld

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Mahler symphonies - help
« on: April 23, 2007, 04:39:35 AM »
I'm new to these.

Have recently purchased No.1 by Zinman and the Zurich Tonhalle and really enjoyed it.

I've now just put an order in for Rattle and the BPO in No.5 and was wondering where I should go next.  Anyone interested in suggesting my next three purchases would get my grateful thanks.

Other things being equal I would prefer more recent recordings from a sound quality point of view.

thanks
Soli Deo Gloria

Harry

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2007, 04:47:22 AM »
You would do well, by thinking of Karaja/Abbado/Neumann/Bertini/Tennstedt/Boulez. Point is there is so much choice, that I think its hard to pinpoint something you would like. Trial and error is the best way. But you can hardly go wrong with the names I noted. There is many more, as other posters will tell you, but that makes the choice only harder my friend.
My favourites are Tennstedt and Abbado, but most of all Karajan, in the 9th, and 4 & 5.

Offline david johnson

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2007, 04:53:42 AM »
go for #2 and #4 next.

dj

Offline alkan

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2007, 05:54:55 AM »
I would suggest that your next 3 Mahler symphonies should be #6, #2 and #7, in that order.
Mahler's 6th is an experience that no-one should miss ..... if you are in the right mood it can be quite overwhelming.

I don't feel well qualified to recommend particular recordings, since my versions are quite old except
for #6 which is Boulez.       Here the sound is magnificent, but I'm looking for a more passionate version
and I will probably get the Bernstein, VPO (DG) one when I have the budget.     

If (unlike me) you like Mahler's vocal/choral music, you might be more interested in #4 and #8.
The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.
Harlan Ellison (1934 - )

Harry

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2007, 06:02:53 AM »
From all the symphonies of Mahler, the 8th was never in my player, allthough I have two versions of it already.
I dare not do it. I think I am afraid that the boys and girls will scream my head off! :o
And no, apart from the silly text, the 4th was never a problem.

Steve

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2007, 07:16:24 AM »
I would look into the 3rd symphony next. It was the second, after Titan, of the Mahler symphonies that I came across, and I enjoyed it immensely. Of course, I agree with others that 2 and 6 are also great starting points. I would generally save 7, 8, 9, and 5 for later. As for the 3rd, you could go for any of the aforementioned conductors (Abbado, Bernstein, Karajan (live with the BPO), Abbado, and the like, but I personally would reccomend Eliahu Inbal and the Franfurt Radio Orchestra. It was my introduction to the piece, and I reccomend it easily.




Offline knight66

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2007, 07:28:09 AM »
Just as well there are only 10 to choose from, the poor guy's head must be spinning.

Mike
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I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline MishaK

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2007, 07:55:24 AM »
Actually, I would suggest that before you continue with further symphonies, you get all his song cycles; Wunderhorn, Rückert Lieder, Wayfarer, Kindertotenlieder. These in many ways contain the essential building blocks of his symphonies. Mahler's idiom will make a lot more sense once you have become familiar with his songs.

Offline knight66

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2007, 07:59:03 AM »
Yes, I think that is a good point. He got very interested in folk songs and used them to form the basis of some of his art-songs, which in turn were fed into some of the symphonies, especially numbers two and four. Despite his extreme sophistication, he was keen to inject earthiness, simplicity and a rustic quality into his composition.

Mike
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I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Steve

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2007, 08:12:19 AM »
Yes, I think that is a good point. He got very interested in folk songs and used them to form the basis of some of his art-songs, which in turn were fed into some of the symphonies, especially numbers two and four. Despite his extreme sophistication, he was keen to inject earthiness, simplicity and a rustic quality into his composition.

Mike

While that might make the process of deconstructing Mahler easier, I found by immersing myself in the symphonies, I had to listen to them over and over until I could really begin to appreciate them. That sort of discovery period, opened Mahler up to me, and made the rest of his works accessible. I say, try the symphonies, and be willing to listen to a movement a few times before moving on. I spent several months on Mahler's early symphonies, and that was a period of contiunous growth and discovery. I would try the 3rd next.

PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2007, 08:20:11 AM »
Actually, I would suggest that before you continue with further symphonies, you get all his song cycles; Wunderhorn, Rückert Lieder, Wayfarer, Kindertotenlieder. These in many ways contain the essential building blocks of his symphonies. Mahler's idiom will make a lot more sense once you have become familiar with his songs.

For some reason other than Das Lied I don't find any of Mahler's song cycles particularly engaging.

mahlertitan

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2007, 08:31:03 AM »
For some reason other than Das Lied I don't find any of Mahler's song cycles particularly engaging.

same here.

Offline Thom

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2007, 08:37:40 AM »
If sound quality is what you value, then you couldn't go much wrong with the cycle of Ricardo Chailly and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Fenomenal sound and I personally like his reading as well.

X

Offline Grazioso

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2007, 08:51:17 AM »
If sound quality is what you value, then you couldn't go much wrong with the cycle of Ricardo Chailly and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Fenomenal sound and I personally like his reading as well.

X

Ditto for the Solti set. You can hear every detail with ease. There are so many great Mahler recordings--every conductor and his brother have recorded a complete set at this point.
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

mahlertitan

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2007, 08:57:01 AM »
i also like the Solti collection, very well played.

Steve

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2007, 09:15:22 AM »
i also like the Solti collection, very well played.

Really? I find Solti completely wrong for Mahler's Symphonies. He seems hurried and distant on these. I've always prefered the warm empathy of Bernstein to Solt. The saving grace for this recording really is, as usual, the brilliant playing of the CSO. But, I find these recordings fail to match the likes of Hatink of Berstein.

Steve

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2007, 09:17:09 AM »
You would do well, by thinking of Karaja/Abbado/Neumann/Bertini/Tennstedt/Boulez. Point is there is so much choice, that I think its hard to pinpoint something you would like. Trial and error is the best way. But you can hardly go wrong with the names I noted. There is many more, as other posters will tell you, but that makes the choice only harder my friend.
My favourites are Tennstedt and Abbado, but most of all Karajan, in the 9th, and 4 & 5.

You've reccommended Boulez, and its dawned on me that I have yet to hear his renditions of this symphony cycle. Any specifics?

Offline knight66

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2007, 09:59:32 AM »
I do think that the Solti 8th takes some beating. All on one disc, and reissued at mid price. Sinopoli's is a good contrast and can often also be found as a bargain and Wit on Naxos, two discs, excellent. All are in first rate sound.

Mike
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I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline MishaK

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2007, 10:36:10 AM »
Ditto for the Solti set. You can hear every detail with ease. There are so many great Mahler recordings--every conductor and his brother have recorded a complete set at this point.

Not really. The analog recordings in that cycle (5, 6, 7, 8 & 9) suffer from a constricted spectrum and don't have the full dynamic range of the later recordings and are generally too bright. The 5th has a few moments where the sonic power of the CSO exceeds what the equipment can handle. The digital recordings in that cycle (1, 2, 3 & 4)  are unfortunately typical, glassy early digital Decca recordings that again are too glassy and bright. That being said, Solti has of course one of the finest 2nds, 3rds, 6ths and 8ths on record. But if you want a consistently excellent Mahler cycle, I would get Kubelik or Chailly. I think those two are at present the best value for a complete set. If you want to mix and match, I would get the following, if I had to restrict myself to one recording of each symphony:

1: Kubelik/BRSO/DG - completely natural and fully at home in the odd folkloristic juxtapositions of this symphony. The BRSO's playing is superlative.

2. Haitink/RCO/Philips - still to me the finest recorded performance, though Solti and Kubelik are not far behind. Every detail shines through with Haitink and makes sense in the context of the whole.

3. Haitink/CSO/CSO Resound - this is not out yet, The CSO is issuing it next month! I heard the live performance where this was recorded and it was one for the ages. Some of the finest playing I have ever heard from the orchestra and Haitink knew exactly where he was going with the piece. Also, the performance had the kind of spontaneity often missing from Haitink's studio recordings. If the engineering is half as good as the performance was, this will be the recording to have.

4. Kletzki/Philharmonia/EMI - Kletzki somehow manages to find the fine balance between the bucolic and the parodistic in this symphony much better than anyone else. This performance of the 4th evolves so naturally it seems as if nobody ever needed to rehearse it at all.

5. Chailly/RCO/Decca - probably the best performance in spacious modern sound. The sonics of this recording must be heard to be believed. The Concertgebouw in its full glory. Solo horn Jakob Slagter and solo trumpet Peter Masseurs do superlative work here.

6. Solti/CSO/Decca - the raw energy and intensity of this performance is yet to be surpassed. Yet, Solti finds the time to smell the flowers in the slow movement and CSO principal horn Dale Clevenger delivers a solo of such refinement that you just want to melt away.

7. Barenboim/Staatskapelle Berlin/Warner - the 7th seems to be one of the toughest Mahler symphonies to bring off. It often devolves into seemingly unrelated melodic episodes or into an aloof, proto-modernist musical exercise. Barenboim here manages to bridge the gap and create a flowing, living, breathing performance. He is aided in no small part by the magnificent palette of colors of the Staatskapelle Berlin.

8. Chailly/RCO - all the tautness of Solti's performance, but with far better sound, more attention to detail and a warmer, richer palette of colors. Among recordings in modern sound in a class of its own. Again, the Concertgebouw unleashes its unparalelled Mahler heritage and experience.

9. Barenboim/Staatskapelle Berlin - what I said about his 7th you could repeat here. Just a fantastic performance with a rich, dark sound very much appropriate for the mood of this work.

Harry

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Re: Mahler symphonies - help
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2007, 10:39:16 AM »
You've reccommended Boulez, and its dawned on me that I have yet to hear his renditions of this symphony cycle. Any specifics?

Only this, that he is a very deliberate and lucid conductor, that lets his orchestra play with a minimum of feeling, and a maximum of clarity. In some sense I admire it.