Author Topic: Mahler Mania, Rebooted  (Read 546524 times)

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Offline Madiel

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4740 on: June 28, 2020, 03:22:23 PM »
I don't see how any of this contradicts what I said. Shostakovich was a fine composer, and of course his music also responded to Mahler's. As I've said before on this site, I think the Shostakovich Fourth Symphony is one of the best musical responses to Mahler's Sixth, along with Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra. Nor do I think of Shostakovich as a "random offshoot" of 20th century music. He too was clearly influenced by Schoenberg, Berg, and Stravinsky (and Hindemith).

You described Shostakovich as peripheral.

Sorry, but conversations with you regularly devolve into you rejecting every attempt to understand what you're saying as inadequate. I shan't bother playing along on this occasion, because it really isn't worth the energy. I will inevitably get it 'wrong' as I apparently already have. Because you say all this after saying Shostakovich was peripheral... I'm not chasing the ball.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2020, 03:24:19 PM by Madiel »
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4741 on: June 28, 2020, 10:37:15 PM »
Mahlerian took up "peripheral" from a quote. "paralleling a reassessment of the history of twentieth-century music in which Shostakovich
would emerge as central and Schoenberg as peripheral." This quote is IMO an obvious exaggeration. It seems clearly true to me that until the late 20th century Shostakovich had been in fact considered peripheral and Schoenberg central. This was not only rooted in the "modernists" dominance in musicology as among critics and musicians not totally on board with the modernist view Shostakovich was often also considered peripheral, or simply ignored, sometimes for political reasons. (Counting recordings and performances in the West, I am pretty certain that Prokofiev easily beats DSCH until the early 1980s or even early 90s) Boulez was no champion of DSCH but neither was Karl Boehm. While there has been a huge rise in popularity of Shostakovich in the last decades and he is no longer seen as peripheral, I very much doubt that the inversion Botstein claims has generally taken place in musical history and musicology, it does seem a minority opinion. Central does not just mean that someone wrote some important music (this seems hardly denied, so in that respect there was a revaluation of Shostakovich) but also that this music was extremely influential for the further development of musical history etc. It would be interesting how Botstein would back up such a claim wrt to the relative positions of Schoenberg and DSCH. So Botstein has a very bold thesis here whereas Mahlerian is basically sticking to the communis opinio of Western musicology (and many Western musicians) that prevailed until very recently.
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Offline Total Rafa

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4742 on: June 29, 2020, 05:50:02 AM »
As many people here probably know, I'm one of those people who sees Schoenberg as central and Shostakovich as peripheral to 20th century music.

[...]

I understand that many others feel the opposite, that the important thing about Mahler is his Romantic side, and the Modern aspects are either secondary or, perhaps, not connected to the Second Viennese School in any significant way. This is why I often see people say X composer is "like Mahler" and am baffled, because they are discussing music from a completely different perspective that locates Mahler's identity in other aspects of the music. For me, seeing Mahler allied with anti-modernism is baffling.

Which aspects do people here see as important?

Well I think that the 'modern' aspects of Mahler's music are quite important in assessing his significance and influence.

Having said that, I find the supposed link between Mahler's music and the Second Viennese School to be highly flattering to the latter group of composers. Similar in a way to the 'Brahms the progressive' thesis. Composers like Schoenberg felt like they had to keep on making the point that they were continuing some sort of tradition, as if to attach greater importance to their own music. For me, Mahler's mastery of form, expression, orchestration, aesthetic, structure, etc. is on a completely higher level, irrespective of whether his 'successors' were writing tonal or 12-tone music.

I hadn't previously read much on the influence of the Second Viennese School on Shostakovich, something which doesn't strike me as particularly obvious. Any attempt to cast Shostakovich aside to any kind of 'periphery' presumably is largely down to his persistence with a tonal language deep into the 20th century, something which clearly wouldn't sit with Boulez and other 'modernists'.

The lasting appeal and greatness of Shostakovich's music transcends any and all trivial debate.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 05:52:19 AM by Total Rafa »

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4743 on: June 29, 2020, 06:36:22 AM »
Well I think that the 'modern' aspects of Mahler's music are quite important in assessing his significance and influence.

Having said that, I find the supposed link between Mahler's music and the Second Viennese School to be highly flattering to the latter group of composers. Similar in a way to the 'Brahms the progressive' thesis. Composers like Schoenberg felt like they had to keep on making the point that they were continuing some sort of tradition, as if to attach greater importance to their own music. For me, Mahler's mastery of form, expression, orchestration, aesthetic, structure, etc. is on a completely higher level, irrespective of whether his 'successors' were writing tonal or 12-tone music.

The link is not at all incidental; the Second Viennese School were heavily linked to Mahler in technique and expression, and they were the only ones who actually appreciated Mahler's music at a time when the wider musical world thought of him as either an incomprehensible noisemaker or a creator of overblown bombastic monstrosities (to list only the views that didn't openly express anti-Semitism).

Schoenberg's Society for Private Musical Performances programmed Mahler often, and he was likewise to be a part of the famous Skandalkonzert of 1913 if Berg's songs hadn't been interrupted by rioting. Webern conducted a performance of Mahler's Sixth in the 1930s that was supposedly quite revelatory, and Schoenberg conducted the slow movement from the Second in a performance that survives in recording.

On top of that, one can point to all kinds of reflections of Mahler in the use of particular timbres in the Second Viennese School, from the guitar and mandolin in Webern's Five Pieces Op. 10 or Schoenberg's Serenade to the hammerblows of Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra, aside from the general soloistic character mentioned above, which contemporary critics linked to Mahler even while he was still alive. Mahler himself was good friends with Schoenberg (although they clashed often, as one might expect from two such egos), and purchased a whole bunch of his paintings anonymously simply to support his struggling friend.

Naturally, the music of any composer is not important because of its links to earlier important music, and none of this music would have had the staying power it has if it weren't successful on its own merits.

I hadn't previously read much on the influence of the Second Viennese School on Shostakovich, something which doesn't strike me as particularly obvious. Any attempt to cast Shostakovich aside to any kind of 'periphery' presumably is largely down to his persistence with a tonal language deep into the 20th century, something which clearly wouldn't sit with Boulez and other 'modernists'.

I don't consider Shostakovich's music any more tonal than the later Schoenberg. While he uses a lot of triads and diatonic elements, his music doesn't employ functional harmony except for occasional effect (which one can say of the later Schoenberg just as easily).

Anyway, Shostakovich admired Berg his whole life and said so frequently, despite the official Soviet line that disparaged the 12-tone method as bourgeois formalism. One of his early commentaries has him listing Schoenberg as well amid his foremost influences:

Quote from: Wiki
Articles Shostakovich published in 1934 and 1935 cited Berg, Schoenberg, Krenek, Hindemith, "and especially Stravinsky" among his influences.

The lasting appeal and greatness of Shostakovich's music transcends any and all trivial debate.

I wasn't attempting to disparage Shostakovich. I was simply saying that he's not central to my personal view of the 20th century. Some of his music is quite good.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4744 on: July 06, 2020, 12:27:59 PM »
Happy birthday Gustav!
(Also happens to be mine!)  :)

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4745 on: July 06, 2020, 02:35:47 PM »
Happy birthday Gustav!
(Also happens to be mine!)  :)

Happy birthday. It's nice sharing your birthday with a great master—I share mine with Bob Dylan, which I always thought was pretty cool  ;D

I'm going to listen to a Mahler symphony in the morning, haven't decided which... likely 6, 8 or 9.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4746 on: July 06, 2020, 06:23:58 PM »
Ah yes, it’s Mahler’s birthday tomorrow. I guess I should listen to something, too. ;) I’ll probably listen to the 3rd and then one of his song cycles. After this, I think I’ll listen to his 7th since I’ve been meaning to swing back around to this symphony for quite some time.
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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4747 on: July 21, 2020, 01:58:21 AM »
I have a question about Barbirolli's 9th. I have an old CD from French EMI:



I think the sound leaves a bit to be desired. Is there any remaster on either the GRoC or the more recent Warner reissues of this that would justify the upgrade?

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4748 on: July 22, 2020, 10:17:31 AM »
I think the sound leaves a bit to be desired. Is there any remaster on either the GRoC or the more recent Warner reissues of this that would justify the upgrade?

I had the old CD, and then the GRoC. To my ears the GRoC was an improvement (a greater sense of ambience and presence). A subtle difference, but it adds up as you listen and I think it's worth replacing.

Haven't heard the Warner.

BTW here's a review that backs me up:

"While the original CD incarnation of the Barbirolli (on EMI 63115) was good this one is smoother, richer, fuller and does not tire the ear. More important, I can now hear and appreciate individual instruments as the parts relate to the whole. This is true of so many places that specific references mean little, but I found myself saying "yes" as I heard them."

http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/e/emi67926a.php
« Last Edit: July 22, 2020, 10:20:59 AM by Archaic Torso of Apollo »
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Offline Scion7

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4749 on: October 12, 2020, 02:52:20 AM »
re: Titan (tone poem)

Stated to be inspired by Jean Paul's (Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, d. 1825) multi-volume novel of the same name.
The novel is Bible-length.  I cannot read German, so must rely on English translations . . .

Quote
The old man spoke, behind the speech-grating of sleep, with dead ones who had journeyed with him over the morning meadows of youth, and addressed with heavy lip the dead Prince and his spouse. How sublimely did the curtain of the venerable countenance, pictured over with a long life, hang down before the pastoral world of youth dancing behind it, and how touchingly did the gray form roam round with its youthful crown in the cold evening dew of life, taking it for morning-dew, and looking toward the east, and toward the sun! The youth ventured only to touch lovingly a lock of the old man; he meant to leave him, in order not to alarm him with a strange form, before the rising moon should have touched his eyelids and awakened him. Only he would first crown the teacher of his loved one with the twigs of a neighboring laurel. When he came back from it, the moon had already penetrated with her radiance through the great eyelids, and the old man opened them before the exalted youth, who, with the glowing rosy moon of his countenance, glorified by the moon overhead, stood before him like a genius with the crown. "Justus!" cried the old man, "is it thou?" He took him for the old Prince, who, with just such blooming cheeks and open eyes, had passed before him in the under-world of dreams.

But he soon came back out of the dreamy Elysium into the botanical, and knew even Albano's name. The Count, with open mien, grasped his hands, and said to him how long and profoundly he had respected him. Spener answered in few and quiet words, as old men do who have seen everything on the earth so often. The glory of the moonlight flowed down now on the tall form, and the quietly open eye was illumined,—an eye which not so much penetrates as lets everything penetrate it. The almost cold stillness of the features, the youthful gait of the tall form, which bore its years upright as a crown upon the head, not as a burden upon the back, more as flowers than as fruit, the singular mixture of former manly ardor and of womanly tenderness,—all this called up before Albano the image of a prophet of the Eastern land. That broad stream which came roaring down through the alps of youth, glides now calmly and smoothly through its pastures; but throw rocks before it, and again it starts up roaring.

. . . this hits me as more in mood to Der Abschied than anything else.
Paul is regarded as one of Germany's best writers.  Has anyone here dug into this book - what is your verdict?  It would be a long endeavor to read it all. Is it satisfying?
« Last Edit: October 12, 2020, 02:55:40 AM by Scion7 »
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Offline Biffo

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4750 on: October 12, 2020, 03:09:36 AM »
re: Titan (tone poem)

Stated to be inspired by Jean Paul's (Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, d. 1825) multi-volume novel of the same name.
The novel is Bible-length.  I cannot read German, so must rely on English translations . . .

. . . this hits me as more in mood to Der Abschied than anything else.
Paul is regarded as one of Germany's best writers.  Has anyone here dug into this book - what is your verdict?  It would be a long endeavor to read it all. Is it satisfying?

I haven't read the novel but I have read Reading Mahler: German Culture and Jewish Identity in Fin-de-Siecle Vienna by Carl Niekerk. Niekerk discusses Jean-Paul and Titan at some length, including a synopsis. He also discusses E.T.A Hoffmann, the other author who influenced Mahler in his symphonic poem. Despite the obvious literary references to Jean Paul, Mahler later denied any link to Titan the novel but then he scrapped all the literary paraphenalia, including the title, when the revised the work.

The novel seems too daunting for me to even attempt.

Offline Maestro267

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4751 on: December 04, 2020, 06:17:24 AM »
I wonder if the sixth movement of Symphony No. 3 would have ended the way it does if Mahler had decided to keep the seventh movement which became the Fourth Symphony's finale? Also, if Heavenly Life was kept in the Third Symphony, would Mahler simply have had the contralto who appears in mvts. 4 and 5 sing it instead of the soprano who sings it in the 4th Symphony.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4752 on: December 04, 2020, 10:51:33 AM »
I wonder if the sixth movement of Symphony No. 3 would have ended the way it does if Mahler had decided to keep the seventh movement which became the Fourth Symphony's finale? Also, if Heavenly Life was kept in the Third Symphony, would Mahler simply have had the contralto who appears in mvts. 4 and 5 sing it instead of the soprano who sings it in the 4th Symphony.

I’m not sure, but what Mahler decided to do ended up making the 3rd a masterpiece, IMHO. Glad his clear thinking prevailed!
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Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4753 on: March 03, 2021, 09:25:27 PM »
I've just been listening to the Sixth, Barbirolli with the New Philharmonia. I first listened to the Sixth in that recording in the late 70s when I was a teenager (of course I've listen to it and other recordings in the interim!). When I first listened to it the finale seemed to last forever, now when I listen to it it seems as brisk and quite-the-right-length as a Haydn finale!

Offline relm1

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4754 on: March 04, 2021, 06:51:49 AM »
I enjoyed listening to Vanska's new M10.  Very clear and precise audio and playing, somewhat lacking in the Bernsteinian sweep I was hoping for but solid overall.  I was thinking while listening, performing a great Mahler symphony must take so much care and rehearsal.  Almost like each phrase needing to be sculpted, not just read correctly. 

Offline MusicTurner

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4755 on: March 04, 2021, 10:32:18 AM »
I enjoyed listening to Vanska's new M10.  Very clear and precise audio and playing, somewhat lacking in the Bernsteinian sweep I was hoping for but solid overall.  I was thinking while listening, performing a great Mahler symphony must take so much care and rehearsal. Almost like each phrase needing to be sculpted, not just read correctly.

Supposedly conductors vary in their approach, but Barbirolli said that it took him one year to prepare for a good Mahler symphony performance.

BTW I have a few of Barbirolli Mahler recordings, but haven't yet checked, if several performances by him exist of the same work; if so, it would be interesting if there were marked differences between them, like for instance between his early and later recordings generally, say in Sibelius' 2nd ... And it would somehow erode his claim, if he didn't reach a conclusive idea about the work anyway ...

EDIT: there's at least a Mahler 6th also with the BPO, besides the more well-known New Philharmonia one, but I haven't heard it. The biggest differences would probably be between early and late Barbirolli. There are very likely further examples. BBC Legends a good place to look, I guess.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2021, 10:57:13 AM by MusicTurner »

Offline André

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4756 on: March 04, 2021, 02:03:39 PM »
The EMI M6 should have the middle movements in the order Barbirolli wanted (Andante-Scherzo) but for whatever reason it was issued the other way around. Other live performances of the work by Barbirolli, including the Berlin one, have the Andante first. Besides that, I can’t say the Berlin performance scores over the studio one in any way, certainly not in quality of playing or sound. Barbirolli’s Mahler is an acquired taste for some, indispensable for others.

Offline MusicTurner

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4757 on: March 04, 2021, 02:45:29 PM »
The EMI M6 should have the middle movements in the order Barbirolli wanted (Andante-Scherzo) but for whatever reason it was issued the other way around. Other live performances of the work by Barbirolli, including the Berlin one, have the Andante first. Besides that, I can’t say the Berlin performance scores over the studio one in any way, certainly not in quality of playing or sound. Barbirolli’s Mahler is an acquired taste for some, indispensable for others.

OK, thank you for the information. For me, he often tends to be too slow in Mahler, but I've kept the stuff anyway, also for a possible, revised opinion (1,5,6,9 and some song cycles).

Offline relm1

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4758 on: March 04, 2021, 05:15:49 PM »
Supposedly conductors vary in their approach, but Barbirolli said that it took him one year to prepare for a good Mahler symphony performance.

BTW I have a few of Barbirolli Mahler recordings, but haven't yet checked, if several performances by him exist of the same work; if so, it would be interesting if there were marked differences between them, like for instance between his early and later recordings generally, say in Sibelius' 2nd ... And it would somehow erode his claim, if he didn't reach a conclusive idea about the work anyway ...

EDIT: there's at least a Mahler 6th also with the BPO, besides the more well-known New Philharmonia one, but I haven't heard it. The biggest differences would probably be between early and late Barbirolli. There are very likely further examples. BBC Legends a good place to look, I guess.

But that's the conductor needing a year.  Not the same as rehearsal time.  For example, Dudamel did the 9 symphonies in a month with the LA Philharmonic.  He might have spent a year or 10 years before but they didn't have that time to rehearse!  Of the concerts I attended, they were masterful so it wasn't just a rush job either.

Offline Biffo

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4759 on: March 05, 2021, 01:29:44 AM »
Supposedly conductors vary in their approach, but Barbirolli said that it took him one year to prepare for a good Mahler symphony performance.

BTW I have a few of Barbirolli Mahler recordings, but haven't yet checked, if several performances by him exist of the same work; if so, it would be interesting if there were marked differences between them, like for instance between his early and later recordings generally, say in Sibelius' 2nd ... And it would somehow erode his claim, if he didn't reach a conclusive idea about the work anyway ...

EDIT: there's at least a Mahler 6th also with the BPO, besides the more well-known New Philharmonia one, but I haven't heard it. The biggest differences would probably be between early and late Barbirolli. There are very likely further examples. BBC Legends a good place to look, I guess.

There are three Barbirolli recordings of Mahler 6 available. The EMI studio recording, originally issued with Scherzo-Andante against Barbirolli's wishes: I have it in a two-disc format making it difficult to play in the correct order. There are two live performances, both on Testament, with the Berlin Philharmonic (1966) and the New Philharmonia (1967).  Both are brisker than the studio performance which I find preferable and there is nothing to choose between them except the NPO recording is in stereo.