Mahler Mania, Rebooted

Started by Greta, May 01, 2007, 08:06:38 PM

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Brian

Quote from: Jo498 on December 12, 2022, 11:31:08 PMKubelik is very "natural", IIRC. Main drawback today probably average ca. 1970 sound. For a very different take of the 7th and wild ride, try Kondrashin (totally hysterical Russian brass in the finale). There are one or two live recordings that are supposedly superior (or less extreme?) than the Melodiya but I only know the last one.
I've heard the Kondrashin Concertgebouw live recording is absolutely crazy and very extreme, on Tahra.

Quote from: relm1 on December 13, 2022, 05:28:41 AMI love his Symphony No. 5 which is with LA Philharmonic.
This is as close as I've gotten to understanding the Fifth, which seems to be a disconnected suite of different ideas to me. But the Mehta/LA recording makes all five individual parts sound really great.

Brian

Quote from: SurprisedByBeauty on December 13, 2022, 02:05:53 AMThere's the Mahler Survey, of course...


https://ionarts.blogspot.com/2013/08/gustav-mahler-symphony-no7-part-1.html




https://ionarts.blogspot.com/2013/08/gustav-mahler-symphony-no7-part-2.html


One thing I appreciate about your survey is that you collate not just your own wisdom and experience, but that of others. Next time, I'll listen out for the passages that Salonen complained were painfully banal.

relm1

#5202
Quote from: Brian on December 13, 2022, 06:01:23 AMI've heard the Kondrashin Concertgebouw live recording is absolutely crazy and very extreme, on Tahra.
This is as close as I've gotten to understanding the Fifth, which seems to be a disconnected suite of different ideas to me. But the Mehta/LA recording makes all five individual parts sound really great.

I appreciate why you could think that about No. 5 but suggest you approach it differently.  It's a work in three movements (or sections):

First is the funeral (the first three movements) lasting around 45 minutes though the third movement is more playful. 
Last movement is the triumphant about 15 minutes.
And the fourth movement is the somewhat oddball Adagietto around 11 minutes

The last movement is a rondo that brings back all previous ideas but transforms them into a boisterous finale, much like Beethoven would do.  This is an example of connective tissue but ideas and how I would argue, not a suite, but a traditional Beethoven symphony but through the eyes/ears of Mahler.  Something so important with Mahler is how he delves into the subtext - not just about a folk song or klezmer music but what that meant for him personally.  Have you seen the 1971 movie, Fiddler on the Roof?  I saw that for the first time only a few months ago.  But to me, that is the key to Mahler.  First, you have a guy constantly singing "Tradition!!!!!!!" but as the story progresses, the motif takes on very, very different meanings.  Sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes philosophical, etc.  He's unsure what it even means.  Is it even worth anything?  What if we keep fully the tradition and lose everything?  This is Mahler's 5.  So, you might hear this as a mishmash of joy, despair, hope, hate, sadness, love, whatever, but there is a throughline. 

With Mahler, that's the "fate" motif that starts this symphony.  This darkness is heard throughout but takes on different meanings as the work progresses.  If you listen to this on the surface, you'll hear random musical elements, but the point is the narrative that connects them throughout. 

Brian

Thank you for that post. I really will have it open and re-read before listening to the Fifth again.

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I know I said I would listen to Barenboim or Kubelik next, but could not resist trying this on streaming:



Very glad I gave it a try. Obviously this is only my second listen to the work so you should not trust me as an expert, but goodness, what an incredible orchestral performance. The divided violins' parts in the scherzo whiplash from left to right channel with amazing speed. The strings lean hard into glissandi. The woodwinds have tons of character, especially the snappy, savage bassoons. Bloch has his players commit everything to every moment: no holding back, no being tasteful, no saving energy for the next movement. Pizzicato strings feel like you're being hit by darts.

It reminds me of Jens' quote of Bruno Walter as saying that conductors should be unafraid to be vulgar in Mahler. This is an incredibly vulgar, "loud" (in the metaphorical sense) performance, full of detail and color and absurdity. The scherzo is mind-boggling. The mandolin is not spotlit at all in Nachtmusik II, which I appreciate. (In general, the sound is incredible, offering a clear orchestral picture while allowing every single instrument to shine independently. It is the kind of recorded sound [not artistic sound!] I associate with late Boulez DG stuff.) My only critique on the madcap finale, which is very silly and clearly enunciated at all times, is that the "Turkish" stuff is not sufficiently Turkish.

What a sumptuous treat. The first movement of the symphony still leaves me a little tired, and I can hear some of the banality Salonen hears in the second. But man...I think I love this!

Rough timings of the Bloch reading 21 / 15 / 10 / 11 / 17 = 74.

Florestan

Quote from: Brian on January 17, 2023, 10:59:29 AMThank you for that post. I really will have it open and re-read before listening to the Fifth again.

-

I know I said I would listen to Barenboim or Kubelik next, but could not resist trying this on streaming:



Very glad I gave it a try. Obviously this is only my second listen to the work so you should not trust me as an expert, but goodness, what an incredible orchestral performance. The divided violins' parts in the scherzo whiplash from left to right channel with amazing speed. The strings lean hard into glissandi. The woodwinds have tons of character, especially the snappy, savage bassoons. Bloch has his players commit everything to every moment: no holding back, no being tasteful, no saving energy for the next movement. Pizzicato strings feel like you're being hit by darts.

It reminds me of Jens' quote of Bruno Walter as saying that conductors should be unafraid to be vulgar in Mahler. This is an incredibly vulgar, "loud" (in the metaphorical sense) performance, full of detail and color and absurdity. The scherzo is mind-boggling. The mandolin is not spotlit at all in Nachtmusik II, which I appreciate. (In general, the sound is incredible, offering a clear orchestral picture while allowing every single instrument to shine independently. It is the kind of recorded sound [not artistic sound!] I associate with late Boulez DG stuff.) My only critique on the madcap finale, which is very silly and clearly enunciated at all times, is that the "Turkish" stuff is not sufficiently Turkish.

What a sumptuous treat. The first movement of the symphony still leaves me a little tired, and I can hear some of the banality Salonen hears in the second. But man...I think I love this!

Rough timings of the Bloch reading 21 / 15 / 10 / 11 / 17 = 74.

Great review, Brian! I will certainly give it a try.
"Art is no excuse for boring people." - Jules Renard

"Melody is the essence of music." - Mozart

vandermolen

My brother's going to hear the 5th Symphony in London (tomorrow night I think).
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

LKB

I can't think of any concert experience that surpasses Mahler done well. Hopefully, your brother will have such an experience.  8)
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Mahlerbruck

One of my favourite early Mahler conductors is Hans Rosbaud.

A few year's ago this in my opinion great Boxset was released.




If you're not already familiar with his Mahler performances, I would strongly recommend you check them out.
A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything. (Gustav Mahler)

relm1

#5208
One thing I've been struggling with, I've read the book "Mahler's letters to his wife". and it paints a different picture of Mahler than the narrative of him being terribly morose and manic.  I think there is a false narrative that he was a manic, negative, depressed man.  Part of me believes his persona was based on Alma's exploitation on the Mahler myth.  Much of his letters including the last ones were very mundane.  Talk about getting paid for a gig, frustrations over a bad review, lots of performance notes (wrong notes, etc), tons of adulations for Alma (from August 1910, "Fairest, dearest one, my lyre...you wonderous thing, what music could I write whose words conveyed to you my mortal plight?"  There is practically no existential dread.  This is very important because he had already completed Das Lied von der Erde and Symphony No. 9 and was working on his final Symphony No. 10.  The reason why this narrative is so important is because he was in a horrible state of mind.  We have his letters to Alma to prove this.  He was gloving with adoration in his final moments.  He was not morose.  He was had no existential dread.  He had eternal love and admiration and his final letters and music prove that.  That's why I strongly believe Symphony No. 10 must be heard in its entirety.  It should be considered canon.

Herman

Quote from: relm1 on January 26, 2023, 04:37:59 PMThe reason why this narrative is so important is because he was in a horrible state of mind.  We have his letters to Alma to prove this.  He was glowing with adoration in his final moments.  He was not morose.  He was had no existential dread.  He had eternal love and admiration and his final letters and music prove that.

People can be of two minds at the same time.
Also, his glowing adoration for Alma in his letters may be a way to soothe or conquer his fear of her unfaithfulness, a fear which in Mahler's case may at times have had existential dimensions.

Madiel

Yeah. I think that Mahler is one of those composers where people have fallen into the trap of wanting to relate everything in the music to personal circumstances.

It's part of a belief system where music is portrayed as being about baring the artist's soul. Which I'm sure music CAN do, but thinking of it in that way ignores all the craft involved, and the fact that composing something can actually take a long period of time during which circumstances change.
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

brewski

Quote from: Mahlerbruck on January 26, 2023, 05:34:54 AMOne of my favourite early Mahler conductors is Hans Rosbaud.

A few year's ago this in my opinion great Boxset was released.




If you're not already familiar with his Mahler performances, I would strongly recommend you check them out.

I meant to thank you when you posted this. Wasn't aware of his Mahler, and I like the handful of other things, I've heard from him.

-Bruce
"I set down a beautiful chord on paper—and suddenly it rusts."
—Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998)