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Reviews: Mahler: Symphony No. 6 - Gergiev

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Reviews: 4

Site review by Castor March 28, 2008
Performance:   Sonics:  
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

http://www.HRAudio.net/showmusic.php?title=5126#reviews

Review by sacd_fan_2007 May 2, 2008 (9 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I consider myself quite familiar with Mahler 6 having collected multiple performances on rbcd over the years including Tilson-Thomas/San Fran, Inbal/Frankfurt, Szell/Cleveland, and Boulez, Vienna; the Boulez is still my favorite by far. I was fortunate to hear the work performed live too.

The performance by Gergiev/LSO is among the best I've heard. While I prefer a slower and more devastating march in the first movement, Gergiev's interpretation was very effective, and the Andante Moderato was especially wonderful. The reversed order of the inner symphony movements made musical sense, and Gergiev picks up a grittiness in Mahler's music that is very exciting.

Unfortunately, the extremely poor hall acoustics and audio engineers conspired against this vibrant and spontaneous performance. The sound is quite stuffy, and if my ears could breath, they'd be gasping for air! The audio levels on the SACD-Stereo layer are obscenely low! I could forgive this if there were more dynamic contrast, but there wasn't, so I can't understand why the levels were kept sooo low.

I just listened to a wonderful recording of the even more dissonant Vaughn Williams Symphony 4 performed by the same London Symphony Orchestra in All Saints Church (Chandos). Why couldn't Gergiev and LSO Live book that much better venue???

Buy this disc for the performance if you can tolerate the poor acoustics and low levels. Otherwise, stick to Boulez/Vienna on rbcd or Tilson-Thomas/San Fran on SACD.

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Review by larsmusik May 15, 2009 (9 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Whether you appreciate Gergiev's approach to the Mahler 6 will depend largely upon whether you belong to the Every Measure Is Exciting (e.g., Barenboim) school of thought or to the Structure Matters (e.g., Boulez) school. Not exactly a secret that Gergiev is more attuned to EMIE.

This is a harsh, exciting, sometimes ragged performance. I leave it to others to judge where it belongs in the now sizable list of recorded Mahler 6's. I think it's a keeper, even if there are other recordings you will ultimately return to more often.

What really distresses me, however, is the recording quality. The sound is acrid, unbalanced, and occasionally distorted. Even for the famously dry acoustic of the Barbican, it is off-putting. I just compared the sound of the LSO on this recording to the sound that was captured two years earlier for Colin Davis's "Ma Vlast" cycle. Same hall, same producer and essentially the same recording team. How to account for the shocking difference? Whereas the orchestra's sound for the Smetana is full, vibrant, well balanced, and colorful, the Gergiev Mahler sounds hollow and nasty. Is this a case of the producer deciding to match Gergiev's performance aesthetic with its aural equivalent? Or was it just a bad night (series of nights, apparently) for the engineers?

Very, very difficult to recommend this in terms of the recorded sound.

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Review by Luukas March 20, 2015 (0 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I totally agree with below review:

Penguin Guide (2010): "Gergiev's approach to Mahler's Sixth is bold and dramatic and his performance has a total conviction not always apparent in his controversial cycle... He goes for an almost brutish energy in this dark symphony of Mahler, and the results are compelling." (Three (***) stars)

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