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Discussion: Mahler: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 10 (Adagio) - Gergiev

Posts: 20
Page: 1 2 next

Post by rosenkavalier817 January 22, 2009 (1 of 20)
I have to say, I was pretty disappointed with this recording. After reading the review here and on Amazon, I have a hard time believing I listened to the same recording. I thought the first movement fine enough, as well as the second, but starting with the scherzo, things just seemed to be awry. I hear no precision at all and entrances that sound tentative (particularly from the brass). This continues in the fourth and final. The chorus sounded wonderful at their ethereal entrance, but towards the climax I thought the sound just got shouty and lost a lot of depth and beauty in the tone. I thought both soloists were poor choices, particularly the alto with her flutter, bad diction, and short phrases.

Am I being unfair? Do I need to get my ears checked?

Post by mahlerei January 22, 2009 (2 of 20)
rosenkavalier817 said:

I have to say, I was pretty disappointed with this recording. After reading the review here and on Amazon, I have a hard time believing I listened to the same recording. I thought the first movement fine enough, as well as the second, but starting with the scherzo, things just seemed to be awry. I hear no precision at all and entrances that sound tentative (particularly from the brass). This continues in the fourth and final. The chorus sounded wonderful at their ethereal entrance, but towards the climax I thought the sound just got shouty and lost a lot of depth and beauty in the tone. I thought both soloists were poor choices, particularly the alto with her flutter, bad diction, and short phrases.

Am I being unfair? Do I need to get my ears checked?

If you need your ears checked then so do I. I listened to the original BBC broadcast so I knew this wasn't a 'Resurrection' worth buying. If you must have the work on SACD I'd say Zinman leads the field. And then there are plenty of fine RBCD versions as well.

Post by Kal Rubinson January 22, 2009 (3 of 20)
I have yet to hear a Gergiev Mahler performance that appeals to me. There is always something awry. I feel much in the same way about Ozawa's Mahler.

The sound is more than OK, though.

Kal

Post by Cherubino January 22, 2009 (4 of 20)
Kal Rubinson said:

I have yet to hear a Gergiev Mahler performance that appeals to me. There is always something awry. I feel much in the same way about Ozawa's Mahler.

The sound is more than OK, though.

Kal

Gergievís Mahler is one-dimensional, disregarding the complexities that are the essense of his music. Brash and viseral (loud, louder and very loud), yes, but in the end superficial and unsatisfying for those who know and love this music. There are several far better places to go for these symphonies. Gergiev is simply not competative.

Post by Peter January 23, 2009 (5 of 20)
Cherubino said:

Gergievís Mahler is one-dimensional, disregarding the complexities that are the essense of his music. Brash and viseral (loud, louder and very loud), yes, but in the end superficial and unsatisfying for those who know and love this music. There are several far better places to go for these symphonies. Gergiev is simply not competative.

I take it then you've heard all of Gergiev's Mahler? If so, you may want to alter "loud, louder and very loud", as that is, simply, not true.

On the other hand, you haven't said which Mahler recordings you do recommend.

Post by Cherubino January 23, 2009 (6 of 20)
Peter said:

I take it then you've heard all of Gergiev's Mahler? If so, you may want to alter "loud, louder and very loud", as that is, simply, not true.

On the other hand, you haven't said which Mahler recordings you do recommend.

All of these are on my shelf. I've omitted the many RBCDs in my collection considering where we are. Why multiple recommendations? There is no such thing as a "definitive" performance of any of these complex, massive scores. How could there be?

"Loud, louder and very loud". Yes, a bit of hyperbole, but I do find Gergiev to be an agressive conductor who siezes his opportunities to roar at bit too enthusiastically for my taste. Horses for courses, perhaps.

Mahler: Symphony No. 1 - San Francisco/Michael Tilson Thomas
Mahler: Symphony No. 1 - New York Philharmonic/Bernstein

Mahler: Symphony No. 2 - Slatkin
Mahler: Symphony No. 2 - San Francisco/Michael Tilson Thomas

Mahler: Symphony No. 3 - Chailly
Mahler: Symphony No. 3 - Zander

Mahler: Symphony No. 4 - San Francisco/Michael Tilson Thomas
Mahler: Symphony No. 4 - Reiner

Mahler: Symphony No. 5 - Zander
Mahler: Symphony No. 5 - Abbado
Too many conductors, seeking profundity, drag the Adagietto out , Zander and Abbado get it about right.

Mahler: Symphony No. 6 - San Francisco/Michael Tilson Thomas
Mahler: Symphony No. 6 - Abbado
Abbado places the Andante before the Scherzo, which, as there is a disc break between these movements, canít be programmed around.

Mahler: Symphony No. 7 - San Francisco/Michael Tilson Thomas

8th: nothing on SACD. I bought the Mahler: Symphony No. 8 - Haitink which is a good recording of a boring performance.

Mahler: Symphony No. 9 - San Francisco/Michael Tilson Thomas

Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde - Reiner

Post by Peter January 23, 2009 (7 of 20)
Cherubino said:

Mahler: Symphony No. 6 - Abbado
Abbado places the Andante before the Scherzo, which, as there is a disc break between these movements, canít be programmed around.

Not on topic, but:

it appears that andante-scherzo is what Mahler wanted and told his publishers to add that to the score.

http://classicalsource.com/db_control/db_features.php?id=6119

Besides, that's the way Abbado performed it.

Post by Gussy January 23, 2009 (8 of 20)
Dear All,

I have tried to listen to and appreciate Mahler in the past - it has never clicked. Until now! I find Gergiev´s Mahler exciting and totally engaging. To my ears the performances are razor-sharp - some of the sounds are almost frightening. The previous disc, the third, I can´t fault. I don´t agree at all with the "loud, louder" analogy - many sections/movements are calm and controlled. They contrast well with the more dramatic sections. Yes, the Barbican sound is a little "dry" but just try turning it up - the sound comes alive!

The biggest compliment I can pay Gergiev is that I´ll now start buying other SACDs of these works. RBCD you can forget.

Post by Cherubino January 23, 2009 (9 of 20)
Peter said:

Not on topic, but:

it appears that andante-scherzo is what Mahler wanted and told his publishers to add that to the score.

http://classicalsource.com/db_control/db_features.php?id=6119

Besides, that's the way Abbado performed it.

Maybe, and I certainly donít have the answer, but it should be acknowledged that there is continuing disagreement amongst both scholars and conductors on this point. Indeed, the recorded performances of Bernstein, Solti, Karajan, Horenstein, Tilson-Thomas, Zander, Haitink, Tennstedt, Sanderling, Chailly, and many others, place the scherzo before the andante.

Since itís not as clear cut as you suppose, I pointed it out simply to inform listeners that this release doesnít allow for the option of programming the symphony either way. Obviously ďÖthatís they way Abbado performed itĒ, but those listed above, didnít, and some listeners may be interested in hearing it both ways and decide for themselves without a disc change, which the Zander allows.

http://www.andante.com/profiles/mahler/Symph6.cfm, in part, presents the argument for Scherzo, Andante:

"Initially, the order was Allegro, Scherzo, Andante and Finale. This is the order generally adopted today. It was, however, at Essen that Mahler probably allowed himself to be influenced by a number of his friends who pointed out the striking similarity between the opening of the Scherzo and that of the initial Allegro, and he was persuaded, therefore, to place the Andante in second position, an order he retained in Munich at the time of the work's second performance in November 1906. But in the course of rehearsals for the Viennese première a few weeks later in January 1907, he decided to revert to the original order and later asked his friend Willem Mengelberg to consider this order definitive. These hesitations and reversals on numerous points of detail and even on a matter as important as the order of the movements are confirmed by Mahler's contemporaries. As was so often the case, Mahler felt while writing the Sixth Symphony that he was the instrument of a power greater than himself. On this occasion, however, that power was mysterious, tragic and implacable, plunging him into a state of insurmountable anguish."

Post by Peter January 23, 2009 (10 of 20)
"It was, however, at Essen that Mahler probably allowed himself to be influenced...." The important word here is "probably".

My source is much newer than that on andante's site. Mengelberg got the revised order for the movements in 1919, not from Mahler, but from his widow! Up till then, it had been performed andante-scherzo, and it is solely Alma responsible for the change.

During Mahler's lifetime, every performance was andante-scherzo.

I don't really have very strong views one way or the other about recordings already in the can, except always to listen to the movements in the order they were performed on the recording. After all, what's done is done. Even when sessions go on for several days, that is the way the conductor conceived the work.

However, I do feel conductors in future should justify their choice of order....

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