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  Decca Classics -
  470 652-2 (2 discs)
  Mahler: Symphony No. 3 - Chailly
  Mahler: Symphony No. 3, Bach Suite

Petra Lang (mezzo)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Riccardo Chailly (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 5

Reviews: 10 show all

Review by threerandot June 5, 2007 (10 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Ricardo Chailly leads the Concertgebuow Orchestra in this majestic performance of Mahler's third symphony. The Bach fill-up is excellent as well.

Kräftig entschieden (Strong and decisive):
Ricardo Chailly proves to us that he is capable of giving us a first-rate performance in Mahler's third symphony.
The opening movement begins with one of Mahler's favorite devices, the March, with impressive horns, crisp percussion and deep, deep bass. Those with a subwoofer or large speakers are in for a treat. There is a feeling of desperation in this music and the powerful dynamics only heighten the emotions. The darker, more sinister moments with trumpets, bass and percussion are contrasted with gentler moments in the winds and violins. Piccolos, flutes, oboes and clarinets come through beautifully. You can also hear some of the deep bass coming from your rear speakers as well. There is a heroic and indominatable spirit in this music. At almost 35 minutes, in lesser hands, this first movement could peter out very quickly, but Chailly manages to keep the music moving with plenty of energy and momentum.

Tempo di Menuetto (In the tempo of a minuet)
After the tumultuous and dramatic first movement, we settle into the genial and sunny second movement. This minuet is filled with a Viennese charm and ease. The pizzicato strings and harps help set the mood. This is ebullient music making. I wish that the strings could come out just a bit more, but overall, this is a nice contrast to the first movement.

Comodo (Scherzando) (Comfortably, like a scherzo)
The third movement is filled with the joy and beauty of nature and is marked by colorful woodwinds and horns. The music has a rustic, dancelike character filled with the innocence and happiness of youth. The posthorn solos are the centerpiece of this movement. They are tender, lyrical and moving and will stick in your head. I appreciate the distance the listener is from the posthorn, almost as if it is calling us from the depths of the woods. French horns join in. It conjures up serene and peaceful feelings. The solo is broken by more rustic dances, but returns again later. The movement closes with exuberant climatic fanfares.

Sehr langsam--Misterioso (Very slowly, mysteriously)
Petra Lang's mezzo-soprano voice proves ideally suited to the mysterious fourth movement, filled with deep yearning and longing. The mood is serene, with soft french horns and strings. This is one of the most poignant moments in this entire symphony. It all ends with hushed strings. The recording captures the intimacy of this music making.

Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck (Cheerful in tempo and bold in expression)
The fifth movement features an all women's chorus singing a joyful song which contains material Mahler would later use in his fourth symphony. The tune is bright and genial.

Langsam--Ruhevoll--Empfunden (Slowly, tranquil, deeply felt)
The finale to this symphony begins with solemn and gentle strings. The music is tranquil, searching and hopeful. Chailly draws inspired playing from the Concertgebuow and this last movement is like one, long, giant breath. The music has depth, vulnerability and uncertainty, yet it is constantly building. We have followed the journey of this symphony and we are coming to its magnificent conclusion. The music ebbs, with a lone, solo flute, followed by trumpets, expressing hope. The music swells again, with passionate and shimmering strings, magnificent tympanis and blaring brass which builds towards a magnificent and heroic close.

I am very impressed with this excellent performance of Mahler's third and Chailly manages to keep this 100 minutes of music under control and always moving forward. The closing movement is in itself an incredible feat, like one long crontrolled climax. Truly inspired.

Since the Mahler symphony is too long to fit on one disc, there is the added bonus of the attractively played Bach Suite, arranged by Mahler. It contains the Overture, Rondeau and Badinerie from the Suite No. 2, as well as the Air and Gavottes I and II from the Suite No. 3. They are all beautifully played.

I. Overture: This is highlighted by the organ played by Richard Ram. Very impressive.
II. Rondeau and Badinerie: There is some nice harpsichord playing in the Rondeu and the flute playing in the Badinerie is first rate.
III. Air: This is also known as the very popular "Air on the G String". Strings are rich with the pizzicato in the bass pleasently caught.
IV. Gavottes I and II: These majestic Gavottes are played with great energy and enthusiasm. The brass is very impressively recorded. The same can be said for the rest of the orchestra and continuo.

This could very well be one recording of Mahler's third symphony that will sit on the shelf with other famous recordings of this symphony. An excellent recording, even if I would have preferred more air around the sound at times, as well as more body to the strings. Still, Chailly gets the most from the Concertgebuow players who really give it their all.

This set was released on two discs and the fact that it is priced as one full-price disc should make this purchase very attractive to Mahler fans. Add the excellent Bach Suite fill-up and you have a disc that makes for a very enjoyable evening of listening. Highly recommended.

(This review refers to the MCH portion of this disc.)

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Review by seth July 12, 2010 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is a performance that is pretty much beyond reproach. In his third symphony Mahler began to push to sound of the orchestra beyond the comfort zone of romanticism. Case and point is the glissando oboe in the 4th movement. Just think for a moment how otherworldly that and the whole movement sounds. Throughout the symphony, and especially in the first movement, the brass and woodwinds are pushed to the front of the balance with all kinds of effects to the point that they shriek. And to conduct the symphony successfully, you have to be willing to embrace it as more radical than romantic. And Chailly does this with ease. The Concertgebouw’s woodwinds pop-out right out, especially during the times when they are instructed to play with their “bells up.” But this isn’t to say they cannot capture the sheer beauty of the final movement.

Chaily has a clear vision of the symphony’s narrative logic. There’s a lot of places where the symphony can drag, but every time I listen to the performances Chailly sinks his hooks into me in the first minutes and the next 100 go by in a flash. Throughout the orchestral playing is brilliant. The only reason I don’t give the performance a 5/5 is because Michael Gielen is the master of pushing the orchestra to getting as close as possible to shrieking, as well as playing up various effects like the mutes and glissandos. He remains unsurpassed in the first movement.

The sound quality is outstanding. It's very big and warm, but unlike the RCO Live recordings, this recording has a better sense of clarity while maintaining the Concertgebouw’s reverberant acoustics -- in my opinion the RCO Live recordings can sound muddy and cavernous (as a result of the hall’s reverberant acoustics). The deep bass is quite impressive -- just listen to the bass drum in the first minute. The rear channels are also used quite effectively, such as to make the off-stage snare drum before the final reprise of the horn fan fair in the first movement sound off-stage. Instead of sounding like someone turned the volume down on it, it spatially sounds like it’s coming from the right wing of the hall (though the Concertgebouw doesn’t have wings). I guess it’s hard to describe, but when you hear it, it’s quite impressive. The Mezzo's voice is beautifully layered in with the orchestra -- it doesn't like sound like she was spot mic'd and then that was patched into the mix. It also sounds like Mahler's directions to place the choirs "in a high gallery" were followed. The sound of the boy's choir seems to wrap around the listener and the women's choir sounds to mostly come from the rear channels. And none of it comes off as gimmicky -- the sound in the rears aren't pumped up to point this out.

It looks like this recording is already out of print, so get it before it disappears into oblivion.

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Review by Dr. O August 8, 2005 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
A trully first-rate performance by one of the world's great orchestras! This should certainly be in the collection of each and every Mahler fan!

I find the sonics to be wonderful, specially in the "non-tutti" sections. At times - when the entire orchestra is playing - some of the clarity is slightly diminished. In this sense, I find the SFS recording to be better.

In terms of the interpretation offered by Chailly, it is very good. One element that I enjoy in MTT's version is how he is able to bring out that side of Mahler which was, in spite of all his polished urbanity, still decidedly bohemian. Staging and the purity of each individual line is also cleaner in the MTT version, though at times there are moments in this performance which are somewhat more engaging. Chailly is good in his ability to keep the "musical thread" moving forward through time, whereas with MTT there is a tendency to "milk" each section for it's own individual meaning and nuance. Two different styles and approaches - one not "better" than the other, but simply "different."

The Bach Suite is a delight, specially the Air - one of my all-time favorite compositions. How wonderful to have this included in this very satisfying CD!

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Works: 1  

Gustav Mahler - Symphony No. 3 in D minor