|Review by georgeflanagin August 24, 2007 (19 of 19 found this review helpful)
Does the world need another recording of Das Lied? Well, it does need this one, and so do you. Excellent performance; very good recording. This is only the second SACD to which I shall give a "must buy," even though it is not flawless.
Last weekend, Glenda went shopping for shoes for our wedding next weekend. I slipped next door to Border's, and escaped even more deeply to the poorly populated back of the store where the few CDs and SACDs of legit music are to be found. RCA has apparently gotten around to mining the Reiner CSO catalog in a serious way, and this one, along with some Strauss oddities made their way home with us and the shoes.
Dr. Tom is a former GP who now runs Blue Oasis Audio, and is the local QUAD-pimp, and thereby the recipient of a large chunk of my disposable income. He is also the greatest enthusiast of Das Lied von der Erde that I have ever known. I called him immediately on hearing this record, and said to him simply, "You gotta get it." The Das-Lied-a-thon has been going on in Richmond for the past few days. I may revise the review a little to add some comparisons after we make it through the stack.
I spoke to Ramesh Nair, site reviewer of sa-cd.net ne plus ultra, to ask if he were going to review this disc. He told me to go for it. And so, we have ...
The guidelines for this site say that one should not dwell on comparisons, something that is difficult to do when the reviewer is claiming that this is something you absolutely must buy, even if, like me, you already owned five performances. Dr. Tom has all of mine but one, and another five besides.
The two soloists are wonderful. I don't know exactly what has happened to Mahler singing in the past few years, but I seem to have a growing collection of Mahler in which the vocals seem slightly forced and strained, and frequently off pitch to varying degrees. Not so here. My only quibble is with the drinking song, which doesn't seem to quite have the sense of .. drinking? .. that I find in the Guilini VPO 1984 recording.
The orchestra is well rehearsed, and the solely orchestra parts do not drag in the least. I find that in several of the Das Lieds to which I have listened in the past few days that when the orchestra is left to its own, it slows down ... and wanders away .... Nowhere is this more apparent than in the last movement. The CSO, by comparison, expresses its rhythmic intensity throughout.
One of the more difficult entrances to nail is the beginning of the last movement. As Dr. Tom says, you should feel that you are staring off into the abyss with dear Gustav at your side. Reiner is right there, and the forward movement takes you out to where you are hanging ten at the cliff when the voice joins at 1:24 to contemplate the jump.
It is very very difficult to believe that this recording has lain in the dust bin for so long. The recording holds its own with any other in my collection of similar material.
This recording is the same age that I am, and it has certainly held up better. The sounds of the individual instruments are captured with such detail that you might think you are listening to Schoenberg's scaled back version for chamber orchestra. Stereo separation is pleasingly enjoyable. Front to back depth is just a little lacking compared with the best examples of the SACD genre, and there is just a little tape wobble and roughness around 7 minutes into the last movement, and periodically thereafter in the vocals only. None of these small flaws should cause you to forgo this purchase.
For those of us who like wind instruments, there are plenty of wind solos in this piece, and in this recording they are most enjoyable. If you happen to think a contrabass bassoon is a pretty cool thing, this is your recording.
It's $11. Even with the price of fuel, you can afford to drive a long way to get it.
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|Review by Jonalogic September 28, 2010 (6 of 9 found this review helpful)
|A perceptive review from George.
I must admit, my initial reaction was the same as his: with the indubitably great Klemperer (PO/Wunderlich, Ludwig) and Walter (VPO/Patzak, Ferrier) recordings - and their truly stellar soloists - do we really need this?
The answer, needless to say, is yes.
This performance, which I confess to my shame that I had not heard before, can hold its head high in such company. As those are deserved classics of the gramophone era, that is quite an endorsement.
Actually, this is one of those rare recordings that you know - from its first bars, almost - is going to be great.
This is a clear-eyed reading, with superb orchestral playing complementing Forrester and Lewis. Some of the wind playing, in particular, is exquisite. What a band this was! And the soloists rise to the challenge as well. OK, maybe these don't quite rival the corresponding soloists for Walter and Klemperer, but they are still very fine. Moreover- as noted by George - they seem to have an instinctive understanding of Mahler singing and style that has now all but vanished
I haven't mentioned the sound yet. The first bars show holographic imaging of all sections, with ravishing string and woodwind tone and utterly natural (non-spotlit!) voices.
I'm such a klutz, I actually made a note to listen out for George's noted glitch 7 minutes in, but became so wrapped up with the music that it slipped my mind... that speaks for itself!
My only (slight) disagreement with George concerns the stage depth, which I have to say sounds fine to me - wholly typical of the Chicago Hall recordings of the era.
This DLVE sound better than any I have heard, including the two greats mentioned above.
They simply don't make recordings like this nowadays. It's one of the great doggies. For a fiver (sterling) this is an absolute no-brainer. And at less than a sixth of the Esoteric recut of the Klemperer, there is just no contest.
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