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Can't argue with your list, mgh194, although I don't know the Maazel 4 or Gielen 9 - which I've heard is quite unique. The 4th seems to be quite lucky on record, from the old Szell on forwards there are many good versions. I heard an interesting performance recently by Nezet-Sequin which, however, was marred by an atrociously bright recording.
Haven't heard any of the Gergiev nor the Zinman. Anybody dipped in to either of these two cycles?
No. 1: Kubelik - I like his fresh style, especially as I find the finale a bit overblown.
No. 2: Solti - the levels may be a bit artificial, but the dramatic power and intensity of his performance does it for me.
No. 3: Abaddo
No. 4: Not sure, I like the Tendstedt; also the Douglas Boyd chamber version on Avie.
No. 5: Kubelik, Bernstein (VPO) and Barbirolli.
No. 6: Karajan.
No. 7: Abaddo.
No. 8: Solti.
No. 9: Karajan, Walter.
Das Lied: the Horenstein/BBC by a long mile, though somehow I have not got round to hearing the famous Ferrier one!
On "Caballe's" point that he grows impatient with Mahler I too used to do this until I started listening entirely for the moment that I was in. I am not a scholarly 'listener' of music and tend to listen to opera more than symphonies but I find with Mahler that the individual moments are so involving that I am lost in them at whatever point in the symphony I find myself.
This is why I love the whole of Beethoven's and Mozart's and Shubert's symphonies but even after listening as a whole find myself love the movements and individual sections of Mahler.
That said I do find that the 8th (probably because it's composed straight through for the final long section) and the Lied Von Der Erde hang together the best.
So I certainly cannot see the connections between movements in Mahler in the way I see them with Beethoven, Mozart et al. As much as Mahler No. 9 is one of my favourite pieces of music and I love all the movements, I fail to see how middle two movements have anything to do with the outer two. The last movement for me picks up the thread of the first but again I am listening for the moment rather than in relation to the whole (which for me is too big a whole to comprehend while one is immersed in it). Something perhaps of Mahler being less than the sum of his parts? Am I making sense?
This may explain why I can't get Bruckner - his moments are not great, his movements do not move me and I rarely get the experience his wholes.
Thanks to all for the recommendations.
Martin, as you are an opera lover, it's no wonder you like 8 and Das Lied best of all! I on the other hand am very much a "symphonist", and those are my least favourites of Mahler's output (along with the 3rd, which always makes a "blah" impression, except for the Bim-Bam movement, which I think some crossover singer should include on a Christmas album).
I think Tennstedt's cycle is the most reliable overall, so he's my go-to guy in this music. Nanut's recordings of 1 and 5 are Goldilocks versions (i.e. just right) in the European tradition, but his 6 is not as successful (neither is Tennstedt's, actually).
Rattle I usually find frustrating, but his Berlin 10 is pretty amazing (the close-up sound helps). If only the rest of his cycle was so unaffected.
There are some obscure recordings of the RPO conducted by Inoue, recorded in the 80s, which are worth seeking out if you can find them. Great warm sound and reverent interpretations. Mastered a little low, though.
Re Bruckner, I'd advise first of all not to waste your time with Jochum (controversy!) Concentrate on collecting versions of the 9th, which is his best, albeit unfinished. It's probably the closest he came to Mahler's style.
'Art doesn't need philosophers. It just needs to communicate from soul to soul.' Alejandro Jodorowsky
Just heard the new Markus Stenz performance of the Mahler 4th on Oehms and it is refreshing and at times breathtaking. The 3rd movement is particularly fine. If this movement doesn't scale the heights for me, literally change my breathing, then I usually do not return to such a performance. This new one passes the test and is now at the forefront of my favorite Mahler 4ths.
It may be that we all have somewhere or other a mental imprint of the first time we heard a piece and that more or less subconsciously we relate all subsequent performances to it. I heard the Mahler 8 and, I think, the Sixth for the first time in the mid 1950s, the 8th from the Flipse LPs and the Sixth in what must have been a broadcast from the Holland Festival also conducted by Flipse. Recently I had a chance to rehear both Flipse performances (the Sixth was recorded live and came out on LP) again. It was like coming home - though I now know how good they were. I think my first Mahler 9 was Barbirolli's, though I don't find any recollection of it in his Berlin recording - I think the Halle performance I heard must have been very different, especially in the finale, where the aching tension I remember is completely missing on the disc. And I've never since heard anything to match Bernstein's Royal Festival Hall performance in the Seventh, though just how good an interpretation it was I've never quite been able to decide - he charted the first movement with pinpoint accuracy, but why did he need to take off to a height of four feet above the rostrum to signal the recapitulation? As for Rattle, the performances of the Tenth he did when conducting the BBC Scottish Orchestra in the 70s were astonishing - the completion wasn't much played then, and there was only the Ormandy recording. If you come across a performance that eclipses the early memory and recreates the piece for you the chances are that you will decide it's a great one. I heard the Berthold Goldschmidt premiere of the first version of Cooke's completion. After Rattle's early broadcasts I had no memory of it, and neither his Bournemouth or Berlin recordings have wiped out my memory of them. Perhaps it's time to start combing the BBC archives for early Rattle Mahler performances.
OK my approach is maybe not so universal, but when I find a recording that fully satisfies me, I don't buy another one.. so e.g. I don't need another Fifth after Bernstein and Wiener Philharmoniker!
my by far not complete list is:
2 Abbado and Lucerne Festival Orchestra
5 VPO/Bernstein (1987)
6 VPO/Bernstein (1988)
7 Concertgebouw/Haitink (1969) MAGIC (The Seventh Symphony is really underrated. I have more recordings; but it is really beautiful and great - try this Haitink - only available in the set - and I hope you will argee)
8 I don't know. and I don't care really
9 many candidates :D Klemperer, Walter (VPO or around 1960), Bernstein (BPO), Haitink, Karajan (BPO live, Deutsche Grammophon; ?)
ad No. 2
I also like Klemperer and Philharmonia Orchestra and definitely have to try the great Bruno Walter.
And also THANK YOU for this Forum and opportunity (Gramophone) and your recommendations!
I picked up the Gergiev 8th last week, but haven't found the time to sit down and really listen to it. Put the headphones on while doing something else, and the SACD is glorious. But, i have to admit, i've yet to really 'get' Mahler, and I've been trying for years.
I also was very suprised to see not much mention of Kubelik past the quasi-obligatory no. 1!:
1 + 2: Walter (Sony Classical)
4: Horenstein (EMI)
6: Kubelik (Audite)
7, 9: Chailly
10 Adagio - Kubelik
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