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Which versions of this masterpiece would you recommend?
First, you have to decide whether you prefer a version with a tenor and mezzo or a version with tenor and baritone.
Personally, I prefer the chamber versions of this work. There is one version on Harmonia Mundi conducted by Philippe Herreweghe leading the Ensemble Musique Oblique which is good. The chamber versions emphasize the voice which is often overpowered in the full orchestral version.
But my favorite is the version for piano only published by Warner Classics I believe on their Apex label for tenor and mezzo (Thomas Moser and Brigitte Fassbaender). This is because it brings out the voices more than any version I have heard to date.
A full orchestra version that will not disappoint is the Wunderlich and Ludwig version conducted by Klemperer and published by EMI. This is my favorite in full orchestra and tenor and mezzo with Wunderlich sounding very heroic and Ludwig just emitting that luscious sound of hers, especially in the opening bars of Der Abschied, the last movement.
The full orchestra tenor and baritone rendition conducted by Rattle leading the CBSO with a German tenor whose name I cannot recall and American baritone Thomas Hampson. This is my favorite for tenor and baritone.
Still another full orchestra rendition, is kind of a rarity/oddity. Conducted by Salonen leading the LA Philharmonic, it features no less than Placido Domingo with his Spanish-accented German and Swedish baritone Bo Skovhus.
Hope this helps and that I wasn't too pedantic. Octavio
A music lover currently living in the middle of nowhere.
This is of course very difficult as there are so many recordings of this great masterpiece and I´ve only listened to a few.
In fact,I´m currently listening to Barenboims recording with Chicago and I really love this performance.
Two other very good recordings are Levine/BPO and Walter/NYPO.
I can strongly recommend the Haitink recording with Baker and King on Philips - by far my favourite version.
Should be quite cheap too, if it hasn't been deleted
My favorite version is Giulini with Araiza and Fassbaender and the Berliner Philharmoniker on DG. Very lyrical and intense performance. Also much better engineered than many DG recordings made in Berlin with Karajan, meaning less glossy and hazy, full but transparent sound.
My fav remains the Haitink/ Baker version. I also have a weak spot for the 1957 Scherchen version.
By the way, if you search the archive:
There has been an article about the recordings in 1997. (any good CD's since?)
And on the AVRO site there is a 2006 Video of the Concertgebouw with Haitink:
I prefer contralto/tenor/full orchestra versions starting with Ferrier/Patzak/Walter, a recording that seems to divide opinions quite radically but still sounds good to me.
A big disappointment was the Baker/Spiess/Kempe issue on BBC Music, which received rave reviews in, ahem, certain quarters (there you go, this thread will be shut down before the day's out). I'm a big Kempe fan but I don't think he quite has it in Mahler and Spiess is horrendous, scooping up to his higher notes. The recording is also iffy.
I've been well pleased with my Horenstein, BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra with Alfreda Hodgson and John Mitchinson on Descant 01.
I am also very fond of the Klemperer Das Lied, as Ludwig has everything required for the demands. Yet Wunderlich is a delight as well; if he probably wouldn't have had the heft outside the studio, it hardly matters on this classic disk. It's a favorite.
I've recently downloaded the Kubelik version with Dame Janet and Waldemar Kmennt. I've never been a fan of the tenor's (mostly turned sour by the earlier Beethoven 9th with HvK), but he sounds in very good form here, not stressed at all. Baker is magical. Kubelik's expertise with Mahler is well-known, and the rich details orchestrally are many. I'm customarily very suspicious of live recordings, especially "historical" ones, but this is in excellent sound for its era and I can recommend it very highly.
musicfan, An intersting topic as it raises an issue which I suspect many older listeners now experience. My generation was the one which collected the pioneer Patzak/Ferrier/Walter recording when it came out. We played it many times; we still sense their voices when we mentally hear the work. Most of us investigated the many good - indeed often technically better - versions that followed that have already been mentioned. But we return to the now classic Walter version, wifh Ferrier's inimitable closing phrases.
I enjoy the Baker, Mitchinson and Leppard one as well as the Walter.
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