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Baroque & Classical Ballet Music
Hartford Symphony, Mahler
Baroque & Classical Ballet Music
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (23) - Disc #1


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CD Reviews

Delicious Music Making
T. Beers | Arlington, Virginia United States | 09/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I don't generally review recordings that are no longer officially available, but Amazon lists some copies of this superb Vanguard CD as available from resellers, plus there is an authorized CD-R reprint available from Arkivmusic, so here are my 'two cents.' The other reviewer makes some sensible remarks about the authenticity of these performances and why that simply does not matter given the quality of performance art achieved by arranger, conductor, and band. I agree with most of what he says. I would add that Felix Mottl, the man responsible for these lovely if anachronistic arrangements, was one of the greatest conductors of the late 19th/early 20th century period (he died in 1911, the same year as Gustav Mahler). Mottl left no recordings, but the arrangements on this CD indicate to me that he must have had a first-rate talent for achieving balance and color. Never descending to anything like a garish Stokowski/Hollywood style, Mottl's arrangements have you remarking again and again at how beautifully (and tastefully) -- and with what love -- the conductor/arranger resurrected what few other 19th century conductors thought worth playing. But what really persuaded me to write about this CD is the sheerly delicious quality of playing and recorded sound. If you can get over the problems associated with 19th century arrangements of Baroque music, you will discover what is simply one of the loveliest and most entrancing recordings of orchestral sound that I have ever heard. Kudos go to Fritz Mahler and the Hartford (Connecticut) Symphony ca. 1960. A distant cousin of Gustav, Fritz was generally thought merely a respectable kapellmeister, and the Hartford Symphony was by no means considered a world-beater ensemble. But here conductor and orchestra produce, again and again, ravishing, extraordinarily cultured playing, all of which is captured to perfection by Seymour Solomon's Vanguard engineers. Solomon/Vanguard used to advertise their Lps as "Music for the Connoisseur." That rather cheesy-sounding slogan certainly fits here .... out of the way repertoire performed in a brilliant yet warm manner with stunning 'golden glow' analog sound superbly remixed into a digital CD. Buy this disc and I believe you too will be entranced by what you hear!"
Harvey C. Greisman | Wilmington, DE USA | 01/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Here are pre-classical selections performed in a style that's nearly extinct. This is probably how concert audiences heard Purcell, Rameau, and Gluck, if they heard them at all, for nearly a century. Today, Felix Mottl's arrangements sound surreal, and they're guaranteed to make purists cringe.

But, wait! I've always wondered how musicians know for sure how music sounded three hundred years ago. With all due respect to the scholarship and research entailed, they'd need all of Shirley MacLaine's Channeling talents, and more, to defend the claims of Certified Authenticity made by interpreters and recording studios. Might be entertaining to have listeners take the Pepsi Challenge; my guess is that the majority would vote for the pneumatic romantic versions epitomized by Stokowski.

If Gluck or Handel or Couperin had valved brasses, steel strings, and grand pianos at their disposal, would they have jumped at the chance? We'll never know, but consider this: Once Beethoven got his hands on a state-of-the art Broadwood from London, he never looked back.

It's too bad that Genuine Authenticity has come to dominate recordings of this genre. Money probably plays a role: Since concert audiences for Historically Correct music are tiny, it's largely through CDs (and downloads)that these performance practices survive.

OK, a recording that features The Hartford Symphony Orchestra conducted by Fritz Mahler is not going to ring a lot of chimes. But in an age of deadly serious precision, academic interpretation, and compulsive authenticity, this reissued Vanguard LP from the '60s is just Fun."