Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Mahler, James Levine, London Symphony Orchestra|
Mahler: Symphony No. 6
Similarly Requested CDs
More excellent out-of-print Mahler from Levine
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 01/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Levine's peripatetic Mahler cycle for RCA took him to London for this Sixth Sym. some time in the Seventies (no recording dates given). He was given notably good sound with plenty of presence and impact, and the digital mastering is fine. Presently BMG has no front-line Mahler cycle, so they are insane not to re-release Levine's performances in toto. Since all his readings are virtuosic and exuberant, somebody should have the bright idea of finishing his cycle with the missing symphonies #2 and #8, as well.
This Sixth is typical of what I've come to expect now that I've tracked down all the out-of-print recordings. It is extroverted, rambunctious, and high-energy, with little hint of Mahler's anguished conflicts. Levine takes us for a thrilling ride, yet he is musician enough to make many interesting points along the way. The first movement here marches confidently from the opening bar, adopting the fast tempo we've gotten used to since Bernstein. Unlike Bernstein, however, Levine favors very little rubato; his pace keeps a steady line once it's set. The LSO plays with great verve, if not quite the headlong exuberane one hears from the Chicago and Philadelphia orchestras that perform in other parts of Levine's cycle.
The Scherzo is placed next. Levine has been so unbuttoned in the first movement that there's no contrast of mood here--we could be hearing just a change of tempo. He doesn't bring out bitterness or satire; this is a joyful romp. One first becomes aware here that events would be more interesting if some extra shading and contrast were provided.
In the Andante Levine chooses a fast, flowing pace compared to Karajan and Bernstein; at 15 min. this is still slower than the recent Abbado account with the Berlin Phil. (DG) by almost two minutes, so it doesn't feel like a race. Levine doesn't find this movement to be as inward and poignant as most conductors do. He is even a bit detached at the outset, but the climax has great impact and the orchestra plays with appropriate intensity.
Levine's finale, at 30 min., is about average, although 3 min. faster than Bernstein. If the Sxith is to deserve its subtitle of "Tragic," it has to be here. Levine doesn't aim for that. The through line is strong and extroverted, as before. By the end my reaction was still very positive--I am a fan of Levine's outgoing Mahler--but other listeners might feel that he doesn't provide enough upheavals or explore the shadows. Five stars, even though Sym. 3, 5, 7, and 9 are all more successful.