Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Exceptional Mahler that should be in print
Alan | New York, NY | 05/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I hate to post a review here of a recording that's been out of print for several years and for which the cheapest used copy listed from amazon sellers as I write is priced at 44 dollars and change. But I'm going to.
The underrated William Steinberg was a champion of Mahler before Mahler was fashionable. He stayed a Mahler champion throughout his life, conducting most of the symphonies a number of times. On the basis of airchecks of live performances that circulate and this studio recording of the first from 1952, it seems to me very unfortunate that this is the only Mahler symphony he ever got to record commercially.
His opening of the first movement could not be more gentle and atmospheric, perhaps a bit surprising for someone whose Beethoven was generally brisk and even brusque. This is a very tender, lyrical but never underdone performance.
The second movement is a bit slower than some, but performed with so much detail in the phrasing and with such care for balances that it's never the least bit dull. Quite the opposite. I've rarely if ever heard a more compelling performance of this movement.
In the third movement, Steinberg intriguingly downplays the parodistic elements till after the middle section, but then he and the Pittsburgh Symphony bring them out fully. This gives the movement more of a build than it gets in many performances.
If the first three movements tend to be more gentle and less overtly dramatic than in some performances, Steinberg and the Pittsburgh players give a powerful performance of the last movement, giving full due to the turbulent sections, the lyrical sections (I've never heard them performed more meltingly) and the triumphant sections.
Except for some shrillness in the last movement, the 1952 mono sound is excellent.
The filler is a live performance of the Bloch Concerto Grosso No. 1 from a 1952 contemporary music festival in Pittsburgh, which was issued on a Capitol LP along with the William Schuman String Symphony. I confess that after several listenings, the Bloch truly does seem to me like filler.
But the Mahler is wonderful. To my mind, it ranks with if not perhaps a little above deservedly acclaimed recordings from such conductors as Walter, Horenstein, Bernstein, Kubelik and Boulez. Someone should give this a new reissue, perhaps with a different filler."