Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Mahler, Neumann, Ludwig|
Symphony 3 in D
About impossible to find but worth the search
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 02/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Vaclav Neumann's traversal of the Mahler symphonic canon has many high points. His box of all nine complete symhonies and the fragment of the 10th Symphonies Nos 1-9 shows this conductor cites universal values across the symphonies. While I found the box a bit too up and down across the middle orchestral symphonies, for which I prefer his Leipzig Gewandhaus recordings Symphony 7 and Mahler: Symphony No. 5, they amply demonstrate that, when Neumann is good, he is outstanding.
In this pair of symphonies -- the Symphony No. 3 clocking in at almost two hours' playing time and the rough-hewn Symphony No. 8, with its idiotic vocal score and inflated staffing requirements -- Neumann shows genius in being able to manage Mahler's most titanic symphonic canvasses with beauty, care and power.
In the Symphony No. 3 Neumann's introduction shows Pan waking to the world of nature with beauty, power and dimension. The singing of mezzo soprano Christa Ludwig and the Prague Children's Choir is lovely and endearing, bringing forth the messages on nature the composer indicated. Special commendation is due the conductor for his attention to the motto theme that dominates the final lengthy movement and closes the symphony in a fit of glory.
Until hearing this recording, most other performancs of this gargantuan symphony seemed endlessly episodic to me with only Barbirolli Symphony 3: Recorded 1969 a seemingly coherent reading of what is, essentially, two orchestral portions surrounding a vocal symphony. While he adheres to architecture, it is clear Neumann's view of this music is principally its beauty. The playing of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, which was one of the world's most individual sounding symphonies when these scores were recorded, adds immeasurably to the overall listening experience even if you don't like the old world wale of the horns and woodwinds.
Neumann's "Symphony of the Thousand" is my favored recording of it. The conductor's direction is straightforward and stated beyond loveliness. His traversal of this difficult music won the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque award for choral music in 1983 and is outstanding by any measure; it compares well to any version extant. The playing of the Czech Philharmonic is consistently gorgeous and this contains the best singing I've heard in this music. The soloists, led by soprano Gabriela Benackova and baritone Wolfgang Schone, sing beautfiully and on pitch in the difficult, operatic second.
While the notes only show the musical score in German and Czech, nothing is lost for most listeners because Mahler's vocal score, based on a hymn in the first part and Goethe's Faust in the second, is so laced with nonsense. While the musicmaking can be beautiful and allowances have to be made for 19th century romanticism, I shudder to think some people find this score devotional. For me, it again confirms Bruno Walter's judgment of the difference between Bruckner and Mahler -- that Bruckner knew God and Mahler spent all his life searching for God.
This is a marvelous pairing of Mahler's symphonies of greatest girth and complexity. Neumann, who was the first conductor behind the Iron Curtain to record all the Mahler symphonies, shows himself a dedicated and loving Mahlerian here. You may have to search the world to get this CD but, for listeners wanting only these two, it will be worth your trial."
William G. Kempster | 10/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a review of Symphon No. 3 only, as No. 8 is nowhere near as fine a work. This performance is quite old, but catches the CPO at their wonderfull peak under Neumann. The playing here is beyond belief really, and as the other reviewer has noted, the 'posthorn' solo is particularly a feature. I agree this is marginally too present in the balance, but that is forgiven completely when the playing is on this transedental level. Simply the finest solo brass performance you will ever hear (albeit on flugelhorn rather than the impractical original). The rest of the performance is a wonderful match. The recording is one of Supraphon's early digital forays, but is exemplary in its naturalness and sense of perspective. Climaxes sound marginally limited by today's (occasionally achieved) standards, but all in all this is a fine recording. The performance is worth the asking price for the posthorn solo alone, but you will find the whole thing wonderful, including the gorgeous last movement tribute to Beethoven. One of the true classics of 'the gramophone'."
Laid-back, naturally flowing
Pater Ecstaticus | Norway | 10/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"(This is a review of the symphony as appeared on LP: Pro Arte Digital 2PAD 206)
I could not judge this symphony as part of the whole cycle by Vaclav Neumann and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, because I only own his recording of Mahler's Third and Sixth Symphony. But where I find his reading of the Sixth generally unremarkable, I very much like this performance of Mahler's Third Symphony. It is characterized by very relaxed but consistently fine playing of the orchestra without losing any of the necessary elements like mystery and boisterous humor. In fact, the whole symphony here breathes with the original, fresh 'humoresque'-like inspiration of the Des Knaben Wunderhorn songs.
The posthorn solo in the third movement is recorded somewhat close, but I like that, because one can admire its beauty to the full and at the same time it is holding the somewhat loose musical textures together. But at the same time the playing is so natural and flowing, that there exists no danger in loosing one's attention at all in the first place, despite the fact that a certain degree of building up of tensions - which we can hear in the very best recordings with even better orchestras - might be missing in this performance. But anyway, the 'warm', very 'central European sound' of the beautifully balanced orchestra is so honestly sympathetic Mahler's cause, never attracting any unnecessary attention to it (except for those transcendental moments you realize that the hairs on the back of your neck are standing up again ;-), that it all feels absolutely right.
One more redeeming quality (if I could put it like this in the first place, which I actually doubt) is the gourgeous contralto solo by Christa Ludwig in the fourth, 'Midnight Song'-movement, leading to a laid-back but fresh fifth movement. And the last movement is being played also very much the way it is intended: peaceful, sensitive, though not very slow at all (19:58), but sounding just right, almost like a song in itself (not losing one's attention for a moment, such it might with for example Michael Tilson Thomas' recent recording with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, crawling along for over 26 minutes). The conductor, by not placing too much stress anywhere, here does indeed build up a kind of 'naturally sustained tension' (indeed over the course of the whole symphony) - making the symphony never sound sprawling or disjointed - which in the end to me is a most gratifying solution for this outrageously wonderful symphony. One might as well give this recording *five stars*."