Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Mahler, Charles Adler, Vienna Symphony|
Symphony 3 (Recorded on April 20 1952)
One Of The Great Mahler 3rds
Jeffrey Lipscomb | Sacramento, CA United States | 06/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This superb "live" 1952 radio broadcast performance of the Mahler 3rd is an utterly ESSENTIAL item for any representative Mahler collection. It's a recording of the greatest historical importance, and the performance is quite unlike anything you will hear in today's concert halls.
F. Charles Adler (1889-1959) studied with Mahler and was a chorus master in the composer's 1910 world premiere of the 8th Symphony at Munich. Adler is one of five conductors closely acquainted with Mahler who left recordings of the composer's works. The others were Oscar Fried, Willem Mengelberg, Otto Klemperer and Bruno Walter (it is thought that another distinguished Mahler conductor, Hermann Scherchen, may have played in an orchestra under the composer's direction). Other great Mahler champions, all of whom made recordings that pre-date those of Leonard Bernstein, included Jascha Horenstein, Hans Rosbaud, Dmitri Mitropoulos, Willem von Otterloo (a wonderful 4th on Epic LP), Ernest Borsamsky (only the 1st on Dante LYS), and Rafael Kubelik (Barbirolli was a latecomer to the Mahler party).
It's interesting to compare exactly which conductors recorded what. Fried's sole legacy is an acoustic 1920's account of the 2nd (Naxos). Mengelberg left a superb "live" Mahler 4th and a studio reading of the 5th's Adagietto (Q-Disc). Klemperer's reputation as a Mahler conductor is based mainly on recordings of the 2nd, 4th, 7th, 9th and Das Lied von der Erde. Walter recorded the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 9th plus Das Lied. Both Klemperer and Walter tended to avoid the 3rd & 8th, both confessed total incomprehension of the 6th, and Klemperer had a low opinion of the 5th. Walter performed the Seventh just twice (1920). Scherchen left recordings of all the symphonies (and the 10th Adagio) except the 4th, which he disliked and rarely performed. There are Horenstein accounts (some still un-issued) of Das Lied and all the symphonies save the 2nd and the 10th. Rosbaud (especially brilliant in the 6th & 7th), Barbirolli & Mitropoulos (the first-ever First) recorded some but not all of the symphonies, while Kubelik recorded a complete studio set, minus the 10th, for DG (plus various "live" readings elsewhere). Barbirolli did a great 3rd (BBC Legends) and a superb 6th (EMI), and left accounts of all the other symphonies except 8 & 10.
Adler made the first-ever LP recordings of the 3rd & 6th in the early 1950's, plus a "live" 1952 1st (see my review of it on Tahra's "Art of Adler" CD set, which includes a superb Bruckner 6th). He also recorded two mvts. from the 10th on a SPA LP set, coupled with an excellent Bruckner 3rd.
Adler's 1951 studio account of the Mahler 3rd has appeared in a CD transfer ONLY on the Conifer label (England), coupled with the 6th, both in ghastly transfers. The 3rd on THIS Tahra 2-disc set is "live" from the following year. The two accounts are quite similar: same orchestra, chorus & soloist (the lovely Hildegard Roessel-Majdan), but the studio version's last mvt. runs about five minutes longer and is even more overwhelmingly eloquent (to my ears, it's the greatest EVER).
I don't normally quote other critics in my Amazon reviews, but I should note that this Tahra set has gotten mixed notices. Jed Distler at classicstoday criticizes the orchestral execution, but still concludes that "yet, with all its problems, there's something oddly touching and affirmative about Adler and his cohorts' brave, uphill battle with Mahler's most sprawling opus, a noble effort that lives in this flawed but fascinating document." I agree more with Mahler expert Tony Duggan at musicweb, who notes that Adler's spaciousness and weight "take us back to another world." While Duggan mistakenly identifies THIS recording as the earlier studio version, he rightly observes that "all through Adler justifies his weightier, muscular approach by a miracle of concentration," and while the players "aren't the last word in security, they have this music in their bone marrow. There is, I believe, a hint of what this work might have sounded like under Mahler himself, especially in the mellow horns and in a hundred different ways in which the strings turn a phrase." Duggan concludes by stating that "Horenstein and Barbirolli are supreme in this work ... and Charles Adler is 'hors concours'."
Duggan's point about the playing is well-taken: Adler's players are stylishly in the Old Viennese manner, with far more slides and portamenti than we hear today (Horenstein's fine Unicorn recording is the next closest thing in this regard). And in the liner notes for the studio version's original SPA LPs, written by none other than Mahler's widow Alma, we are given a fascinating revelation: "Score readers will note that in several places there are small deviations between the published score and the music heard. THESE DIFFERENCES REPRESENT CORRECTIONS WHICH MAHLER HIMSELF MADE AFTER THE PUBLICATION OF THE SCORE [emphasis added]."
So what we have here is essentially a UNIQUE, "final urtext" of Mahler's masterpiece. While there are other versions that I dearly love (Horenstein, Scherchen, Martinon, and Barbirolli), this "live" Adler and his 1951 studio account (SPA LPs) are especially close to my heart. I can't imagine ANY Mahler buff not wanting to own a copy of what Tahra has given us here.
Hearing is believing.
Howard G Brown | Port St. Lucie, FL USA | 05/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am constantly astonished at the quality of monophonic recorded sound from the 1950s. There are a number of recordings that cause me to wonder why the industry bothered with stereo at all -- because we have two ears? We have two eyes, but are content with a single screen for film and TV.
Of course, stereo provides directional sense and the dimension of space that attempts to replicate what we here in the concert hall. But frankly, what I hear from the back of the hall sounds closer to what I hear on these discs!
Many thanks for the extensive review that sorts out the origin of this recording. I heard the SPA studio recording when I was in college. A friend at the University of Chicago had the LPs on tape -- half-track mono, I do believe -- and he played back through what looked like a mini E-V Aristocrat rear-loaded corner horn (if anyone remembers those gems of another era). I believe the SPA release spanned 3 lps, much like the US Decca release of the Jochum/Hamburg Bruckner 8th.
The concluding Adagio was very long-breathed, with a coda of stunning power. I wondered why this CD issue just missed living up to the memory of that experience. Now I have the answer.
What we have here is something to cherish in its own right. Like the Westminster Vienna recording of the Mahler 7 conducted by Scherchen, this simply must be heard."