Horenstein conducting Mahler 6th: The soul & meaning in the
H. Granot | Ein Dor, Israel | 09/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
Couples of years ago I've read a few passages On the net about performance made in the UK by the great conductor Jescha Horenstein on Gustav Mahler masterpiece sixth Symphony. At that time I've started hearing Horenstein's recordings on Mahler and I thought to my self it must be a great one. Fortunately the performance was never on CD or record. It was however as I've heard in the BBC archives waiting to be revived for the audience. I hoped BBC Legends label will get it out of the archive like they did with Horenstein's Mahler 7th, 8th, 9th and Das Lied Von Der Erde. Now after years of waiting the performance was finally released by BBC Legends.
First I must say the passages I'm writing are according to my own personal taste and view on Horenstein's performance. I believe no one see Mahler 6th in the same manner (that to say on any classical work), since then one will prefer his recording according to his taste, in interpretation and Orchestral playing and even sound. Every aspect is to change one thought about the work and the performance. We must also understand that we don't have one ultimate view on any classical work. There is no one ideal model. That may only lies in the Composer musical score. Every recording represent new way of hearing the work.
Follow the years I've heard many recordings on Mahler 6th. I remember starting from Bernstein DG recording, then Tennstedt, Boulez, Szell, T. Sanderling and Barbirolli on EMI. Every recording has its own highlights. Of the recordings mentioned I can say the two which I liked the most are the Szell one and Barbirolli. Two recording which are so different from each other but both have their impact. I'm still looking forward hearing many other recording on Mahler 6th but until then I know I have one recording which to my belief stand among the finest.
Horenstein performance was recorded live in concert that took place in Winter Gardens, Bournemouth, 10 January 1969. This performance was made with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. First of all I must say the sound is in good form, nothing to complain about. I can't really say what is so great in Horenstein's performance; this is something every listener should experience for himself. However I will tell as a whole why I believe his performance is so great.
Horenstein is always aware to the drama in the symphony. He is able finding the tragic soul which is in Mahler notes and markings. The lonely tragic soul seeking for meaning and comfort in life could be sensed in every moment. Horenstein grasp a unique and masterly interpretation. He keeps the balance between the heart and mind throughout the whole journey. The music never sounds too sentimental and on the other hand never cold. There is however something clinical in Horenstein interpretation. We experience the music, in some kind, as observers. Without being too much involved, never aphetic. It is like hearing distant sounds of a massive battle going on between forces. The lonely soldier as been separate from his force and he is now marching forward, getting closer and closer to the place where the battle take place. To some, such interpretation will not do it; it is all question of personal taste as I've already said earlier.
It is in Horenstein hands that I truly felt one time experience. It is only near the end of the performance when it is made clear where Horenstein was aiming from the beginning. At that time it can be felt you've been told a story by a master teller. The teller vision is truly revealed and you fell like being taken under a spell, hypnotized to the very last moment.
The playing of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is also truly great. Horenstein draws from the orchestra dark colors to match his vision on the work. Throughout the performance you can hear many orchestral details. This aspect is mostly heard in the last movement. Horenstein take the movement slowly and shapes every moment with patient and space bringing from the score many details.
For conclusion I must say hearing Horenstein performance was almost like hearing the symphony for the first time. His performance is unique in the growing discography of Mahler masterpiece. Here, I believe we have the evidence of conductor was able capturing the meaning behind the notes, the very naked soul of the music. Horenstein, in is own way found his own meaning in Mahler music.
I recommended this CD for every one who interested in Mahler music. This is for me one of the finest recordings ever made on this symphony or on any other Mahler Symphony. The CD also contains a fine bonus: Rossini's Semiramide Overture and superb Nielsen 5th.
Thank you, BBC and IMG Artists !!!
Peter Zubulake | 07/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This very generous 2 cd set contains a very good Mahler 6th and possibly even better Nielsen 5th, as well as a nicely played Rossini overture, all conducted by Jascha Horenstein. What is somewhat unusual in the case of the Mahler and Nielsen is that there are previously issued recordings of both pieces with which to compare these newly issued performances. There was and is a Mahler 6th with the Stockholm Philharmonic and a Nielsen 5th with the New Philharmonia Orchestra (the very same orchestra here), both on the British Unicorn label. To make a long story short, I believe that the BBC recordings are both better than the Unicorn recordings, although it should be said that the sound quality on the Unicorn releases is better than the BBC. Although I have heard technically better performances of the Mahler 6th, Horenstein's way with this work remains utterly convincing. With the Nielsen 5th, there are no such reservations. The New Philharmonia give of their very best, and this results in a performance that can hold its own against any. I should mention that the second cd also contains an interview with Horenstein in which he talks about the Nielsen 5th specifically."
Tom Gossard | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally, a conductor who gets it all! Essentially I am in agreement with the views of the other two reviewer. This is a fine recording of two Horenstein live concerts featuring composers he was best known for: Mahler and Nielsen. The respective orchestras seemingly play their hearts out, and though neither's playing is note-perfect or as polished as some would prefer to hear - these after all are live performances and Horenstein as usual demands of them what could scarcely be achieved from a normal set of rehearsals - the heart and drama of the music are fully realized.
At the time of release of Sir John Barbirolli's recording of the Mahler Sixth, he reportedly said something to the effect that in Mahler's symphonies "there are many high points but only one true climax." His reading was exemplary in this regard, and so is Horenstein's. Both attain their climax in the last movement where a succession of dramatic peak moments culminates just prior to the third hammer blow, when a final heroic (and tragic) abandonment of self is abruptly and finally hacked down by a last intervention of fate, thereafter leaving hopes and desires to languish and wither. The final tattoo sounded by percussion and brass brings the march rhythm of the opening bars of the symphony to its conclusion, fading to the dead silence from whence it came.
Of the many interpretations of this symphony over the years, only Barbirolli's and even more so Horenstein's rightly get the undying, unrelenting tread of the march figure that underpins and supports drama enfolding across the entire span of the work. It is possible both to hear and feel the pulse throughout, actually and implicitly. No matter how many gorgeous details and theatrical turns a conductor might illuminate along the way, if the pulse is forgotten and missing too often or to too great a degree by pausing to more fully take in the view at any moment, the very structure and stature of performances weakens and diminishes. To be crude but truthful, 'it's the march, stupid.' If you don't get it, you lose it.
There is so much more to be said than can possibly be told in one person's review, I do not pretend to be an expert in Mahler or conducting or interpretation. I've had many years experience listening critically to many performances and points of view. Many are as valid and satisfying as this one in one or other respects. Thank goodness we have so many available to choose from among. Barbirolli's and Horenstein's, on the other hand, do us the great favor of revealing the full stature of this symphony, which towers even among the most famous and highly regarded symphonies in the Mahler canon. Here the composer first shows his full hand rhythmically, thematically, and harmonically in the clear terms he will resort to only once again in his Ninth Symphony. It's all here for us to listen and ponder, thanks most to Barbirolli and Horenstein with the Bournemouth Symphony and New Philharmonia. If you treasure Mahler's Sixth Symphony, by all means add these recordings to your collection. My highest possible recommendations."