Symphony No.8 In E Flat - "Symphony Of A Thousand"
Symphony No.9 In D
Rafael Kubelik's Highly Chromatic, Poetic Mahler Recordings have Been Staples in Deutsche Grammophon's Catalogue Since their Inception. Tempos Overall Tend to Be Quicker Than the Norm (Symphony No. Eight for Instance Fits ... more »Conveniently on One CD), Yet Never at the Expense of Glossing Over the Composers Renowned Wealth of Inner Details. Many Mahler Aficionados Still Regard Kubelik's Readings Here of the Symphonies No. One and No. Seven as Reference Recordings. Distinguished Soloists Include Dietrich Fischer-dieskau, Edith Mathis, Norma Proctor, Franz Crass, and Julia Hamari. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra as Well as the Various Outstanding Choirs Employed Throughout the Cycle Couldn't Be More in Sync with Kubelik's Inspired Visionary Interpretations.« less
Rafael Kubelik's Highly Chromatic, Poetic Mahler Recordings have Been Staples in Deutsche Grammophon's Catalogue Since their Inception. Tempos Overall Tend to Be Quicker Than the Norm (Symphony No. Eight for Instance Fits Conveniently on One CD), Yet Never at the Expense of Glossing Over the Composers Renowned Wealth of Inner Details. Many Mahler Aficionados Still Regard Kubelik's Readings Here of the Symphonies No. One and No. Seven as Reference Recordings. Distinguished Soloists Include Dietrich Fischer-dieskau, Edith Mathis, Norma Proctor, Franz Crass, and Julia Hamari. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra as Well as the Various Outstanding Choirs Employed Throughout the Cycle Couldn't Be More in Sync with Kubelik's Inspired Visionary Interpretations.
Mahler reviews are fun!
Wayne A. | Belfast, Northern Ireland | 07/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK, you're just perhaps getting into Mahler or exploring a bit and you want some good recommendations. What you encounter on any given recording is rave reviews and trash reviews, all over the map, as they say.
Well, here's the terrible truth--and the Mahler fans'll be all over me on this one; punching furiously at "not helpful" in hopes of racking up a high score.
a) Although Mahler lived and composed around the turn of the last century his music didn't really catch on until the LP era. Yup, he's largely a stereo and music collector phenomenon. What happened is that with few exceptions there really wasn't even the beginnings of a solid critical assessment or performing tradition until--jeepers--the 1960s--50 years after the guy dropped dead. That's when people started to get an idea of what he was about, and plenty of conductors, like Bernstein, laid on their own very personal interpretations, tried to "own him" in sense. Not so oddly, everyone's Mahler came out sounding differently. Bernstein's Mahler sounded like Bernstein wrote it, Karajan's Mahler sounded like Richard Strauss wrote it, and Solti's Mahler sounded like Beethoven wrote it. Honestly, I don't think anyone was really all that sure about what it was supposed to sound like. Bruno Walter may have been the only conductor to truly own him, as he was Mahler's assistant, so his recordings are a good place to start and possibly a good standard to use. Unfortunately, I don't believe he recorded them all.
b)Responses to various performances seem to reflect different individual's personal relationships with various conductors more than anything. If you don't like George Solti you aren't going to like his Mahler no matter what and boyo that's for sure.
c)Mahler gave too detailed perfomance instructions on his scores which seem to confuse people more than anything. Gilbert Kaplan--some banker or something--is an amateur who took conducting lessons and became an expert on every tiny facet of Mahler's Second Symphony. Some find his recordings of it stunning. Maybe they are, but they sound too stunning for me, like the gal too beautiful to ask out. I like my Mahler down closer to me thanks very much which means I like performances that don't shine to Mahler's OCD. I seriously doubt even Mahler conducted the same piece precisely the same way twice, giving lie to his own presumptions on this matter. If I'm wrong that was quite an achievement on Mahler's part. Anyway, all that instruction makes for a confusing experience for a conductor who may "feel" the piece slightly differently and that creates a sort of performance cognitive disssonance--a tug of war of intentions--that often shows in many recordings.
d) Mahler was great, but inconsistent, and even today there's little consensus on when he was great or not so great. None of his music, interpreted by anyone, seems to leave a listener with the sense of wholeness and completion than one gets from, say, a mature work by Bach, Beethoven, or, above all, Mozart. You'll see endless rave reviews about how this or that conductor and orchestra finally makes this or that work hang together as a whole--not a good sign. What this tells me is that there may be no "perfect" Mahler performance (That's "NOT HELPFUL" over there on the right, just use the mouse and click) because there is no perfect Mahler symphony. (No, my email address is not included in my profile so don't bother checking, and I live in Greenland anyway, so put down the rope). My sense has always been that with the really big works, the ones describing the totality of the universe, the sum of all fears, infinity, nebular clusters, God, and so on, meaning nearly all of them, the man was just possibly overreaching a hair. His stuff's absolutely worth listening to but, at times, if you leave it feeling like you've just been lectured about your immortal soul by some wild-eyed guy with crazy hair don't be too concerned. If Mozart had ever met Mahler after hearing his music he would have shot him and gone to the electric chair believing he'd killed the Anti-Christ.
e) Because so much of Mahler is about death and resurrection or almost, his ardent fans tend to share the same, shall we say, metaphysical zeal, and frequently express it in periodic cat fights over the mystical significance and portentiousness of this or that work and other trivialities. Ardent Mahler fans are the last people to listen to (Forget it, no detective agency in the world can track me down!) for Mahler recommendations. It would be like walking into a cult and religion fair, walking up to the first booth (Mormons or Rastafarians maybe?) and politely asking the booth attendants which of these many fine religions represented here at the fair would they recommend? Before you know it you'd be sucked into a raging maelstrom, a black hole, never to be heard from again. You'll be listening to Boulez's Mahler with a pistol in hand and an eye on the door, or Bernstein, on a Walkman, in agony at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Life will never again contain a moment of happiness. You are trapped in Mahlerland, where every moment is pure Hell.
I recommend this set of Mahler's symphonies because Kubelik, more than anyone perhaps, plays the music well and wth feeling and atmosphere and makes Mahler's alternately hysterical and demanding ghost go cool his heels in the Green Room. His interpretations are less about Mahler and more about the music on the page. That's certainly why some don't like these recordings. When I want to rant, rave and then go foetal, I listen to Bernstein's Mahler because Lennie feels my pain; when I want my angst with elegance it's Karajan all the way, if I'm in Beatnik hep-cat mode I go with Boulez--"Ah, yes, emotion. Cool Daddy-o!" If I want a taste of old Vienna circa 1905 it's Bruno Walter. Basically go out and have fun with this often amazing music, meaning don't be a typical Mahler fan and don't be like Mahler--the un-fun-est composer who ever lived. Hopefully you'll end up with good entertaining handfuls of each major work and you'll be blissfully ignorant of which ones are the "right" ones."
Probably the best Mahler symphony box
L. Johan Modée | Earth | 07/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rafael Kubelik's interpretations of the Mahler symphonies with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks from the later sixties and early seventies are here collected in a fine box which is a real bargain. Some of the interpretations are among the finest available, e.g. symphonies nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 8. The orchestra was probably in its top form under Kubelik's baton, giving its very best, and the soloists are usually first rate.
In general, Kubelik's Mahler is clearly less sentimental and or broad than, for instance, Bernstein's or Abbado's. He presents Mahler's complex works without mannerism but with enthusiasm. This makes the music in each sound very crisp and straightforward, as if it were played for the first time. (This might annoy people that want to have their Mahler served with syrup.) But Kubelik has also a consistent grasp of Mahler's oeuvre as a whole, providing a very clear picture of the nine symphonies including the first movement of the unfinished tenth.
Even though the sound picture given these DG recordings is quite close and less spacious, the general HiFi quality is more than satisfactory.
In short, I think Kubelik's Mahler must be regarded as the first choice if you want a classic boxed set with these symphonies presented by a single conductor."
David Lee | Canada | 08/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is a sublime quality to these readings...the BRSO is not Berlin or NY but they seem to strive for goals and ideals far beyond the reaches of these groups. There is a sense of the mountains in this music...inspired majesty and an almost unbelievable passion to all of these readings!!
Sadly, few people ever get the chance to listen to Kubelik in this repetoire and time has been unkind to his memory. On an occassion I had the chance of working with Maestro Kubelik and can say he brought passion to every bar and phrase he ever conducted!!!
For me this is Mahler etched in stone...very well played and with alot of edge...not for those who expect refinement and cloying beauty...but instead pure water which flows to the ocean.....the Second is very well done with excellent brass and singing throughout...
The 5th is very cleanly played and without vulgarity...the 9th has a very slavic sound to the winds which I find very appealing.
The 1st and 4th are among the very finest versions ever done with some wonderful singing...the Finale of #4 is incredibly played with excellent lower brass and winds.
The 8th has some wonderful sonorities with excellent singing from Fischer-Dieskau....this is a very volatile performance and bear repeated listening...
The 3rd here is truly epic and the 1st movement is among the finest played ever.
Go for IT YOU Mahlerians!!!!!"
Michael B. Richman | 05/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I disagree forcefully with the reviewer who wrings his hands over the domestic DG release of Sinopoli vs. Kubelik. There is, simply put, enough complexity and depth in Mahler to admit more than one interpretation, and Kubelik occupies a different range of spectra from Sinopoli, a varied plenitude of voicings and hidden architectures. Guiseppe Sinopoli accomplished more in half a life than most mortals could achieve in three; it seems more like a neophyte listener reading early scathing reviews of G.S. and making up his mind, rather than basing a judgement on real authority. Kubelik paints large canvases with a broad brush, like Mahler, and those comparative few who record the full cycle have in common an epic sensibility and a Proustian attention span. Blessed as he is with a sense of the orchestra's organic unity, Kubelik strives for a condition of tension and release in constant equipoise with one another. Sensitivity, passion, psychological breadth and depth all emerge from these recordings, done slightly after Bernstein's landmark cycle (which may account for the more recent Sinopoli box's domestic release). Mahler, much like Shostakovich, aspires "somewhere beyond music," as Zander would say so eloquently; he invites an obsessive, almost hermeneutic scrutiny, and the more one probes, the more one is rewarded. The sprightly pacing of Symphony No. 6; the emphatic tempo changes realized in No. 5; and the briskness we find in "Titan" make for an intense journey. Kubelik and the Symphonieorchester Des Bayerishe Rundfunk belong in the first rank of Mahlerian interpreters.My advice is to buy both DG sets. Get the Bernstein too, while you're at it."