I have just taken delivery of a 2LP set of Claudio Abbado’s 1993 Berlin Philharmonic recording of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, beautifully pressed on 180 gm vinyl. A note on the back of the cover states that this is its first release on vinyl. Well done, Deutsche Grammophon, who seem to look after record lovers better than any other record label.
I will try to set aside time to listen to it tomorrow. I recently got a new double LP set of John Barbirolli’s classic EMI recording of the same symphony, so a back-to-back comparison is looming.
Speaking of Mahler. I, like some other people probably, have had a changing attitude to his art over the last few decades, on a scale from rapture, to chill, to rejection, and so on in a circular movement. The last few years are not so hot. And with the symphonies, different ones come to the fore in different years. Right now it’s probably the 5th and 7th. Curiously, in the mid-'70s, the 5th and 7th were the first ones I listened to often, LPs with versions by Vaclav Neumann. In recent months, renditions of the 5th by Haitink (the original Philips edition), Benjamin Zander, Michael Gielen seemed to be better fit to my perception.
I have long had a soft spot for Barbirolli’s Mahler - the Fifth, as mentioned above, and he was brave enough to go to Berlin in the 1960s, when Mahler was out of fashion, to record the Ninth with the Berlin Philharmonic - well before Karajan had his own late conversion to conducting (some) Mahler symphonies.
I got a new LP of Barbirolli’s famous Mahler Fifth a couple of weeks ago, which I haven’t played yet. Now EMI just need to be prodded to re-release Barbirolli’s (New Philharmonia?) Sixth and that Berlin Ninth on 180gm LPs.
I think that what you describe is perfectly normal.
I have always hugely enjoyed Mahler’s symphonies, with the exception of the Seventh. I have tried buying a number of different recordings (I probably have about four), but the Seventh has never ‘clicked’ with me.
I find that strange. Similarly, I have most Yes albums on LP, but ‘Tales Of Topographic Oceans’ has always eluded me.
I think that’s okay. I’ve probably outgrown Mahler, or rather all his decorative and expressive excesses. Tired with his lack of a compass, a clear plan and a desire to follow it rigorously, instead of tossing and turning between extremes. As I got older, I liked more introverted and less hysterical music. Less is more, as they say.
I liked Tales from Topographic Oceans, but listened less often than Close to the Edge or Relayer. With the release of Going for the One I lost interest in Yes almost completely, after the '70s listened only occasionally.
I don’t blame you for not liking ‘Going For The One’. That wasn’t really a Yes album at all - or, at least, the musicians who performed on that record were not the people that most of us associate with classic Yes line-ups.
Interesting. the 7th is also one I have trouble with. I don’t reach for it very often because it just hasn’t yet clicked with me. Maybe I need to try a different version (I have Solti on Decca, Kubelik on DG, Bernstein on DG).
Perhaps the reason is that the 7th is not an easy piece to perform attractively. It is an enigmatic work, both for the listener and the interpreter.
Of the mentioned conductors of the 7th, Kubelik is interesting, but on another recording, live on Audite. Solti leaves me indifferent, and my attitude toward Bernstein’s Mahler is… shall we say, complicated. Of the other recordings of the 7th, I would highlight those from Hans Zender, Adam Fischer, Osmo Vänskä, Michael Gielen, Juka-Pekka Saraste. Bruno Maderna’s recording is very interesting, but the sound quality is not so good. Kirill Petrenko with the Bayerisches Staatsorchester seems to be quite good, noticeably more interesting than his routinely weak recordings as conductor of the Berliners.
It seems to me that the comparison with Tchaikovsky may be only partly true. While Tchaikovsky is still quite within the tradition, Mahler has actively engaged in a deconstruction of both form and content. Then we will see it more explicitly with Schoenberg and so on. It’s no accident that someone called Mahler the first composer of the 20th century. Is this a praise, or a blame?
Curiously, I can hear Tchaikovsky’s influence in Sibelius, for example, in the Second Symphony. But Sibelius is pure and focused.
I went to a concert a few years ago in the Brighton Dome conducted by Adam Fischer, as part of the Brighton Festival, which I enjoyed. But for the life of me, I can’t remember the music played, or even which orchestra he conducted.
I have tickets to see Yuja Wang play at this year’s Festival, so I can see for myself what all the fuss is about. It can’t just be the low cut cocktail dresses and high heels, surely?
I have a Deutsche Grammophon CD of Ms Wang playing Rachmaninov and Prokofiev concertos with Gustavo Dudamel (aka The Dude) conducting the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, but I can’t play the wretched thing, as my CDS II needs to go back home to Naim HQ for repair.