Author Topic: "In memoriam: Michael Gielen" release of two M6's coming 9 August, 2019  (Read 449 times)

Offline erikwilson7

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The SWR Music label is releasing a Michael Gielen memorial disc of two Sixths, not including his 1999 release we know and appreciate.

https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8649086--in-memoriam-michael-gielen

"Recorded 42 years apart, these two performances of Mahlers Sixth Symphony are highly contrasted in terms of tempo, sense of structure and interpretation. It is certainly appropriate to commemorate Michael Gielen with these two recordings of the work he performed most often recordings that represent the opposite poles of Gielens Mahler interpretations. For the first time ever on disc, this edition includes the 1971 recording of Mahlers Symphony No. 6 in its original sound quality."

1971 recording:
I. 21:04
II(S). 12:02
III(A). 13:15
IV. 27:36
Total: 74:10

2013 recording:
I. 27:45 (!)
II(A). 15:31
III(S). 16:09 (?!)
IV. 34:40
Total: 94:25

Has anyone somehow heard the 1971 recording before? And what are some thoughts on the 2013 recording? The timings for the latter make it seem like an extremely broad Sixth, and the 1971 recording seems quite fleet. Gielen had a certain affinity for the Sixth, and the piece came naturally to him with this orchestra. Indeed his 1999 M6 is one of the finer accounts out there.

Erik

Offline shawn

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Hello Erik, this is an interesting contrast! I'm really tempted  8)

20 minutes difference... shades of Klemperer?  :D

Offline erikwilson7

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I listened to parts of the 2013 recording on YouTube. It has excellent engineering quality, but the tempos sound drudgingly slow out of context. I do not tend to like slower recordings (à la Bernstein, Tennstedt LPO M2, or Klemperer M7), but maybe I just need to give this 2013 Gielen M6 a full listen in context to be able to fully appreciate it.

The absurdly broad scherzo actually sounded menacing and truly “massive” like the symphony’s opening, and I am surprised that the Andante moderato is not much longer than it is here at 15:31. At least Gielen is paying attention to the tempo relations in context to one another. After all, it isn’t an adagio! Gielen also makes a feast out of the ”ma non troppo” indication of the first movement Allegro energico; I don’t think I’ve ever heard it played any slower than this. I’m looking forward to giving this account a full listen, however, despite any reservations I have for slow interpretations.

Erik

Offline shawn

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Hello Erik, thanks for the preliminary listening!  :D I'm very interested in this interpretation. Chailly (Decca) takes 25:30 for the first movement. Is it musically possible to extend that?  :o I don't mind slow as such, as long as there is contrast. Chailly's Alma theme is just as slow (or indeed: even slower) than the opening march. It's basically the same tempo. How does Gielen handle this in your view?

You mention Bernstein as a slower performer. Indeed, especially in later life, he was noticeably slower. But there is slow, and there is mega slow  :D. Bernstein's DG Vienna 6th takes 86 minutes and 40 seconds. His Sony account takes 77 minutes and 40 seconds. DG may be lengthier, but it doesn't harm the overall structure (as in Klemperer 7!), and Bernstein pours so much emotion in it, that it doesn't, at least to me, sound like slow. The proportions are solid as a house. In his Pathétique finale and Adagio from Mahler 9th (RCO), I do feel he goes overboard, especially as the preceding movements are more or less within 'the norm'.

This is my personal perception, and this is not my way of imposing it upon you, I just think slowness is very relative. There are recordings that are inimitably slow, but carry so much conviction that it ameliorates the slow pace  :D I'm sure Gielen isn't falling short on the conviction part!

Offline erikwilson7

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Shawn,

From the parts I listened to in the 2013 Gielen recording it doesn't seem like there is much contrast. The entire movement is just consistently slow, which is how he's able to achieve a duration of nearly 28 minutes! I think Chailly pulls off the slow tempo just barely, but it's constantly encroaching the brink of being too slow. This is just my opinion, however. I actually do like Chailly's Decca recording. I believe the only place in the first movement that should be notably slower is the soft "oasis" section of the development. Currentzis does that exceptionally well in his recent recording (a release that I found to be well-played but awfully recorded).

If you like slow tempi with intelligent contrast you may like Osmo Vänskä's recent recording with the Minnesotans. His march tempi are quite slow (like Barbirolli, Chailly, Boulez, etc.), but his Alma themes just a bit more urgent. He also zips through the coda, which manages to work if you switch the inner movements so the scherzo is second (as Barry has said before, and which I wholly agree with).

For the most part I agree with your comment that Bernstein's DG Sixth is excellently paced and crafted, even if on the slower side of the norm. I find that recording to be one of Bernstein's best Mahler readings on disc. When I think of Bernstein being to slow his DG accounts of the Second and Third come to mind. Overall I find his DG M3 to be superb, with a slightly too slow "Mitternachtslied" and far too broad a finale. He wallows a bit much, to me. I prefer that movement around 21–23 minutes—like the Fischer brothers and Chailly—instead of 28 minutes. His Second with DG is just too slow for me, but I understand the appeal; it's very movingly performed and conducted. Like you said, slowness is relative and I definitely agree with that. The great thing about Mahler's music is that it's all about how everything fits together as a whole, not just a particular moment being "too slow" or "too fast."

Erik
« Last Edit: July 03, 2019, 01:03:34 PM by erikwilson7 »

Offline barryguerrero

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I'm spending the big bucks to get the P. Jarvi/NHK S.O. M6. I should have my head examined, as I don't really need it. My interest is piqued, because their performance of it in Royal Albert Hall received high praise from the London press. Jarvi's timings are very similar to Boulez's, which is near ideal for me. Japanese orchestras really pay attention to percussion as well.

Offline erikwilson7

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Barry, I can certainly confirm your comment about Japanese musicians paying particular attention to percussion. I toured Japan with my college wind orchestra back in 2017, and we played alongside Sakuyo and Hiroshima university students. Percussion is a huge deal for them, and I felt right at home with that. Even Japanese high school students were as talented as us musically developed American undergrads.

Anyway, I haven’t paid much attention to any of Paavo Järvi’s Mahler recordings. By the sound of it I ought to check them out.

Erik
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 06:12:21 PM by erikwilson7 »

Offline barryguerrero

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It's funny: I really like the Vanska/Minnesota/BIS one for the inner two movements, but far less so for the two outer movements. I like his first movement, except that the coda doesn't work for me. It seems he's trying too hard to portray it as a Shostakovich- like, 'false' happy ending.

As I've mentioned before, my solution would be to make the first note of the scherzo movement - the solo timpani 'thwack' - be the last note of the first movement. It would be as though our imaginary hero is about to score the winning touchdown at the last second, only to fumble the ball at the one-yard line and have the opposing team run with it the other direction. You'd have a sudden and stark switch from A-major to A-minor (one of M6's main mottos).

Offline erikwilson7

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Re: "In memoriam: Michael Gielen" release of two M6's coming 9 August, 2019
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2019, 09:45:03 PM »
I just finished listening to the live 2013 account for the first time. It's very slow, but it might be one of the most dramatic and traumatizing Mahler Sixths I've ever listened to. One of those few Sixths out there that will leave you completely drained by the end, like Bernstein DG or Gielen's other great recording. A very silent and respectful audience too!

I'm seldom an advocate for A/S order, but Gielen pulls it off here. With such a slow and convincingly victorious coda to the first movement, it makes sense here to follow it with a moderately paced Andante. If it were any longer than the 15 minutes I might be doubtful, but it works. That scherzo is terrifying. Truly wuchtig. The finale is the real deal; one of the most tragic ever. And that's saying something when comparing this Gielen recording to one of his own, another truly tragic recording.

I'd highly recommend giving it a listen on Spotify, or some other source. The 1971 recording it's paired with doesn't seem like anything particularly noteworthy unless you're a Michael Gielen connoisseur.

 

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