Author Topic: Vanska/MO/BIS Mahler 7th SACD to be released in June  (Read 1452 times)

Offline Thomass

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Re: Vanska/MO/BIS Mahler 7th SACD to be released in June
« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2020, 08:29:42 AM »
No offense meant in saying this, but exactly how you came to deduce that someone isn’t ‘going to care for a 70-something minutes long symphony’ from the fact that they’re critical of something that occurs in bar 19 is beyond me, but that’s neither here nor there. I've actually managed to sit through this recording in its entirety (all 70-something minutes of it) and only referred to bar 19 as one of the many examples of Vänskä’s bad taste. I, too, like how Vänskä takes the brief funereal dirge just before the coda (if you consider this movement to be in sonata form, which I do, however irregular) in a broad tempo. It’s one of the few instances where he actually does what Mahler asks.

As far as the central 'moonlit' passage is concerned, it just sounds completely four-square and devoid of any sensuality (of phantasmagoria, to use an Adornoian word) to me. Pretty, and gorgeously played perhaps (but not more so than on the Zinman recording or on any other recording by a decent provincial orchestra nowadays), but just listen to Bernstein, Tennstedt or Abbado (particularly his second, Berlin recording) if you want to hear how this music can, and should, sound, at what I consider the highlight of the movement (it’s where the long awaited appearance of the modified second subject in the dominant key finally occurs). And sure enough, there Vänskä goes again a few moments later, lingering on that high b in bar 354, two bars after 44 (even though there’s not even a fermata this time) and completely ignoring Mahler’s indication ‘a tempo.’ Another tasteless and rather stupid ‘interpretative touch’ by the conductor.

I could go on, even all the way beyond bar 19 of this 70-something minutes long symphony, but there’s really no point in going around in circles and getting into a detailed discussion; I'm glad you enjoyed this recording. I sure didn’t.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2020, 10:53:31 AM by Thomass »

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: Vanska/MO/BIS Mahler 7th SACD to be released in June
« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2020, 11:45:35 AM »
What he does in bar 354 doesn't bother me and, thus, doesn't strike me as tasteless. At the risk of putting words in Vanka's mouth, my guess is that he's deliberately interpreting the "a tempo" as coming after the dotted quarter note. Again, that's not an offensive enough tree to keep me from viewing the forest. That's just me.

I'm very familiar with the three recordings you list. Bernstein's first Mahler 7 is very good. I still prefer a slower approach to the first movement, but it's good. Tennstedt's first recording is decent, but is poorly recorded with almost zero bass - rather opaque sounding (whatever the reason, London orchestras often times sound thin in the bottom end). The second 'live' recording sounds much better, but I don't care for his use of slower tempi from start to finish. I like the M6 in that same three disc set, but not so much the 7th. Again, I prefer for M7 to sound like a gradual accelerando from beginning to end. That's what works for me.

I have a similar problem with Abbado as I do with Bernstein: the first movement is too fast for my liking and for my vision of the work. I greatly prefer the second, Berlin one, where Abbado shortens the fourth movement (2nd nocturne) by about a minute and a half. Also, the Berlin one has far better deep bells and cow bells at the end of the finale. Both his Chicago and Berlin ones are quite good, but I prefer the latter. At the time when Abbado's C.S.O. M7 came out, I liked it because there hadn't been a truly good M7 for a good while (as I recall), and it came with a billion extra tracks. Much has changed since this time.

You mentioned the Zinman recording - I do like that one quite a bit. I could easily swap out Zinman's first movement and plop it into the Vanska. I too feel he's excellent with the slower, 'moonlit' passage - maybe the best thing in that entire recording. From the second movement on, I have a slight preference for Vanska. In particular, Vanska's finale is more to my liking. Again, I like how when the big, bad ogre first subject of the first movement - in minor - reappears near the end of the finale, Vanska brings it in at a tempo that's a tad slower than normal. That works for me. Also, the Vanska recording is more 'full body' in the lower half of the audio spectrum. Still, I do like the Zinman. I was - and still am - a big defender of his cycle - something I took a lot of heat for over the years (not at this site). Like any Mahler cycle, it's not all equally good, but it's more consistent than most.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2020, 12:07:09 PM by barryguerrero »

Offline Thomass

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Re: Vanska/MO/BIS Mahler 7th SACD to be released in June
« Reply #32 on: June 07, 2020, 12:56:57 PM »
If Vänskä really deliberately interprets the 'a tempo' as coming after the dotted quarter note at bar 354, he's an even worse conductor than I thought. And as to your uncany ability to read things into posts that simply aren't there, I don't believe that taking Mahler's specific instructions seriously constituties an inability to see the forrest from the trees. But perhaps I'm doing the same thing, in which case I apologize for being overly sensitive.

I also quite like Zinman's cycle, incidentally, better to have no ideas at all than to have bad ideas, like Vänskä.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2020, 01:31:47 PM by Thomass »

Offline John Kim

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Re: Vanska/MO/BIS Mahler 7th SACD to be released in June
« Reply #33 on: June 07, 2020, 06:20:49 PM »
My lesson about Mahler:

Don't be hung up too much on the score. Whatever approach makes sense, it works!

After all, Mahler said:

"What is best in music is not to be found in the notes."

Offline Thomass

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Re: Vanska/MO/BIS Mahler 7th SACD to be released in June
« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2020, 08:20:45 PM »
If criticizing a conductor for taking an excessively long pause on the exact note where Mahler tells the conductor that the fermata on that note in no way means a pause, then I’m gladly “hung up on the score.”

And yes, he did say that the best in music is not to be found in the notes, but my assumption is that he didn’t follow that sentence with “so go ahead and completely ignore my wishes at exactly those places in the score where I meticulously tell performers what to, and more often what not, to do.” According to Bruno Walter, what Mahler (probably) meant was that the essence of music is not set down in the notes but lies in what it is trying to express. Walter also said that, according to Mahler, this essence became apparent through the act of conducting, in which Mahler showed a remarkable combination of exactitude and spontaneity (he even re-orchestrated certain passages, as was common practice at the time). Incidentally, accounts of Mahler’s conducting style are rather contradictory, some critics found him too personal, whereas certain other critics in New York derided him for his “too formal” conducting of Tristan (which gives lie to the rather facile notion, as was suggested in an earlier post, that it’s okay for conductors to do whatever they want just because Mahler took liberties as well; it’s impossible to say anything definitive about Mahler’s conducting style since, unlike in the case of Strauss or Elgar, there is no aural evidence of him conducting)

In any case, again according to Walter, however spontaneous, Mahler’s approach was always “governed by the most rigorous exactitude” and, even though the only thing I know with any certainty is that I could not even begin to fathom what may have gone on in the mind of one of the greatest composers who ever lived, I’m pretty sure Mahler’s oft (mis)quoted phrase is not an invitation “not to be hung up on the score.”
« Last Edit: June 07, 2020, 08:23:47 PM by Thomass »

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: Vanska/MO/BIS Mahler 7th SACD to be released in June
« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2020, 08:22:19 PM »
Not only that, let's take down the temperature a bit. I'm not singling anybody out - I'm as guilty of any rhetoric as anyone. At a time in our nation where so much truly serious stuff is going on, does any of this really matter? Even in the slightest?    .    .    .   Let's face it, at most, there may be about 500 people in the entire nation who take any interest in this debate - maybe more, maybe less. A very small percentage of the populace. That being the case, this is nothing for anyone - myself included - to get steamed up about.

I only jumped in to this because I was, more or less, asked for my opinion. I've given it! I've had my say, and my say is NOT in an effort to persuade others. When it comes to Mahler, I'm no longer concerned - or even interested - in popular consensus. If somebody feels that Vanska is a poor conductor, they're not alone! They're in good company. My good friend Dave Hurwitz has been on that band-wagen for while now. We're still good friends. Regardless, I don't care. I'm only stating what works for me, and WHY it works for me. At least I've offered the WHY of it.

The Vanska M7 works for me and I like it. If it doesn't for others, fair enough. That's why we have choices. Live and let live.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2020, 08:31:24 PM by barryguerrero »

Offline Thomass

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Re: Vanska/MO/BIS Mahler 7th SACD to be released in June
« Reply #36 on: June 07, 2020, 08:29:43 PM »
At least I've offered the WHY of it.

So have I, numerous times. As far as the rest of your post is concerned, I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly.

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: Vanska/MO/BIS Mahler 7th SACD to be released in June
« Reply #37 on: June 07, 2020, 08:36:09 PM »
Yes, and I would like to clarify one other thing. In spite of naming the Vanska M7 my new favorite, it's not soooo good that I'm removing other recordings from my collection. I like the variety and I like different points of reference. I still think Markus Stenz, for example, has the most 'fun' and exciting finale of anybody. I love Adam Fischer for his fourth movement (2nd Nachtmusik). It's just that for me - as Erik also stated - Vanska 'clicks off' more boxes than the others. Still ,     .     .    .  (I don't want to get redundant)

 

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