Author Topic: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle  (Read 360 times)

Offline erikwilson7

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« on: July 31, 2020, 06:12:32 PM »
I found very little discussion of the Edo de Waart recordings on here, so I wanted to start a discussion about them alone.

I recently exchanged emails with a former member of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. He played first violin in all of the Edo de Waart Mahler recordings in the cycle, and he had a spare new copy of the original CD box set so I bought it from him and it arrived from the Netherlands yesterday. I was finally able to hear these recordings for the first time and I am blown away.

This cycle goes right to the very top for me. Every single recording checks off every box for me, and the sound engineering is amazing. It reminds me of Chailly's (since they were both done in the Concertgebouw), but I think RCA did a better job than Decca did.

And, as a plus, they're all live with no audience noise! They all have that genuine adrenaline and spirit that live performances bring out. I am actively looking for anything I don't love about these recordings and I can hardly find anything.

This, in my opinion, rivals Bertini's cycle for the most consistently good. WHY, oh why, are the some of the finest Mahler cycles out of print and unavailable everywhere? Every Mahler collector needs to hear these recordings. I feel bad for the legacies of Edo de Waart and Gary Bertini being left in the dust. They should at least be put on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Idagio, etc. for streaming.

Here's my suggestion: anyone who can get ahold of these recordings needs to, and anyone who owns them should revisit them. Hearing them for the first time in 2020 and comparing them to all of the Mahler recordings we have now has been an interesting endeavor. These really hold up to the best even today, 25 years later.

And I would be interested in hearing criticism of these recordings if anyone has any.

Offline barryguerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 643
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2020, 12:06:15 AM »
We're kindred souls in many way. I wrote a big review for this set for the Japanese music magazine called "In Tune". What I said is exactly what you're saying, 20-something years later (almost 30, right?). An S.F. music critic for the "Chronicle" farmed it out to me. I can't remember his name now - shame on me. It was a review I was quite proud of. I've got run.

I agree on all points.

Barry
« Last Edit: August 01, 2020, 03:55:42 AM by barryguerrero »

Online James Meckley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2020, 12:58:57 AM »
I'm also very fond of these recordings and have often wished I could recommend them to students as an introductory set. Alas, they went out of print about six months after being released and have been unavailable ever since, except when they pop up occasionally on various file-sharing sites. I've been able to locate contemporaneous broadcast recordings of both DLvdE and the Adagio of 10 to "complete the set."

At one point I remember thinking that the multi-miking on M8 was rather too obvious, but that was when listening on some fairly sophisticated electrostatic headphones. I just rechecked on my nearfield monitors and it's nothing I can't live with. Overall, a very satisfying set musically, which is what really matters.
"We cannot see how any of his music can long survive him."
Henry Krehbiel, New York Tribune obituary of Gustav Mahler

Offline brunumb

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 137
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2020, 02:33:20 AM »
Do you think there is any chance that Sony might reissue this as a budget box set?

Offline erikwilson7

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2020, 03:27:23 AM »
I don’t know how record labels and copyrighting works, but I know these Edo de Waart recordings were originally released by RCA. It was re-issued in Europe (I think?) briefly under the Cobra (?) label as seen here: https://www.cdandlp.com/mahler-gustav/the-symphonies-edo-de-waart-netherlands-radio-philharmonic-orchestra/coffret-cd/r116962868/

I have a feeling someday it will be released to a wider audience in some format, be it CD or streaming. The recordings are just stuck in limbo for the moment, overshadowed by Zinman’s RCA cycle and the fact Edo de Waart isn’t a “big name” conductor. In other words, his name doesn’t sell. I guess that doesn’t really matter in this day and age though, and that’s an outdated way to do marketing. This is all my speculation. Perhaps RCA just doesn’t see the potential in releasing it again.

If Sony got their hands on the recordings I’m sure they’d release it as a budget box. That’s all they do nowadays with Mahler anyway, ha.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2020, 03:48:18 AM by erikwilson7 »

Offline barryguerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 643
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2020, 03:58:21 AM »
250 Euro - OUCH! The original RCA release was nowhere that expensive. I particularly like 5, 7 and 8 from this cycle. But as you pointed out, they're all good.

Offline erikwilson7

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2020, 04:06:14 AM »
Agreed, they're all good. The only ones that aren't top 10-worthy to me are 1 and 3, and they're still highly recommendable. The scherzo of 6 is maybe a little TOO slow and wuchtig. De Waart rivals Stenz and Bertini for best ending of 8. I love all the sounds of the deep bells in each recording.

Online James Meckley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2020, 04:34:04 AM »
250 Euro - OUCH! The original RCA release was nowhere that expensive.

And that's Cobra's discount price; their list price is an incredible €500,00! Cobra Records may be the problem here. Since Sony now owns RCA, it would be no problem for them to release the Edo de Waart set in one of their budget boxes unless they transferred the copyright to Cobra, either permanently or for a specific number of years.

I noticed that Marcel Kersten's review—to be found in the link that Erik posted above—is decidedly at odds with the encomiums posted here, to wit:

"Would that the interpretations were more interesting! De Waart has some good ideas on how these symphonies should sound, but they all sound too controlled and studio-bound. The lack of temperament makes the symphonies sound as if they were all made out of the same mould. This makes De Waart's cycle sound more 'coherent' than any other cycle I have heard. Whether Mahler intended this, is another matter. As often quoted by Mahler scholars, the composer was able to 'shed a skin' with each symphony; in De Waart's hands, the Tragic Sixth shares the same complexity as the lyrical Fourth. But even with this neutral approach, there are beautiful things to hear. Note the perfectly paced and atmospheric funeral march of the First, the grave and profound 'Urlicht' of the Second, the perfectly raucous finale to the Seventh and the excellent choral contributions to the Second, Third and Eighth and one is almost convinced that De Waart's Mahler passes for the real thing. The orchestra sports a wonderfully present firm horn section, excellent percussion, a forceful principal trumpet and boisterous timpani.

"Still, the lack of tension in the Fifth, despite excellent playing and a promising trumpet solo, is disconcerting. The opening march of the Sixth is measured but almost totally lacking in drama (and hardly redeems itself in the Finale). The otherwise impressive Eighth ensures a lot of impact at the expense of detail. The opening movement of the Second is almost completely faceless, the Adagio of the Ninth largely short of catharsis. It is evident Edo de Waart is most convincing in the fantasy soundscape of the Wunderhorn symphonies, but severely underplays the more emotionally charged symphonies. All these defects would go unnoticed if De Waart's cycle were the only one available. But since it isn't, it will never be a front-runner. My three stars are out of respect for De Waart's integrity and the orchestra's efforts, as well as the excellent sound quality. I really wanted Edo de Waart to succeed, but one can't elude the feeling that he simply hasn't lived long enough with these demanding works to make a thorough impression in an ever growing crowded field of Mahler recordings."

Chacun à son goût!
"We cannot see how any of his music can long survive him."
Henry Krehbiel, New York Tribune obituary of Gustav Mahler

Offline erikwilson7

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2020, 04:56:07 AM »
Ahh! I had no idea that Sony owns RCA now. Thanks James. Part of what I said before is no longer relevant. Now if Cobra owns the recordings—even temporarily—I wonder why they haven't uploaded them to a streaming platform to reach a wider audience.

Also, I wonder when Kersten's review was written. If it was a review of the 2004 Cobra re-issue, then I wonder what they would think of the current Mahler recordings we have: Stenz, Nott, Vänskä, the Fischers; recordings that a lot of us on here also cherish and were at times criticized for being too neutral or uninspired.

I digress. Either way, I agree with the notion that the "symphonies sound as if they were all made out of the same mould." They were, after all, all recorded live within 2.5 years. It really sounds like one long, coherent project which I, seemingly unlike Kersten, admire.

Offline waderice

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 602
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2020, 11:57:09 AM »
I was recently able to get a copy of de Waart's cycle from a seller at Discogs.com for around $90, inclusive of shipping.  Try there, for want of a lesser-expensive source, if you're still trying to get hold of a copy.

I've gotten through most of his cycle and have only yet to listen to M7 and M8.  I'm very impressed with the consistency of how well the recordings were engineered and how good the performances are.  Lower foundation bass is excellent.

I feel that where Bertini has it over de Waart is that he was able to include additional Mahler works that de Waart didn't.  But comparing both conductors' work where appropriate, they're both very competitive with each other.

de Waart is certainly still alive and well.  I heard him conduct a Der Rosenkavalier with Renee Fleming at the Met several years ago.  A very good performance.  I don't see why he doesn't or can't decide to record the other Mahler works he didn't include in his symphony box set.

Wade

Offline Vehemence

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 261
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2020, 01:12:34 PM »
This cycle has been sitting on my hard drive for years. Perhaps, it's time to take it for a spin! Sounds like it would be right up my alley.

Offline erikwilson7

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2020, 10:56:10 PM »
If you like consistent, no-nonsense, highly detailed Mahler then you’re in for a treat, my friend.

Offline barryguerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 643
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2020, 10:29:52 AM »
Blomstedt did little Mahler in S.F. However, he did make that very nice recording of M2 here. I've seen Mahler performances in S.F. by both DeWaart and Tilson-Thomas. In spite of all of the self-congratulatory hype for MTT and his Mahler, I liked many of Edo DeWaart's performances more. To me, the best performances DeWaart he did here are same ones that are, in my opinion, really good in the RCA box: M5, M7 and M8. I attended an Edo DeWaart M9 in S.F., but it was ruined for me by a noisy and restless audience. Therefore, it was difficult for me to evaluate. MTT gave an outstanding performance of M8 in 1991 - one that was vastly better than his recorded version from later on. Pity.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 09:14:05 PM by barryguerrero »

Offline erikwilson7

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2020, 05:34:12 PM »
I saw Edo de Waart do a very fine Mahler 9 in Milwaukee last April. The only thing I didn't like was the deep bells were played on tubular chimes, though that isn't really de Waart's fault. It was a tender, seamless, and emotional performance. By the end, as the audience stayed silent for about a minute, the concertmaster Frank Almond was in tears, as were some other members. Edo de Waart was chief conductor in Milwaukee for some years, and that orchestra knows how meaningful Mahler is to him.

Offline barryguerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 643
Re: The Edo de Waart/NRPO Mahler cycle
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2020, 08:29:53 PM »
Interesting. John Kim has great things to say about an M9 he saw DeWaart do. I believe it was in S.F. too. If it was the performance I saw, I just couldn't enjoy it because of the noisy and squirming pigs around me.

I've retired M9 from live performances because none will ever top the one I saw Ozawa do with the Saito Kinen Orch. in S.F. That audience was almost entirely Asian and they kept absolutely silent and still the entire time. That isn't going to happen twice. I doubt if any performance would be any better either.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 09:15:58 PM by barryguerrero »

 

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk