Author Topic: The new BPO Mahler cycle may shape up to be the most consistent since Bertini's  (Read 802 times)

Offline erikwilson7

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 568
So far we've heard 1, 3, 6, 7, 9, and 10(adagio) from this set, and they've all been at least very good to excellent without a real weak link thus far (in my opinion, for what it's worth). If this trend continues through 2, 4, 5, and 8, we may have the most consistent Mahler cycle since Bertini's on our hands.

"The best" is totally subjective; I don't think there will ever be "the best" Mahler cycle. But consistency of quality is something that can certainly be judged from an objective standpoint.

Thoughts? What are some other very consistent cycles since Bertini's? Chailly comes close, as does Ádám Fischer's for the most part.

Vänskä's has so far been very consistent in its own way. They do all seem to sound cut from the same cloth.

EDIT: I think Stenz has a consistent vision as well. He offers relatively swift, objective, intelligently conducted readings in good sound. Sometimes the playing isn't up to par though.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2021, 08:54:11 PM by erikwilson7 »

Offline shawn

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Hi Erik, I used to think the De Waart cycle was among the most consistent cycles. Gorgeous sound, handsomely played, hardly any audience noise. I even like his renditions of the Ninth and Sixth, which are often mentioned as the weak links. Great ending to M8, sympathetic M7, great horns in M5.

Stenz, indeed, has one of the most consistent cycles of recent years, but maybe I'm alone in not being too enthousiastic about the sound of his orchestra. Adam Fischer is a clear winner, his orchestra sounds better than Stenz's, and I even think the recorded sound is better.

But, as you said, the Berlin recordings are thrilling. I too havent heard a dismal performance in the set. Haitink's maybe a tad too slow, but so was Bernstein's in Amsterdam, and many people nevertheless like that recording very much. Objectively speaking, the BPO set is well worth the outlay!

Shawn

Offline erikwilson7

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 568
So good to see you back on the board here, shawn.

I'm glad you brought up Edo de Waart's cycle too because that one is also very consistent. Part of that probably has to do with the fact that it was recorded live in one or two concert seasons, so you really get the feeling that it all flows from one to the next and they all have a similar vision. Was it this cycle that was also recorded in order? Or am I thinking of Zinman's? I think that's a cool concept.

I've also heard from a Dave Hurwitz video that M6 and M9 are the weak ones of this cycle, but I don't really understand that. I think they sound as good as the rest. What are the general criticisms of these two recordings? And if I were to pick any weak links in this cycle it would just be the First Symphony. And I still think it's very good!

I think this cycle contains one of the great M2s, M4s, M5s, and M8s. Totally underrated.

Gorgeous playing, very good sound (reminds me of Chailly's RCO recordings, also from the Concertgebouw), and smart conducting. Here's hoping this gets re-issued someday, or at least put on Spotify or something. It makes me sad to think that some recordings will simply disappear because the labels don't care anymore.

Offline shawn

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Thank you, Erik, unfortunately I've been ill for quite some time. One advantage: It gave me the opportunity to listen to a lot of music, including Mahler.

These are the years of the De Waart cycle:

1992: M2 and M5
1993: M1
1994: M8
1995: M3, M4, M6, M7, M9

Curiously, I think the M3 was not recorded in concert, at least that's how it's indicated in the booklet. But the sound is practically the same.

I share your enthusiasm. It's a shame RCA won't reissue this cycle, it is so underrated and they do not even have to remaster it.

If I want my Mahler to be conducted 'in one great gesture', I often come back to De Waart. But the new BPO-set also has a lot going for it.

Shawn

Offline barryguerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1094
After being on some Facebook Mahler site, it's nice to read an intelligent discourse on Mahler again. That place is brutal. Anyway, I agree with everything you both say here. I'm going to take John Kim's advice and wait to see if the Berlin Mahler set gets issued on to SACD/CD hybrids.

Offline erikwilson7

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 568
Barry, you're right about the Facebook Mahler group. It's totally hit or miss. Half the time it's fascinating historical tidbits, and the other half of the time it's folks gushing about how Solti and Bernstein were the kings of Mahler conducting. And whenever I say anything 'unusual' like "Ádám Fischer's Mahler Third is one for the ages" I get obliterated by Barbirolli and Tennstedt fanboys. I just don't understand the dynamic there.

Anyway, Shawn thanks for the info on the de Waart recording dates. I ought to dig that cycle out and give it a listen-through again. I remember the booklets including fabulous insight from Henry Louis de La Grange.

Offline John Kim

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2452
I think all of Bernstein, Haitink, Kubelik, Ozawa, de Waart, Chailly, and even Boulez sets are consistent.

But to me, mere 'consistent' is not enough for a Mahler cycle to be good. It has to be 'consistently idiomatic and Mahlerian'. For this reason, I normally don't settle for a set by a single conductor or by a single orchestra.

I've heard the BPO M1, M3, M6,7,9. I think I really like the 3rd and 9th. I eagerly wait for the Nelsons 2nd and Dudamel 5th.

John

Offline erikwilson7

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 568
John, I definitely agree with all the conductors you mentioned. Don't get me wrong about my earlier comment; Tennstedt, Bernstein, and Barbirolli are indeed great Mahler conductors. I just don't belong to the "old masters were the only ones who got Mahler right" school of thinking.

Bernstein's Columbia cycle is incredibly consistent, save for the Fifth (which is still pretty darn good). And I greatly admire Kubelík in 1-4, 8-9. I like to mix and match his DG and Audite recordings for the best Kubelík experience.

Offline John Kim

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2452
Erik

I agree on the early Bernstein cycle; the 5th is the only letdown in the set. The 3rd. 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and most of the 9th have seldom been surpassed.

John

Offline John Kim

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2452
Actually, I have hybrid SACDs of the Bernstein M1,3,6,7,9 from Japan and they all sound magnificent. But Sony's latest remastering on 12 CDs is awfully good too.

John

Offline ChrisH

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 329
Having only listened to the Dudamel M3, and the Harding M1, I feel like I must be missing something, or perhaps, need a little of whatever you are all smoking. These are also the first recordings I've encountered in the classical world, that sounded better on blue tooth ear buds, than my stereo.

Offline erikwilson7

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 568
Hm, and actually to your point I've only ever listened to these on headphones/earbuds. When I move to my new apartment I'll be able to really test these out on a speaker for the first time.

But from what I'm able to hear I've been not only impressed with the sound quality, but primarily the way these are all conducted and paced. They all seem just right to me, though Haitink's M9 is too slow for my taste but he still makes it sound excellent. It's the same duration as Chailly's Decca recording, but take a few minutes off the finale in put them into the first movement and third.

My complaint about this cycle so far is that the BPO is so good that sometimes it sounds like they're on autopilot, but that's a minor complaint. Maybe 'uninspired but beautiful playing' is a better term. That just goes to show how spoiled we all are these days for good-sounding Mahler. Also, the BPO percussionists need to stop being afraid of hitting that tam-tam! The fortissimo whacks at the end of the trombone solo and in the coda of the first movement of Dudamel's M3 are pretty quiet.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2021, 08:48:22 PM by erikwilson7 »

Offline ChrisH

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 329
In my room, on my stereo, it sounds as if the BPO percussion are sitting among the violins! It's all very scrunched together. There is also very little dynamic range in these recordings. No impact, either. Lot's of normalized volume.

 Anyway, I'm not saying these are bad performances, they are fine. It's just when I run through my collection of these symphonies, I don't feel these bring anything to the table that I can't get elsewhere, honestly. This comes across as a money grab by the BPO. I'd rather hear Dudamel do the 3rd with LA.

Offline erikwilson7

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 568
This just goes to show the huge difference between headphone and stereo listening. And you're right, this is nothing more than a cash grab from the BPO, but they definitely know how to market to collectors. Bruckner and Mahler? Say less.

They also did a John Adams box set, but frankly I don't think it was as successful.

Offline barryguerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1094
Of course it's a money grab. Nobody is issuing discs and such as a charity. I'll reserve judgement until I hear Rattle's B.P.O. M8 remake, and to find out how these sound on - hopefully - SACD/CD hybrid discs.
 
« Last Edit: July 02, 2021, 09:59:53 AM by barryguerrero »

 

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk