Author Topic: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8  (Read 695 times)

Offline barryguerrero

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quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« on: August 24, 2021, 06:01:37 PM »
I had my domestic partner out of the house today, so I could thoroughly enjoy listening to a full Mahler symphony. I'm happy to report that Rattle's Berlin Phil. M8 is possibly the best sung M8 since the Kubelik. Both the baritone and bass-baritone solos near the start of Part II are equally well done. Once again, tenor Johan Botha doesn't disappoint. He's possibly the best tenor ever to have taken on M8 - what a loss his passing away has been. This is now his third M8 recording - the other two being the Boulez/DG one, and the one he made in Vienna's Konzerthaus with Bertrand DeBilly conducting (Oehms). But I think he's put to best use on this recording. The children's chorus is particularly good and always audible. The women are fine and nicely balanced throughout the 'Three Penitent Women' section. The build-up and climax of the "Blicket auf" passage is wonderfully done. Equally wonderful, is the passage for high strings, harp and harmonium (chamber organ), located right after the first tenor solo (and not taken too slowly either, a la MTT). The whole thing has a wonderful, 'organic' quality about it.

I'm also happy to say that Rattle's conducting is pretty much spot on throughout the performance - his only eccentricity being the fast tempo he takes near the end of the symphony, just after the unison choirs cut out (Rattle always has to have one gimmick in all of his Mahler performances, for the most part). For all the flack that Rattle has taken over the years, there's one aspect to his conducting I've always admired:  Rattle understands that when you employ a lot of unsolicited (not indicated) slow-downs, you need to put in an equal number of speed-ups to balance things out. In that sense, he's like a good Chopin pianist who likes and knows how to use plenty of rubato.

All in all, this had to have been one of the truly great live performances of M8 ever. For me, it certainly blows the Abbado/B.P.O. one right out of the water. If there's any drawback, it's that the dynamic range is a tad limited for a such a huge work. Turn it up too much, and peaks can sound a tiny tad distorted (or under pressure). Also, as is sometimes the criticism of the Berlin Phil., the Philharmonie swallows some of the high frequencies emanating from the players. However, trumpets do cut through where needed. High woodwinds are very good.

As I listened to this, I couldn't help but thinking, "this is as though Bernstein were conducting M8 in Berlin with a really good cast of singers" - the biggest difference being Rattle's unusual but effective treatment of the symphony's closing page. This exceeded my best expectations, and avoided my worry that Rattle might have introduced other eccentricities into the narrative.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2021, 06:07:15 PM by barryguerrero »

Offline erikwilson7

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Re: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2021, 06:12:01 PM »
A wonderful review, thank you. I'm very much looking forward to this digital release now.

More than ever I'm tempted to splurge on the BPO box set...

EDIT: wow, this was by chance the 20,000th post on this forum.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2021, 06:41:13 PM by erikwilson7 »

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2021, 06:47:18 PM »
I'd rather write a review for one person who appreciates it - like you, Eric - than a boat load of dopes at these Facebook sites. They always lose the 'forest from the trees' in their endless back and forth patter over nothing. It's days like today that make me glad to be a Mahler buff all over again. Maybe the Jurowski/L.P.O. M8 will do that for me too.

I know you guys are waiting to hear about the Dudamel/BPO M5, so I'll tackle that one next.

If this set needed anything, it's a  good "DLvdE" to sandwich between the extremes of Rattle's celebratory M8, and Haitink's elegiac M9. 
« Last Edit: August 24, 2021, 06:51:12 PM by barryguerrero »

Offline erikwilson7

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Re: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2021, 07:16:55 PM »
than a boat load of dopes at these Facebook sites. They always lose the 'forest from the trees' in their endless back and forth patter over nothing. 

I'm in the Facebook Mahler "Group" and the more exclusive "Forum." In both groups, if you created a poll of "best Mahler conductors" it would probably be a three-way tie between Bernstein, Abbado, and Solti. Any time I mention folks like Markus Stenz or even Michael Gielen I get dismissive remarks. I just don't get it. Especially about Solti.

If this set needed anything, it's a  good "DLvdE" to sandwich between the extremes of Rattle's celebratory M8, and Haitink's elegiac M9. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's a shame they didn't include Abbado's excellent Das Lied from 2011. That would have been a perfect addition to the set. There are a couple of previews on YouTube, and I have an audio .flac rip of the performance and a video file of it. If anyone is interested, reach out to me via message. It may make a good addendum to your BPO set if you burn them to blank CDs and DVDs. The first half of the program is the Mahler 10 Adagio included in the BPO set...
« Last Edit: August 24, 2021, 07:32:22 PM by erikwilson7 »

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2021, 07:47:00 PM »
Interesting. Maybe it's a tug of war between DG and the B.P.O. Maybe DG wants to put it out, but everyone is demanding too high of a price (?). Perhaps one of the singers could be holding it up. Who knows!

As for the FB Mahler groups, I'm just not going to make time for that nonsense any more. I'm sorry I got involved at all.

Offline erikwilson7

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Re: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2021, 03:18:21 PM »
I got a chance to listen to this as it's on Spotify now. You're right Barry, this might have the finest singing since Kubelík (though let's not forget Solti's and Chailly's wonderful casts, about just as fine).

Rattle conducts this a lot more coherently than his Birmingham effort. In context, his fließend at the very end sounds appropriate, giving the moment some exciting momentum; I only think this works because he then slows down so much for the last several measures, matching Bertini's tempo. It sounds natural, in other words.

Sound quality is mostly good, just like Barry said. If I were rating this Classics Today style, I would probably give it a 9/9 (artistic quality/sound quality). Overall, I find this to be a very good M8.

Rattle is full of surprises sometimes.

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2021, 02:32:29 AM »
For me, I'd say 10/9 or 10/8, based upon the quality of the vocal cast. Not much difference between us.

Offline sbugala

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Re: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2021, 01:55:38 PM »
I had some Amazon credits built up, so I “bought” the downloaded.

I’m thoroughly impressed. I think the “waves” of sound at the end are sufficiently cosmic. Like Barry said, it blows the routine Abbado performance out of the water.

I also like the choirs. Rattle keeps things flowing, and avoids those separate choirs from sounding episodic.

I may have to burn this to disc to see if it sounds better in the car.


I’m very frugal, so I’ve liked that the tracks on other BPO releases are generally cheap and good. This one was more expensive…and worth every “penny.” Great stuff.

Offline ChrisH

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Re: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2021, 11:25:00 PM »
I was planning on putting some words down about this recording. Picked it up after getting back from a shortened vacation. Thought I would give this cycle another try. Hit the play button, and guess what. Dead amps. 3 stereo amps, dead. I will play Bernsteins adagietto for them.

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2021, 11:47:41 PM »
Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Good luck on getting it straightened out.

Offline erikwilson7

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Re: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2021, 06:42:48 PM »
That's rough, Chris. Sorry to hear that. I remember you saying you weren't too fond of this set, but maybe this M8 could be a game-changer. After further analysis I do agree that the sound quality is a bit compressed in some of these recordings, namely the Harding M1.

Offline ChrisH

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Re: quick report on the full Rattle/B.P.O. M8
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2021, 01:00:54 PM »
It looks like I'm going to be down for a little while. With all the shipping craziness and shortages of parts, I could be down for a few months. But, that has led to designing some new speaker cabinets, and trying to get that figured out. In the end, it'll be a nice project, and I should have some cabinets that the wife is more attuned too.

I'll give this a spin through the headphones some time soon.

 

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