Author Topic: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?  (Read 27398 times)

Offline barry guerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3928
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #30 on: May 23, 2008, 10:28:33 AM »
I'm not too crazy over Kubelik in this particular instance (M3), but I sure agree about Litton/Dallas (I wrote the 10/10 review of it @ Classicstoday). It's also easy to find cheap now at Amazon, etc.

Offline Leo K

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
  • You're the best Angie
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #31 on: May 23, 2008, 01:37:56 PM »
John H,

Here is a review (I repost below) on a real sleeper M3 that I really treasure:

Rogner/BRSO/Berlin Classics


I discovered this yesterday and found this little known CD to hold one of the most fantastic renderings of the M3 I ever heard.  The sound quality isn't the most optimum in every case, but I could still hear details of the score I never heard on other CD's...the percussion here is simply incredible...the tam tam, snare and the timpani are better heard...(I am tempted to claim)...than any SACD's of this work, it is really a treat.  To clearly hear the tam tam makes a HUGE difference in this work...it is so important it is almost a deal breaker for me.  It is why I like Abbado/VPO or Zinman's recent account.  The brass, especially the trumpets break through with stunning clarity.  The first movment is like Abbado/VPO or Zinman's recent but even more fun, wild and loud..almost out of control.  The trombone solo is a cross between the Haitink/RCO Kerst matinee and Kobayashi Exton accounts...in other words, grand and epic but with much character in the tone and breath.  The second and third movements have slightly more character than Horenstein, with a real flow and "prickly" quality...more rough and rambunctious than usual (again, the orchestral detail is colorful and clearly heard).  The third movement uses a "posthorn" that sounds more like a muted coronet than a trumpet...I'm not sure exactly what they're using here, but it's interesting and much better than Horenstein's flugelhorn.  The oboe in the "Oh Mensch" is quirky but haunting...the slides are slowed down so the "middle" note in the slide is heard longer...quite unothodox, but yet appealing in it's rough-out-of-tune quality and sounding like a bird like no other performance I've yet heard.  The Contralo is heavy but there is no excess in vibrato...she is quite good...almost like Petra Lang but with more nuance in the phrasing.

The sound picture reminds me of the Kondrashin M7 on Tahra...as if we are seated in the middle in the hall, not too far to miss Mahler's intended "blend" that results when seated where everything can be heard correctly.  The BRSO give all they've got, which makes up for any lack of refinement heard elsewhere...the work is even all the better for the enthusiastic agression the orchestra uses.

The final two movements don't quite live up to what was heard previously, but they are not bad by any means, there is just not as many musical discoveries as the rest, but the strings are actually quite good in the Adagio...which is very slow until Rogner rushes too much towards the finish.  At least the brass has character, such as the wonderful trombones.  But still, this is a keeper!  Don't hesitate to buy if you see it in the used bin!

--Todd

Offline Leo K

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
  • You're the best Angie
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #32 on: May 23, 2008, 01:52:45 PM »
Oh, and I want to place an honorable mention to the Abbado/VPO/DG M3 from the early '80s.

Barry will disagree (and I understand his disagreements), but I really believe this is a very impressive M3, and it may even become my top choice, the last three movements are so rich and devotional, radiant with peace, mystery and joy.  I resisted buying the Abbado VPO M3 for years, because the opinions I had read complained about certain aspects of sound, or the slowness of the finale.  But I finally found a decently priced used copy and discovered this M3 to be incredible, and it has a unique sound too (not an audiophile experience, but a pleasing recording full of great detail). 

The first movement is among the wildest and most confrontational I've ever heard (the Rogner is another)!  It soars, it growls and swirls, and then the enchanted quieter moments are captured with presence and atmosphere in the interesting production (not to everyones taste obviously)...indeed it is one of my favorite Mahler recordings in my whole collection. I like the sudden turn into spirituality during the last three movements, more obvious than I'm used to hearing in this work, outlined in the tempos and soaring transparency in the execution of the VPO, especially in the strings.  In particular I love the final chord, which seems to hang on forever, but I love the whole way the ending is played...it is not like other recordings, it is more reflective than I'm used to...which is wonderful and fits the concept of the whole performance.  Bravo to Jesse Norman for such profound singing here, I really want to hear her in Ozawa's M3 one of these days (I hear she is on that recording as well).

--Todd

Offline barry guerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3928
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #33 on: May 23, 2008, 04:34:59 PM »
Yep, I disagree. I don't think that the overly quiet, overly mushy-sounding timpani at the end of the symphony contribute anything useful at all. It's really almost worse than hearing the timpani pounded too roughly - the "building a barn" effect, as I call it. The horns are magnificent throughout (closely recorded), but where are the trombones? They completely drop the ball at the climax of the long brass chorale towards the end of movement 6. Compare this to Boulez/VPO, where the horns aren't quite as strong, but the trombones play their chorale writing with much more audible strength. I also don't care for the "screechy" quality that the trumpets get here and there either. Sorry John, but I do think you're a bit loco in this one case. Devotional?   .    .   .   maybe, but Mahler 3 is not a catholic mass. It's not the Mozart Requiem being played in St. Stephonsdom. If anything, I would say that Abbado/VPO are far more "with it" in the first three movements. Then the tension (and thus, the musicality) truly sags in the final three movements. If you think of Mahler 3 as a long winded concerto for strings and horns, then I guess Abbado/VPO would be hard to beat.

It's a small thing, but I really like the short brass line that Boulez adds towards the end of the choral "bim-bam" movement on his M3. They come in with the "Texaco" theme for about four bars ("you can trust your car to the man who wears the star"). I've never seen it written out in any printed version, so I guess Boulez just came up with it on his own; I don't know. Regardless, I like it.

Offline Leo K

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
  • You're the best Angie
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #34 on: May 23, 2008, 05:52:17 PM »
Barry, what you hate about the Abbado/VPO M3 is what I love!  The different, softer tone (or reverent, devotional tone) in the last three movements is the magic key, so to speak, of this M3.  Yes, probably not Mahler's intent...but still works for me.  If Mahler's 3rd was a Bruckner work, this performance would be more in character I suppose!


It appears the Ozawa M3 (with M6) had been reissued ( a CDR copy though) by Archivemusic...still pricey, but tempting  :)

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=64826&album_group=8

--Todd

Offline barry guerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3928
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #35 on: May 23, 2008, 06:05:49 PM »
It's not so much that I hate it, but rather that I think it's an unnecessary deviation from what's written that contributes very little - if anything. Perhaps it would have helped if Abbado - in this particular case - had provided more color & contrast in the "bim-bam" choral movement. As I said, as a concerto for strings & horns, it's hard to beat.

You also need to ask yourselves this question: if Abbado got it so right the first time, why would he have so drastically altered his tempi and balances in his Berlin remake?

By the way, I second your enthusiasm for the Heinz Rogner M3, which I feel is a far more well-rounded presentation of M3 than Abbado/VPO is. If you like the Rogner M3, you'd probably like the Armin jordan one as well.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2008, 06:21:21 PM by barry guerrero »

Offline Leo K

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
  • You're the best Angie
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #36 on: May 23, 2008, 07:43:12 PM »
Barry, well considered points there...

By the way, when it really comes to brass tax, I think I hold the Rogner, Kobayashi, Boulez and Zinman as my favorite M3's...they encompass the sublime and the profane best...

As much as I like the Abbado VPO M3, I agree the Rogner has the edge (in being more well-rounded as you say).

And thanks for the heads up on the Armin Jordon...I'm still planning on getting that one.


--Todd
« Last Edit: May 23, 2008, 07:58:03 PM by Leo K »

Polarius T

  • Guest
Abbado, Rogner
« Reply #37 on: May 24, 2008, 05:17:08 AM »
I've been looking to re-acquire (for a not totally absurd price) the Abbado/VPO M3 for years after giving it up in the absence of shelf space. I remember it as particularly mesmerizing (a quality, as you say, Todd, of both the performance itself and the fascinating sound image of this recording) and I've regretted letting it go after the new BPO M3 came out (not that the latter is any weaker; on the contrary, rather). Together with the Abbado/VPO M9 it holds a very special place in my aural memory and indeed it made a powerul early impression in its time, making me feel quite viscerally that I now finally "got" the Mahler mystique (but there is no reason to mystify the recording itself, I think; it's not marked by any more hallowed manner than the next guy's, it's just conducting that's exceptionally concentrated and attentive and an orchestra that's motivated and capable of realizing the conductor's vision exceptionally well).

Why Abbado would want a remake of it for the posterity is not such a big mystery. We change, and we want to redo things in the image of our present thinking: artists are engaged in the business of expressing things through themselves. That doesn't mean the previous was bad; at most, it might have been just "youthful" in retrospect, if we think of it from the point of view of the artist's career arc, but who's to say it's not equally or even more valid as a representation it gives of the work itself? Moreover I don't think musicians themselves hold such sacred notions as there being just "one best" performance; being artists they are probably less prone to reifying art and more prone to thinking of it as an ongoing process..

So the upshot is that you leave me feeling very intrigued by the Rogner M3. Is that the one with Jadwiga Rappe? That'd be a plus in my book.

PT
« Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 05:46:36 AM by Polarius T »

john haueisen

  • Guest
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #38 on: May 25, 2008, 06:07:14 PM »
Todd recently referred to the Rogner M3:

The third movement uses a "posthorn" that sounds more like a muted coronet than a trumpet...I'm not sure exactly what they're using here, but it's interesting and much better than Horenstein's flugelhorn.  The oboe in the "Oh Mensch" is quirky but haunting...the slides are slowed down so the "middle" note in the slide is heard longer...quite unorthodox, but yet appealing in it's rough-out-of-tune quality and sounding like a bird like no other performance I've yet heard.

Has anyone else heard the Rogner, and been able to determine what they're using instead of a flugenlhorn?  While you're looking--or rather listening--give a listen to the oboe in the "Oh Mensch" that Todd described above much better than I've ever been able to.  Reminds me of Richard Strauss' quote in Ariadne:
 
"Fremder Vogel, singe wieder,          Strange bird, sing on,
Deine Klagen, sie beleben,               Your plaintive calls revive us,
Uns entzucken solche Lieder!"          Such songs enchant us!

The strange bird (the oboe) adds to Mahler's unearthly atmosphere in this Rogner M3.  I don't think it's done this way in any other recording--worth the experience!

John H

   

Logan

  • Guest
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #39 on: May 25, 2008, 07:51:11 PM »
Please excuse my ignorance on this matter, but is it really possible for an LP on a turntable to sound better than a CD?
Did the CD remastering lose something, or the LP somehow capture something else?

I have the Karajan M9 ( (1st recording- -analog) on both LP and CD.  The LP is mint condition - no clicks, pops, or scratches.  I have synchronised the two and have played them to 8 Mahler-lovers, switching between the two presentations at random, without the listeners knowing which was which.

Seven of the eight preferred the LP version, with almost all of them convinced that it was the CD.  The eighth picked which was which but preferred the digital medium because he listens to everything on an i-pod and can't handle analog sound.

This I think takes care of your misconception.

In a variant of the test I played the beginning of the Ancerl M9 (LP) against the Karajan (CD).  These could not be synchronised of course but I told listeners that the turntable was running slightly off-speed and needed service.  Both performances feature multi-miking which fleshes out inner detail often unheard, but they are totally different in character - Karajan cool to the point of detachment and Ancerl urgently passionate.

The Ancerl LP was preferred 5 to 3.  Only one of my 8 listeners wondered why I was playing two different performances.

Presented for what it is worth.

Offline John Kim

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2138
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #40 on: May 25, 2008, 08:49:52 PM »
I have the Karajan M9 ( (1st recording- -analog) on both LP and CD.  The LP is mint condition - no clicks, pops, or scratches.  I have synchronised the two and have played them to 8 Mahler-lovers, switching between the two presentations at random, without the listeners knowing which was which.

Seven of the eight preferred the LP version, with almost all of them convinced that it was the CD. 
Good to hear people's good verdict on Karajan's first M9th :D

I've been telling the same story - the LP sounds better than the CD(s).

John,

Offline sbugala

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 319
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #41 on: May 26, 2008, 07:34:58 PM »
I have the Karajan M9 ( (1st recording- -analog) on both LP and CD.  The LP is mint condition - no clicks, pops, or scratches.  I have synchronised the two and have played them to 8 Mahler-lovers, switching between the two presentations at random, without the listeners knowing which was which.

Seven of the eight preferred the LP version, with almost all of them convinced that it was the CD. 
Good to hear people's good verdict on Karajan's first M9th :D

I've been telling the same story - the LP sounds better than the CD(s).

John,

While I'm glad they finally (about 10 years ago) got around to putting his first M9 on CD, I am beginning to prefer its LP incarnation as well.  I do prefer the huge tam tam crash in the the first movement on CD. The rest is more airy and open on LP, and less plastic-ky, if that makes sense. 

Offline John Kim

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2138
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #42 on: May 26, 2008, 09:23:28 PM »
As I explained before, the Karajan M9th LP has a better balance from bottom to top with good emphasis on the low bass lines, with closer and stronger timpani. Unfortunately, when they transferred it to CD the upper instruments got boosted resulting in bright, shrill sound; you can hear high trumpets, woodwinds, and cymbal rolls all clearly but the low instruments sound tiny. The biggest disappointment is the weak timpani at the major climax of the 1st movt.

John,

Polarius T

  • Guest
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #43 on: May 27, 2008, 02:41:23 AM »
Thanks John and Logan,
I guess this is yet another daily reminder that I am still learning.  I never would have imagined that an LP could produce sound preferable to that of a CD.  Now, I wish I'd hung onto more of my LPs.

John H

Well, there are several opinions AND viewpoints on this. Number one, not everyone thinks digital is inferior (count me among those). Objectively speaking it ain't, either, regardless of what and how you measure (dynamic range & frequency range reproduced, various types of distortion, etc.). Add to that the inherent stability, durability, storability, user-friendliness, cost of acquisition & maintenance, availability etc. of the medium and for many you have a winner at hand. Second, in the early going they didn't quite know how to make digital recordings yet, hence the "bad" sound of the early DDD issues. Nothing inherent about the medium in this, the same was true for the early stereo and the early DSD/MC as well. Things improve. (How long did it take to get the monaural techniques honed to the level by which we now know them in our recollections? 50 years?) Third, there are psychoacoustic phenomena that may be responsible for the preference that many show for their old LPs. Analog had lots (and I mean LOOOTS) of various types of distortion which is entirely lacking in the digital format and may be what makes people prefer the "analog sound." So it wouldn't be more accurate but in fact less accurate (more distorted) but people for some reason like "the sound" of that distortion. Certain kind of harmonic distortion gives a feeling of there being more "air" in the upper range, for instance. That distortion can also be the product of the playback equipment. The distortion is then not there in the music, it's not there in the signal feed, it's not there in the master tapes (or comparable), but it's introduced in it by the analog playback rig. In a somewhat similar fashion some people prefer 78 rpm monos. This medium simply contains so little information (compared to PCM digital and SACD especially) that it's really nicer and easier ("smoother") to listen to, claim some. Fourth, there is the force of habit. We all grew up with the sound of our LPs and even 78s, and that's how we learned to recognize a good sound and know our music by. Digital is simply so much more accurate to the original signal feed and so much greater dynamic range (the difference between the quietest and the loudest sounds) and frequency range (the lowest and the highest sound produced) that it can simply be a bit "disturbing" to listen to, in your own living room where you are habituated to the limitations of the LP medium.

So I'd say anyone can have a preference, but to talk about the "better" sound of LPs to my ears is just nonsensical, unless it's heavily qualified somehow. It simply isn't any better, no matter how you look at it; but it may be "nicer" in several ways. And in many cases it's also not about the product itself but about what the playback chain that you own does to it.

Comparisons are very dubious unless there is careful enough level matching (in blind tests people *always* prefer the sound that is even a little bit louder), the switch component (A/B) is reliable, and the test is really blind (not even the switcher knows what he/she is switching to, so as to be unable to give unconscious signals to the testee).

Anyway, if you take almost any of the current PCM recordings (have you heard what they can do these days? Try for example the new Pollini/Mozart cto recordings, or the Boulez Mahler 2, whatever), I doubt you can maintain it's inferior to anything you've heard in the past, including SACD. Interestingly, to date there hasn't been one single blind test in which the listeners could have reliably been able to tell apart a hi-rez recording from a normal PCM variant of the same, when all other conditions were controlled.

I'm also tickled by the ease by which a very large number of the analog fans are now making the transition to hard disc based systems. That's the same digital as in your CD but without the aluminum around it.

But this is really another discussion.

PT
« Last Edit: May 27, 2008, 03:09:01 AM by Polarius T »

Offline barry guerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3928
Re: What is your single "must-have on a desert island" Mahler work?
« Reply #44 on: May 27, 2008, 07:26:32 AM »
Has anyone else heard the Rogner, and been able to determine what they're using instead of a flugenlhorn?

It's just a rotary valve trumpet with a mute stuck in it.

 

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk