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In Reply to: RE: Depends On Whether You Want The Real Mahler or Polite Suburban Sedan Mahler posted by Newey on April 12, 2017 at 19:07:17
You don't have to buy into the histrionics in Mahler. You don't need a Bernstein swooning over the orchestra like he's saving the world. Mahler's music itself is plenty good enough to be played simply as music.
If you want to hear the music in Symphony 2, listen to Boulez or Gielen, or Klemperer for that matter. Intelligent, musical..... you don't need more than that. It's quite enough.
I think in the sharp hindsight of history, he was let down a bit by Decca's producers and recording engineers by the "juiced up" sonics of much of that Mahler set. It may have been state of the art at the time, or appropriate for the lesser speakers and playback equipment that was then common (my Dad didn't even get a stereo system until 1968) but today we know better, and even the "juicing up" is more subtle and sophisticated.
I was lucky to hear Solti and the CSO in the concert hall many times, and that's what I think of when I think of him.
Still, Newey, you'll be glad to know, I like that set.
But then Kubelik revealed the irony and Bavarian brass sound to me.
Klemperer. the rustic heart.
Bernstein, the "spirituality."
Walter, the folksy pair-bonding fun.
But then, all of the above come up short elsewhere:
Kubelik is a bit too expedient, much like Solti.
Shock and Awe just wasn't part of Walter's bag of tricks.
Bernstein doesn't press forward enough.
That's because Bernstein is too busy gilding the lily and over-emphasizing that organ entrance! ;-)
BTW, as you may remember, I've heard YOUR very copy of the Bernstein Resurrection Symphony (a bit of it anyway) when we were over at Robert C. Lang's house with Jared Sacks in 2010. (Wow - has it been that long?)
Also BTW, what is "folksy pair-bonding fun" and what does it have to do with the Mahler Second? ;-)
No no no. : ) Bernstein gilds the lily too much in the 1st mov't. As for the choral finale, Mahler saved so many surprises from his toy box for the end, why rush it? We've got:
"Langsam" at fig. 46, later the directive is "somewhat" pressing, then somewhat cautious right before fig 47. "More motion" at fig 47. A four measure ritard before fig 48 and the Pesante indication, and, significantly: a great *unfolding* of power. We're also back to 4/4 from 2/2; symbolic?
Personally, I think Bernstein is more in the ball park than Solti, and others who take the finale at a relatively breezy tempo. Mahler doesn't warn the conductor about dragging, unless I missed the indication.
The Finale is a risk that pays-off, IMHO. He keeps it going with carefully graded crescendi. Gets me every time, and that's a rarity these days.
As for pair-bonding fun, the 2nd mov't is a landler after all.
But one thing that does strike me whenever I listen to symphonic works with a score is how often various conductors will ignore various indications (dynamics, speed adjustments, articulation specifications, etc.). Chamber and solo performances seem to me to be more scrupulous in this regard.
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