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Thread: Mahler: Symphony No. 5

  1. #91
    Senior Member MrMeatScience's Avatar
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    Have you heard Gielen's recording of the Fifth? I think it's exceptional. His fourth movement would be a nice counterweight to Bernstein's -- hard to imagine two more different interpretations!

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    I just ordered the controversial Karajan Mahler 5th for $3 (shipping included, I couldn't pass it up!) after sampling bits and pieces of it and really enjoying what I heard. I understand his Mahler is widely hated by some and adored by others. .
    I've enjoyed this performance for a long time and am still puzzled what people find controversial about it. The fact that it is so well played?

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I've enjoyed this performance for a long time and am still puzzled what people find controversial about it. The fact that it is so well played?
    I like it and I like his 6th too. I think Karajan's Mahler is much maligned. Controversial it you like what you like.

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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMeatScience View Post
    Have you heard Gielen's recording of the Fifth? I think it's exceptional. His fourth movement would be a nice counterweight to Bernstein's -- hard to imagine two more different interpretations!
    Indeed. It's started giving Barbirolli a challenge as far as I am concerned.....

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  6. #95
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I've enjoyed this performance for a long time and am still puzzled what people find controversial about it. The fact that it is so well played?
    I don't know either. People say it's "not Mahler", or that he plays it more in line with the late 19th century Romantic tradition of Bruckner, Brahms etc rather than Mahler's individual style which was closer to the sounds of Modernism to come. I have heard people disparage the 5th in particular because he uses big climaxes and brass-heavy fortissimos à la Bruckner, which I can hear. I do not see this as a bad thing; it's not the only way to do it, but the fact is that Mahler did take a lot of influence from Bruckner and there is no harm in a conductor emphasizing that influence. In the end, to my ears, it still sounds like pure Mahler. But I still have yet to hear his recording in full; maybe it's as bad as they say, who knows. I'm not much of a Karajan fan generally speaking but I think he is damn near peerless in certain repertoire. Definitely a unique voice.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    I love this symphony and considerate it just as much Mahler as anything else he wrote. It’s one of his most often performed and accepted symphonies. But how idiomatic it sounds I think very much depends on the conductor and someone like Bruno Walter or Barbirolli or Kubelick knows how to bring out its best. A certain German conductor I think didn’t sufficiently understand it and sometimes played it too forcefully or insensitively, or was somehow way off base, where it didn’t belong and made a very unidiomatic recording that didn’t reflect the intentions of the composer, at least compared to every other recording that I’ve heard and there have been many recordings that have been made of it... IMO, this is one of his most popular and accessible of his symphonies, though I feel that the first movement has a sense of tragedy about it with its funeral march. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff and some mistake a mischaracterized performance as being the fault of the composer, and yet this symphony has been recorded successfully many times to give it every possible chance of being understood... Sometimes I believe it’s played too forcefully and symphonically and it destroys its subtleties and inner qualities. It’s played like Mahler was an extrovert instead of an introvert which I believe is closer to the truth. One has to play it like Mahler and not some other composer, which I believe sometimes happens. I believe that to best appreciate it one should hear those who are known for creating the sense that they understand his inner life and spirit and there’s a certain warmth rather than volume and power just because the orchestra is capable of it. Then I believe the field is wide open and one can hear other interpretations and judge for oneself. But I believe that with this symphony it’s possible to get off on the wrong foot and the listener doesn’t understand it because the conductor may not have understood it and one can get a distorted picture... For me, Mahler is like a lifelong project and the more interpretations I hear, the more the spirit and soul of the composer is revealed, and one can truly understand who has the greatest insight into him. For me, the word idiomatic means that the performance reminds the listener of no one else other than the composer! That’s what I like about Bruno Walter’s and Barbirolli’s performances. But I believe that to notice this requires hearing a number of interpretations and to enjoy the journey.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Oct-20-2019 at 13:16.
    "That's all Folks!"

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  9. #97
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    I love this symphony and considerate it just as much Mahler as anything else he wrote. It’s one of his most often performed and accepted symphonies. But how idiomatic it sounds I think very much depends on the conductor and someone like Bruno Walter or Barbirolli or Kubelick knows how to bring out its best. A certain German conductor I think didn’t sufficiently understand it and sometimes played it too forcefully or insensitively, or was somehow way off base, where it didn’t belong and made a very unidiomatic recording that didn’t reflect the intentions of the composer, at least compared to every other recording that I’ve heard and there have been many recordings that have been made of it... IMO, this is one of his most popular and accessible of his symphonies! Sometimes it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff and some mistake a mischaracterized performance as being the fault of the composer, and yet this symphony has been recorded successfully many times to give it every possible chance of being understood... As far as his symphonies go, I believe this is one of the easier ones to understand and is authentic Mahler to the core. Sometimes I believe it’s played too forcefully and symphonically and it destroys its subtleties and inner qualities. It’s played like Mahler was an extrovert instead of an introvert which I believe is closer to the truth. One has to play it like Mahler and not some other composer, which I believe sometimes happens. I believe that to best appreciate it one should hear those who are known for creating the sense that they understand his inner life and spirit and there’s a certain warmth rather than volume and power just because the orchestra is capable of it. Then I believe the field is wide open and one can hear other interpretations and judge for oneself. But I believe that with this symphony it’s possible to get off on the wrong foot and the listener doesn’t understand it because the conductor may not have understood it and one can get a distorted picture... For me, Mahler is like a lifelong project and the more interpretations I hear, the more the spirit and soul of the composer is revealed, and one can truly understand who has the greatest insight into him. For me, the word idiomatic means that the performance reminds the listener of no one else other than the composer! That’s what I like about Bruno Walter’s and Barbirolli’s performances. But I believe that to notice this requires hearing a number of interpretations and to enjoy the journey.
    I think I might check out the Barbirolli recording too. I have been exploring that conductor's very famed interpretations of Mahler, bit by bit. I know some say he is THE Mahler conductor par excellence.

    I think extroverted is a great way to put it, re: Karajan and his Mahler 5th, but it is not a deal breaker to me. Something tells me that Mahler actually wouldn't have hated what Karajan did to his symphony. (His infamous 6th may be a different story). Still, I respect your opinion and will take all that into account when listening to and evaluating this recording.

    Again, I think I need to hear the Barbirolli too. To veer off topic for a moment, can anyone tell me definitively what are the Mahler symphonies that Sir John conducted? I know he's conducted the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 9th, and most of the Lieder. It looks like he may have also conducted the 7th...? It seems he is more at home with the mid-to-late symphonies than the Wunderhorn period, though I hear his 3rd with the Hallé Orchestra is also supposed to be phenomenal (for BBC).

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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    ^^^ Some more releases for interest...

    51WdLanbVkL.jpg

    Two No.1 recordings here btw

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  12. #99
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    ^^^ Some more releases for interest...

    51WdLanbVkL.jpg

    Two No.1 recordings here btw
    What's with the ugly album artwork? What kind of label is Memories Reverence, I'm guessing audiophile style...? Anyway, I wasn't aware of his recordings of the 1st and 2nd, good to know.

  13. #100
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Best Barbirolli Mahler recordings IMO are the studio 1st, 5th, and 6th, the live 1960 Italian 9th, live 1970 Stuttgart 2nd, and live 4th with Heather Harper.

  14. #101
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    What's with the ugly album artwork? What kind of label is Memories Reverence, I'm guessing audiophile style...?
    I can't seem to find a website but it's an Italian re-issue label. I have no idea if they are legit or just putting stuff on the market with no connection to the owners of the source material?
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

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  15. #102
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I've enjoyed this performance for a long time and am still puzzled what people find controversial about it. The fact that it is so well played?
    Karajan takes a piece that is full of drama and pathos - listen to Barbirolli for example - and makes it sound superficially about beautiful sounds and nothing else.

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  17. #103
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    Karajan takes a piece that is full of drama and pathos - listen to Barbirolli for example - and makes it sound superficially about beautiful sounds and nothing else.
    I don’t hear that at all! I hear intense drama in Karajan’s reading, if slightly more on the detached side, pathos-wise.

  18. #104
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    I don’t hear that at all! I hear intense drama in Karajan’s reading, if slightly more on the detached side, pathos-wise.
    Perhaps I shouldn't say just beautiful sounds, because certainly there is plenty of bombast as well, but my main impression of the Karajan is that he understands the drama and pathos of this symphony on a superficial level. I don't hear real understanding, intelligence or sensitivity, but more of a superficial melodrama.

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  20. #105
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starthrower View Post
    I can't seem to find a website but it's an Italian re-issue label. I have no idea if they are legit or just putting stuff on the market with no connection to the owners of the source material?
    The Memories label is interesting. Yes, they are Italian and often are cited as being 'unofficial but most of their CDs are distributed in the UK by independent record distributors and similarly through Japanese independents (eg New Muse} . Some are also available via Amazon, again through Japanese distributors and must be legit to gain a ASIN number (Amazon won't assign these to non-legit items AFAIK). Recording-wise they are often broadcast recordings but I have no idea where they source them. What I will say is they've got some great stuff and other recordings that are woeful. The Tennstedt Beethoven Symphonies set I reviewed recently is a case in fact. All are from broadcast tapes and vary wildly in quality from almost unlistenable (Symphony 2) to very good analogue (Symphony 9). Whether they have been 'digitally remastered' who knows but the one constant is that they are all correctly attributed and are by the artists involved. More info on Memories is sketchy to say the least and the CDs sell out quickly (small runs) and often don't reappear until they hit the secondhand market and then go for silly money. As far as the covers are concerned I agree that they are generally bloody awful but collectors don't care. If anyone else has any more info on the label I'd be interested.

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