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Thread: What do you think of Bertini's Mahler?

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Default What do you think of Bertini's Mahler?

    I notice that the set by Gary Bertini has drawn rave reviews in some quarters. Any thoughts?
    Last edited by DavidA; Feb-12-2019 at 16:20.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I notice that the set by Gary Bertini has drawn rave reviews in some quarters. Any thoughts?
    It's a very good and consistent set, with no real weak performances, but none that I would rank as the "best". Very good sonics, though, and it features the best tenor soloists on record in Das Lied von der Erde. There's a little weirdness about how the symphonies are broken up, due to EMI's anti-musical insistence on cramming the most music onto the fewest discs. An additional disc or two would have made the set more user friendly - I think that this may be the only set that breaks up #4.
    Last edited by wkasimer; Feb-12-2019 at 17:20.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    It's a very good and consistent set, with no real weak performances, but none that I would rank as the "best". Very good sonics, though, and it features the best tenor soloists on record in Das Lied von der Erde. There's a little weirdness about how the symphonies are broken up, due to EMI's anti-musical insistence on cramming the most music onto the fewest discs. An additional disc or two would have made the set more user friendly - I think that this may be the only set that breaks up #4.
    I echo these sentiments wholeheartedly. It's definitely one of the most consistent Mahler cycles around. For me the 1st is his best performance (really good) but there's no average ones.... All are good at least and many are very good. And yes, the way the discs are split up is ridiculous, confusing and annoying. I got so fed up with the CD version I ripped the lot to my hard drive and totally renumbered and retagged the whole lot so it makes some sort of sense. A few other Mahler cycles split too many discs (I know it's difficult because of the length of some of his symphonies) . The same goes for Neumann's digital Dvorak cycle, in that I did the same with that one too and ripped it to my HD.
    Last edited by Merl; Feb-12-2019 at 18:02.

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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    His 3, 4, 6 and 9 are excellent. Bertini did a very consistent set, and yet one which moves with the composer. So there's little of the Wunderhorn spirit in the later works, and the earlier Symphonies do retain a sort of rustic warmth. Brilliant orchestra, beautiful recording.

    I have ripped and reordered as well. Probably the least well laid out box I have come across!
    Last edited by CnC Bartok; Feb-12-2019 at 19:17.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    I have ripped and reordered as well. Probably the least well laid out box I have come across!
    No, that would be the Janowski RING on Eurodisc, in its most recent incarnations.

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    If I could only keep one set, it would be Bertini's. The sound is very good to excellent. The orchestral playing superb throughout and the conducting beyond reproach. Other than an incomplete 10th, it's terrific. Add a disk he made of some of the songs and you have a very fine Mahler collection. The way the symphonies are broken up isn't all that bad, although they really should have put #4 on it's own disk.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I was playing the 5th from this set last night. Excellent performance and possibly one of my favourite 5ths in the catalogue.

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    I spent a long time researching different Mahler cycles using this forum and Spotify, and I began to agree with what many here believe: it's nearly impossible to find a Mahler cycle where you enjoy every single symphony. I began to fall in love with different conductors for different symphonies, and in many cases specific movements from different recordings. This can be frustrating when trying to settle on one set to get for a good price! I started to understand the temptation to own 50 different cycles, after all many individual symphony releases cost the same as a full set!

    Now all that being said, I wanted to spend my classical music recording budget on more than just a dozen different Mahler cycles (though that's a pretty tempting way to spend the budget), so I settled on Bertini's Mahler cycle, which was a bit of a risk considering that it's not on Spotify and hard to find samples of. I settled on it because I found two recordings on YouTube: one was the 5th which is my absolute favorite performance of the symphony, and the other was the 3rd, which was also a great performance though the YouTube version was a rip of the cassette tape release. When my personal set arrived, I could finally listen to every symphony and I was not disappointed! Each performance is wonderful, and once I did settle on this set, I started to appreciate it deeper, with 1 and 5 really standing out as my favorites.

    My only gripe is that the first symphony is recorded live, which subjects the important quietness to audience coughing and general random noise. While this in part drives me insane, it also speaks for how wonderful the performance really is that I put up with it (though I know this doesn't bother everyone). The brisk take on the second movement has become my favorite interpretation of this movement, and in a way has ruined other performances of the first symphony in that every else feelllllssss sooooo slloooowwww. It's really incredible how much the quick pace adds to the excitement of the music here. (As a side note, if anyone has any recommendation for a recording of the first symphony that has a fast second movement and does not have the painful coughs and distractions of a live recording, I am all ears).

    I could go on longer, but the simplest summary is this: the entire set is solid and if you're looking, like I was, to have a single Mahler cycle to enjoy until you can get around to spending more of your music budget on additional recordings, it's hard to go wrong choosing Bertini as an introduction to your Mahler journey.

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    Member MrMeatScience's Avatar
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    I've been doing my own fairly comprehensive if not exhaustive survey of Mahler cycles for the last month or so, and have found that snappier performances of the second movement of the First suit me better as well. Boulez's moves along at a good clip, and that's a studio recording. Surprisingly, that recording turned out to be one of my favorite Firsts -- having never heard Boulez do Mahler before, I was put off, thinking it would be too clinical for my tastes, but I loved it. Wish I could hear Bertini's, but as others have said, it's not on Spotify and I don't want to shell out for another cycle when I have so many to listen through already. The glowing reviews upthread of the Fifth are tempting me, though.

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