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Thread: Maazel's New Mahler Cycle

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    Default Maazel's New Mahler Cycle

    Apparently Lorin Maazel is leaving New York with a bang; a cycle of the Mahler symphonies (without the eighth, and only the adagio of the tenth) in MP3-only format. It's really bizarre; I don't think I've ever seen such obscenely distended tempi anywhere. For example, a sixth symphony with an opening movement that runs to 25 minutes and a finale that makes it to 33; a tenth symphony adagio that somehow has a timing of nearly a half an hour; and the first movement of the ninth symphony, which is--would you believe it--over 32 minutes long.

    However, there are some shorter movements; Urlicht from the second symphony is a mere four and a half minutes long.

    I'm really tempted to sample some of this, but at the same time I'm somewhat intimidated by how bad I've known Lorin Maazel to sometimes be. I'll just have to wait for some reviews to go around...
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Although on further research on these recordings, they are live performances from 2003-2009 which were in general very well received. There are several online reviews from the NY Times about the actual performances from which the recordings were taken, and they were generally highly complimentary. Here are timings for the whole cycle (minus, of course, the 8th, which is to be released on August 25th since it was performed at the end of this last concert season):

    Symphony No. 1
    I- 15:43
    II- 8:07
    III- 11:06
    IV- 19:46
    TT- 54:41

    Symphony No. 2
    I- 22:42
    II- 10:13
    III- 10:51
    IV- 4:38
    V- 36:04
    TT- 1:24:25

    Symphony No. 3
    I- 36:51
    II- 10:34
    III- 17:14
    IV- 9:02
    V- 4:21
    VI- 25:44
    TT- 1:43:46

    Symphony No. 4
    I- 18:02
    II- 10:07
    III- 24:53 (!)
    IV- 10:32
    TT- 54:41

    Symphony No. 5
    I- 13:32
    II- 14:56
    III- 17:39
    IV- 10:56
    V- 15:22
    TT- 1:12:23

    Symphony No. 6
    I- 25:11
    II(S)- 18:03
    III(A)- 13:02
    IV- 33:09
    TT- 1:29:25

    Symphony No. 7
    I- 26:22 (!)
    II- 17:29
    III- 9:38
    IV- 14:45
    V- 20:30
    TT- 1:28:44

    Symphony No. 9
    I- 32:19 (!!!)
    II- 15:39
    III- 14:17
    IV- 27:30
    TT- 1:29:45

    Symphony No. 10
    29:42

    It's very strange to see just how many of these have total times close to a full hour and a half... 2, 3, 6, 7, and 9 are quite long by any standards. Yikes.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    I'm not impressed with Maazel's conducting, especially his Mahler.

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    Why no Eighth, I wonder?

    Have you heard Otto Klemperer's Seventh? Over 100 minutes long!

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    Quote Originally Posted by maestro267 View Post
    Why no Eighth, I wonder?

    Have you heard Otto Klemperer's Seventh? Over 100 minutes long!
    The 8th is coming toward the end of the month. The performances concluded this season.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by World Violist View Post
    I'm really tempted to sample some of this, but at the same time I'm somewhat intimidated by how bad I've known Lorin Maazel to sometimes be. I'll just have to wait for some reviews to go around...
    Please don't bring Maazel to 'bad' category. He is extra-ordinarily talented. I have not heard a single Mahler symphony done by him but by instinct, I can say that it would be average at best but not 'bad'.

    As a testimonial to his efforts, let me say that there are magnificent readings by him of
    1. Complete Tchaikovsky symphonies.
    2. Tchaikovsky - Manfred symphony
    3. His cycle of Sibelius symphonies with the Wiener is the one to beat.
    4. His reading of Stravinsky's Firebird ballet is best by L'ORTF.

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    Quote Originally Posted by World Violist View Post
    It's very strange to see just how many of these have total times close to a full hour and a half... 2, 3, 6, 7, and 9 are quite long by any standards. Yikes.
    You are going by minutes and not the content. Very few conductors can make the statement broad and spacious and the language sounds deep and effective. Take for example the readings of Bruckner's symphonies by Sergiu Celibidache.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tahnak View Post
    Please don't bring Maazel to 'bad' category. He is extra-ordinarily talented. I have not heard a single Mahler symphony done by him but by instinct, I can say that it would be average at best but not 'bad'.

    As a testimonial to his efforts, let me say that there are magnificent readings by him of
    1. Complete Tchaikovsky symphonies.
    2. Tchaikovsky - Manfred symphony
    3. His cycle of Sibelius symphonies with the Wiener is the one to beat.
    4. His reading of Stravinsky's Firebird ballet is best by L'ORTF.
    Nope, I disagree. The only Maazel recordings I have and like are his readings of Respighi's "Roman Triology" and Prokofiev's "Romeo And Juliet." Other than that, he's a mediocre conductor.

    By the way, his Sibelius cycle is terrible. One of the worst I've heard, so I strongly disagree with you there. His Mahler is also just terrible, he doesn't really have a firm understanding of Mahler's music.
    Last edited by Mirror Image; Aug-13-2009 at 19:32.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mirror Image View Post
    His Mahler is also just terrible, he doesn't really have a firm understanding of Mahler's music.
    I listened to his Mahler 8th on Youtube, and it is actually very nice; the broad tempi are actually a good thing with this symphony if they're done musically, and Maazel does everything quite musically, even though you have to be in a good frame of mind to really get into it. Maybe he's gotten his Mahlerian act together in the last 30 or so years...

    His Sibelius, I'll agree straight away, is the worst I've ever heard... except for the 2nd, which is mind-boggling. The rest is heartless, seemingly.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    I recently came across Maazel's new Mahler cycle with the NY Phil when browsing iTunes for Mahler albums (though I eventually decided to purchase from Amazon, instead). So far, I've bought Mahler 9, Mahler 6, Mahler 1, Mahler 7, and Mahler 10 (in that order) of the cycle, and intend to buy the rest. I generally enjoyed his Mahler 9, though as some have said, it drags along; Maazel's tempi throughout these works can get to be a bit tiresome and may take some getting used to. For instance, in the first movement of Mahler 7, numerous sections are slowed down considerably, to the point that the music sounds entirely different from most other interpretations. I recently saw a video interview with Maazel in which he admitted he never liked Mahler as a youth; Mahler's music only began to grow on him as life progressed.

    Sometimes, I wonder if Maazel still doesn't 'get' Mahler, because there are frequent occasions on which he shamelessly turns the composer's music into something completely different than what may have been intended; it becomes more of a 'Maazel symphony' than a 'Mahler symphony.' And then there's that possible wrong note played by (whom I believe to be) principal horn Philip Myers in the first few minutes of Mahler 9...

    However, I am still intensely enjoying these recordings; Mahler 1 in this cycle is especially good, in my opinion, and while Maazel noticeably slows the tempo down in the work's closing moments just in time for the epic horn feature, it actually works quite well. I'll be checking out the other recordings in this cycle.

    Regardless of Maazel's interesting (in an often slow, boring way) and unorthodox interpretations, the orchestra is in top form, and the quality of recording is excellent, with crystal clear sound. And the works still hold ample amounts of Mahlerian emotion, for which this cycle is to commended.
    Last edited by Bard; Aug-28-2009 at 23:04.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mirror Image
    By the way, his Sibelius cycle is terrible. One of the worst I've heard, so I strongly disagree with you there. His Mahler is also just terrible, he doesn't really have a firm understanding of Mahler's music.
    I concur with t hat. I didn't think to much of his Mahler cycle from Vienna, either, from the two examples that I heard (3 & 5).
    Last edited by Krummhorn; Aug-29-2009 at 04:46.

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    Next to Reiner, both his Decca/London Cleveland and Sony Pittsburgh Respighi "Pines/Fountains of Rome" are second to none. He made a magnificent Debussy "Nocturnes", "Iberia", and "Jeux" LP for Decca/London in the 1970's which to this day, has never seen the light of day on CD. This is really worth checking out, a true sleeper if there ever was one. I agree totally with the Tchaikovsky "Manfred" which he made with the Vienna Phil, simply astounding it most certainly is. Noone has ever made the Tchaikovsky 3rd "Polish" symphony sound more sparkling and alive than Maazel, also with the Vienna Phil. (some ten years earlier approximately, from the "Manfred".)

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    I am very happy to note that you respect Lorin Maazel for his achievements. There are many people on this forum who dismiss him outright saying that his are the worst renditions that they have come across.
    I have heard his Manfred as well as Polish with the Wiener Philharmoniker and there is only one word that is 'Sparkling' as you have described. I have the same opinion about his Sibelius symphonic cycle with the Wiener Philharmoniker on London and people booh it out.
    I am waiting to hear his Mahler. The complaint is that it is slow and without feeling. Well, I am one who finds depth in Maazel's readings and I think he has earned enough to make me give him a blank chit as a great director.
    Yes, there is one recording with the Berlin that I found average and that was Also Sprach Zarathustra. He missed out on the closing passages with the lack in intensity.

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    Thanks so much for sharing the post.

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    Thanks a lot. I think it's funny too.
    Works great! Thank you for posting this.
    Last edited by Chi_townPhilly; Jan-12-2010 at 19:05. Reason: promotional URL-link removed
    [Promo links removed]

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