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

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    Default What do you think of Levine's Mahler?

    A sad reason for creating this thread. Very often (for me, at least) the death of a musician gives an additional impulse to get acquainted with his work. So it happened here. I have only listened to the 4th symphony so far. I'm not ready to say that this is the best record I've heard, but the impression is definitely positive.
    What about the other symphonies?

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    Moderator Art Rock's Avatar
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    His version was the first Mahler 9th I listened to (bought the double CD in the late eighties). It was also one of the very, very few that I culled from my collection, decades ago. I'm pretty sure it was the sound quality, very shrill strings (possibly a victim of early CD transfer technology?). Anyway, it turned me off from Levine in Mahler. CDs, let alone double CDs, were very expensive, and having to write one off as a dud did hurt.

    I haven't fully catalogued my Mahler collection yet (because I want to listen to the CD's at the same time, and I want to leave some time in-between versions of the same work), but if he recorded the 4th and DLVDE, I probably have them.

    ETA: I checked my notes of already catalogued CD's, I do have the 4th (Chicago, Levine, Blegen, RCA). I've marked it as an OK performance. That said, for me the soprano is essential in the evaluation, and no-one has done it better for me than Elly Ameling (with Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra).
    Last edited by Art Rock; Apr-18-2021 at 07:15.

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    His M3 with CSO is my overall favorite recording of that work...

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    I have the box of his Mahler symphonies with Chicago/London/Philly. Heck148 is accurate - that #3 is super.

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    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Levine's Mahler 3 is proving popular here. It's my favourite version of that work as well.

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    Senior Member Skakner's Avatar
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    There is plethora of 5th's recordings out there, but to my ears, this is one of the best.


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    Senior Member Brahmsian Colors's Avatar
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    I picked up a sealed lp copy of the Levine/Chicago Mahler Third about a month ago---a superb interpretation!

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Levine's Mahler recordings are all top-notch. .

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    Senior Member mbhaub's Avatar
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    I'm biased. When he started recording Mahler I was in my college/grad school days, digital recording was just coming around, and I had purchased my first high-end (well, for the time) system and my beloved Koss Pro-4AA headphones. I wanted the best sound possible and RCA was doing some fine work then, so Levine was the state of the art sound I was looking for: and the performances were all, without exception, fine. Not a dog in the bunch. Top-flight orchestras didn't hurt - London, Chicago and Philadelphia, stupendous. As others have said, I think the M3 is just superb - still one of the best. All the symphonies are beautifully paced and I get the impression he lets Mahler's voice speak for itself rather than trying to impose his will on it, like Bernstein and Solti. The Levine recordings have worn well. The only let down is perhaps the 7th, where he just couldn't loosen up enough in the finale. Of course it was frustrating as heck that he never set down M2 or M8. If he had, that would have been a set to contend with. He did an M2 in Boston that was, from the rave reviews, just astonishing. I still have the original LPs (anyone want them?).
    "It is surprising how easily one can become used to bad music" - F. Mendelssohn

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    I still have the original LPs (anyone want them?).
    Yes, of course. Vinyl is now experiencing a Renaissance. I'm serious. I also buy vinyl, and not only for the sake of collecting, but also going to listen in the future.

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    Thanks to everyone who spoke out. Of course, there are many excellent recordings of Mahler, but I am very interested in new impressions in this area. I will definitely listen to Levine in the near future. I'll start with the Third one.

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    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    It is some time since I listened to any of them. I do remember that the 3rd was a good one (but I have discovered several really memorable ones since I last heard it so I am not sure I would continue to rate it as highly). I do have a problem with Levine's Mahler but it is hard (for me, anyway) to explain. Often the gestures are correct, the music making powerful, the overall structure well catered for. But there is something missing - is it personality or the sense of a man communicating something important to us? Compare his Mahler with Bernstein's first set and you are comparing something with a rather statuesque feel to it (hardly appropriate for Mahler) with something passionate. That is why it is years since I last heard any of the Levine Mahlers - there are so many different accounts that talk to me much more.

    (I suppose the danger in writing the above is that I will return one day and find I like them much more than I remember!)

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    Senior Member Malx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    I'm biased. When he started recording Mahler I was in my college/grad school days, digital recording was just coming around, and I had purchased my first high-end (well, for the time) system and my beloved Koss Pro-4AA headphones. I wanted the best sound possible and RCA was doing some fine work then, so Levine was the state of the art sound I was looking for: and the performances were all, without exception, fine. Not a dog in the bunch. Top-flight orchestras didn't hurt - London, Chicago and Philadelphia, stupendous. As others have said, I think the M3 is just superb - still one of the best. All the symphonies are beautifully paced and I get the impression he lets Mahler's voice speak for itself rather than trying to impose his will on it, like Bernstein and Solti. The Levine recordings have worn well. The only let down is perhaps the 7th, where he just couldn't loosen up enough in the finale. Of course it was frustrating as heck that he never set down M2 or M8. If he had, that would have been a set to contend with. He did an M2 in Boston that was, from the rave reviews, just astonishing. I still have the original LPs (anyone want them?).
    I have a very decent Mahler 2 from Levine with the Vienna PO recorded at the Salzburg Festival in 1989, not sure about the eighth.


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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malx View Post
    I have a very decent Mahler 2 from Levine with the Vienna PO recorded at the Salzburg Festival in 1989, not sure about the eighth.

    Ive never heard that one. Interesting.

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