Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by George P, May 29, 2015.
just in > brand new release BD-Video - marvelous standards and one new:
Scottish National Orchestra
Prokofiev: Suites - Chout; Le pas d'Acier; Love of Three Oranges
Smetana: Ma Vlast
I have collected quite a few Andris Nelsons recordings and like most of them. On the new Boston Symphony Brahms, I am not sure I like the pace of some of the movements. So I decided to wait a year or so, and then try to evaluate whether I disagree or dislike his approach. Or maybe by then I will appreciate the interpretations more than I do now.
Listening to this recording for the first time. A tortured volcanic individual reading. Not comfortable at all. Highly recommended.
And the audio quality is amazing. Detailed with perfect reverberation and clarity. A case demonstrating that 16/44 is more than enough provided the recording and mastering is adequately successful.
I have that whole set! Picked it up cheap, used, a few years back. I should revisit it soon.
I know, they can be very critical and harsh at times, but this is what ClassicsToday wrote about Sinopoli's Mahler Symphonies set:
"A set easily dispensed with: Sinopoli delivers fine performances of Symphonies 2, 3, and 5, and an exceptionally good Das Lied von der Erde (with the Staatskapelle Dresden sounding much more at home and idiomatic than the Philharmonia ever does). Everything else is mediocre (Das Klagende Lied; Symphonies Nos. 1, 4, 8, and 9) to lousy (Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7). The problems generally stem from slow tempos (Symphony No. 6’s Andante), surprisingly bad playing (Symphony No. 7, finale), mannered phrasing (just about everywhere), strange sonics (often too reverberant with peculiar balances), and an orchestra whose weak trombones and lack of power in its lower registers fail to do justice to the range of Mahler’s unique orchestration. Of all the complete Mahler cycles available, this one arguably makes the least powerful claim on your purse, and it certainly doesn’t equal or surpass those by Tennstedt, Bernstein, Kubelik, Haitink, Ozawa, or even Solti, despite the inclusion of the song cycles and the early cantata."
A renowned Dutch critic whose ears I trust wasn't very postive either, he said that the musical quality of Sinopoli's set was very variable, which description he often uses as a euphemism for "not very good".
Haven't heard the set myself, so I can't comment, but this doesn't sound very inviting...
Classicstoday is generally to be avoided and should not in any way make us hesitate to listen to Sinopolis Mahler cycle. It should actually force us to do it. Hurwitz & co. usually stuck in some technicalities like the trombones or some percussion, and build their superfluous reviews thereon.
Sinopoli,s reading is so interesting because it is risky and inspired and makes you wonder what more exists in Mahler's works. My opinion.
I should mention that my first pass though this set was enjoyable. It was highly recommended by an orchestral afficionado friend of mine who shares my taste in classical performance. I feel that this is perhaps the most valuable aspect of participating in online forums, I can find people who share my taste, so when they recommend something, it is much more likely that I will enjoy it. I once went by online reviews until I realized how often my taste differed from theirs, not to mention that my respect for one of them, David Hurwitz, dimished with almost every review of his that I read. Hurwitz wrote the Classics Today review of this set had very little positive to say about it. In fact, he had very little in general to say about the set as a whole. I have seen longer reviews for a single CD and this is a 15 CD set! Luckily, I have other places to go for guidance.
Anybody here have any opinions about Eliahu Inbal's cycle with the Frankfurt RSO?
I was typing my response as you posted yours! Personally, I have found Jed Distler's reviews to be helpful and along the lines of my own taste. In his reviews, Hurwitz almost always comes across as a buffoon to me.
Sorry, haven't heard it. I have read good things, though.
I've never forgiven Hurwitz for an article he wrote in the sad thing Opus became after Musical America took it over and gutted it. The gist of it was that recordings, and particularly historical recordings, have little or no value and that the only way to hear music properly is live. A view that, by pure happenstance, just happened to align perfectly with the artsy-arched-eyebrow philosophy of Musical America at the time....
I am piecing it together disc by disc...so far I have Symphonies Nos. 4, 5, 7 & 8. I really like what I have heard so far and look forward to tracking down other discs in the cycle.
Another excellent cycle that I am piecing together at the moment is that of Gary Bertini. I have 1-6 in his cycle. I have Symphony No. 5 in Sinopoli's cycle and I agree that it's a searing, spectacular interpretation. I have also acquired Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 9 in Boulez cycle and I like everything that I have heard so far.
I don't agree with your assessment of ClassicsToday. True, Mr Hurwitz can go over the top at times, but in my experience he's not always wrong. And, again in my experience, one of their reviewers, Jed Distler, is one of the most credible in the business, even if I don't always agree with him. His piano reviews are generally excellent in my opinion.
As for Sinopoli's Mahler set, as I said I haven't heard it and can't comment, but when the Dutch critic I mentioned earlier says its musical quality is "variable" I tend to take his word for it - his taste in instrumental classical music doesn't diverge from mine very much and, being retired, I haven't got unlimited funds to invest in every CD or set that might seem interesting and I don't do streaming or things like that.
Dear J.A.W., as of nature I cannot respect any person who consciously chooses not to consider, and evaluate any historical context when making assessments. Hurwitz is the archetypal for such behavior in the music critics world. For me this is inexcusable to say the least.
As for the Dutch critic writing the quality of Sinopoli's cycle is variable, I cannot agree more. Herni Louis de la Grange gave this cycle's separate releases grades from 1 up to 5 Diapasons. If I were to read a critic's review that might claim that a Mahler cycle is 100% successful (in other words, 100% to his liking) throughout it will mean that either the conductor/orchestra made some middle of the line balanced safe reading (alright but what for; just for reference?) or the critic does not know what he is writing about. Mahler symphonies are so variable in mood, expression, form, structure etc. that one personality cannot capture their full essence in all of them.
I agree that Mr. Hurwitz can often be (unnecessarily) crabby and his opinions are often way out in left field but I agree with him that "authentic" or period performance has gotten out of hand, especially now that the period bands have apparently run out of "ancient" music to play and are trying their hand at Brahms, Mahler and Strauss. Late-Romantic music played by Baroque Orchestras sounds horribly wrong to me and I don't hear or perceive anything authentic in the practice.
Well I didn't know about Hurwitz's apparent stance on historical recordings and context, as drh posted above. That sounds very questionable to me indeed.
What you're saying about reviewing sets with multiple works is true, of course, and also an "open door" as we say here. I tried to explain why I went with his judgement in my previous post (which I edited by the way - I added a bit to the last part.) Before deciding whether or not to buy a set that looks interesting to me I try to gather as many info and opinions as possible, and Sinopoli's Mahler set didn't generally come out very favourable as a whole, not as much as others at least, that's why I decided not to get it and spend my money elsewhere. As I indicated finances are tight and I have to make choices, based on impressions I get from what I read and hear, however arbitrary that may seem to others. I'd like to leave it at that.
Can't you say that of pretty much any body of music in the class Schnabel described as "better than it can be performed"? Even Schnabel himself doesn't always hit the mark, at least to my ear; wonderful as his cycle of the Beethoven stas. is taken as a whole, there are certain ones--particularly the "lighter" ones--where I'm not always convinced. To cite another of my musical favorites, George Georgescu's cycle of the Beethoven syms. includes an account of no. 1 that I didn't like at all. And Toscaninophile that I am, I'd be the first to admit that I'm not swept away by his "complete set" account of Beethoven's 2d sym. Just to pull a few examples off the top of my head.
I fully agree about creeping "period instruments"--and I'd be more impressed with Hurwitz if I hadn't been saying the same thing years before he got around to it. Applying tropes of the Baroque era to Romantic era music is no more "authentic" than going the other way 'round. At least, so I think.
Of course. In the hay day of CDs these boxes costed a fortune and we had to make choices also acc. to the trusted critics reviews. However now they can be found so cheaply that it is so tempting to go for them and calibrate our critics opinions (who in any case got their sets for free).
The Dutch critic I was talking about is retired (he's now in his 80s) and has to pay for every single CD and set he reviews on his website (in Dutch). Just thought I'd mention it.
Those mega sets may be relatively cheap, but it's still a lot of money when there are so many...
I was wondering, did you ever have the chance to listen to Richard Caniell/Immortal Performances' set with Toscanini's 1939 Beethoven cycle (unfortunately released on CD-R) and if so, what's your opinion?
The more I listen to the Nelsons Brahms I agree with you on the questionable pace. Some movements seem too slow and drawn out to me. I find myself at times preferring the urgency of Solti and Kleiber.
Prokofiev: Complete Piano Sonatas
Scottish National Orchestra
Prokofiev: The Complete Symphonies
includes both versions of Symphony No. 4
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