Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by George P, Jul 13, 2011.
Here is the missing picture ...
Here is the missing picture ...
and all of a sudden, the original picture started to load ...
So that is his full name? Who knew?
Stuart, just when I think you surely most own all the Baroque known to man, you go and shatter my dream ...
Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”
New York Philharmonic
Lee Venora, soprano
Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano
(recorded Sept. 1963 at Manhattan Center, NYC)
I suppose it’s natural to assume Bernstein’s first traversal of Mahler was done by a very young man full of discovery and wonder. It’s safe to say he had those latter qualities, but when this recording was done Bernstein was 45 and was already a seasoned director, especially since Mitropoulos’ unexpected death three years earlier. By the time tape started rolling for this, Bernstein and his band already had recordings of M3, M4 and M5 in the can.
The first two movements go nicely, albeit a bit slow for my taste. These tempos aren’t so slow as to put one off by any means. It is noticeable, and I think it contributes to an occasional slackness in the tuttis. It’s almost like the musicians aren’t sure of what Bernstein wants, especially during rubato. The third movement flows nicely, and is very well played. It is light on its feet with nicht schleppen, so there‘s no complaints.
The short Urlicht movement goes well enough, even though the mezzo is just OK. The Manhattan Center’s spacious sonics are welcome through most of this recording, although its contribution to a rather distant sound stage inhibits recognition of the choir’s words occasionally in the finale. I’m quite sure Mahler wouldn’t have tolerated the off stage band sounding this close to the main proceedings. That said, the fifth movement overall is quite good and very well played. One can even feel the organ’s pedal notes at the end -- a thing that’s missing in so many recordings.
One has to give credit to the producers of this latest set. The SQ is far better than anyone has a right to expect given its age.
Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection”
New York Philharmonic
Barbara Hendricks, soprano
Christa Ludwig, contralto
(recorded live Apr. 1987 at Avery Fisher Hall, NYC)
By this time Bernstein was 68, and was in the twilight of his career -- as it turns out he had just three years left to live. The DG engineers were in town to record this event and were highly successful in taming the Avery Fisher Hall’s problematic acoustics. Bernstein brought in two top-tier soloists for the occasion. There must have been the wind of Major Event in the air and, judging from the results of that concert, the venerable maestro was determined to squeeze out all the emotion from every note in the score.
At first, the first three movements seem very similar to the ‘63 recording. But the reality is Bernstein tacks on well over two and a half minutes to the first three movements. This wouldn’t be that big if only the ‘63 recording wasn’t already on the slow side. This is starting to annoy me. Then Erlicht comes in a minute slower compared to the earlier recording which is none too fast to start with. And if that isn’t enough, Bernstein fattens the last movement by a full 5 minutes over the ’63 recording. There was a time I couldn’t sit through this record without building up a head of frustrated steam. “Good lord man, get ON with it!” But in truth, I have mellowed a bit and lately have learned to live with Lenny’s excessive tempo choices and concentrate instead on the good stuff.
Ahh yes, the good stuff. First, there’s an orchestra playing at the highest level. If there’s an off or badly timed note anywhere, I don’t know where it is. You certainly should expect to hear great playing from pros in a world class group, but these guys sound like they’re there for more than a paycheck. Second, you hear two soloists that are perfect for their parts, and who perform those parts perfectly. Third, you get perfect balance between the various sections of the orchestra, soloists and the choir. Fourth, you get an off stage band that sounds like they’re two blocks away, and that’s good. And then there’s the gonad rattling pipe organ pedal note that as I said is missing from most recordings. That big finish cannot be so big without it.
Rather than treat this recording as a steady ‘go to’ when I’m in the mood for a little resurrection, I’ll think of this one as a valuable historical tribute to a man whose commitment to Mahler’s music was almost fanatical. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bernstein thought he was Mahler reincarnated.
What a nice review, John.
Thanks Jay. I certainly hope my little exercises are not annoying to any on this board. I am determined to make Mahler's music part of my life. Writing these things forces me to pay attention -- which is the whole idea. Responses both positive or negative are welcome, but even some put me on ignore that's OK too.
An OTT Tale
My ultimate concert experience was Mahler's Second with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. I had a seat in the front row right in front of the first cello, this was at Davies after Davies was renovated. It was much as you describe Bernstein's DGG recording, save that I was there, in the front row, watching MTT's tails bounce.
Yers, John, by all means keep writing.
What Jay and Robin said. It's really useful to hear the opinions of someone who can read the score and who has an in-depth knowledge of what's going on in the orchestra, very enlightening.
"Annoying?" Are you kidding? I love your reviews. They're not so technical I don't know what you're talking about, and since your paragraphs are usually under five lines or under, they're easy to read.
Keep writing. And thank you.
I've driven by Davies on my way up to wine country, but regret to say I've heard nary a note inside it, other than the orchestra's Mahler SACDs. I know your opinion is that the M2 on record by MTT doesn't measure up to the apparantly magical night you were there. Did Helen Hunt Lieberson sing that night?
At any rate, I understand that when they redid Davies they did it right.
Checking out some English composers:
Picked up a couple of BBC concert recordings. The first is Emil Gilels in a good performance of Beethoven piano concertos in 1967 at the Royal Festival Hall.
Beethoven: Piano Concertos No. 1 & No. 3. Emil Gilels/New Philharmonia Orchestra/Adrian Boult. ICA Classics 5000, 2011.
The other ICA disc is Evgeny Svetlanov conducting Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.
The Tchaikovsky was his last concert which took place in 2002.
Evgeny Svetlanov. Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1. BBC Symphony Orchestra. Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite (1945 version). Philharmonia Orchestra. ICA Classics 5007, 2011.
kinda. This is a hall where you want to be close to the action. They pawn the lodge seats since they are "exclusive" and the most expensive but the sound up there is really weak. Get close and up front and you get some good sound
"Pay more and get a good seat!"—Redd Foxx
Typical example of first trying to get as many seats as possible and later regretting it. Very expensive way to come up with a sonically mediocre venue.
Have you gents heard the new Jurowski M2? Gramophone raved, calling it the new "library" choice. I ordered it yesterday but it appears to be on backorder.
I mentioned it the other day. Stunning. Where did you try to order it from? You can get it from the LPO direct for GBP10.99.
Anyone have this CD? If so, please PM me?
Amazon US (it's $14.48 there right now and I get free shipping). Looked as if both Amazon US and UK had a 3-week wait.
Thanks to the help of a member on another board, I just ordered this CD. Can't wait to hear it.
Hmmm...another M2. I don't know, I don't know...oh, alright.
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