I’m back ! (I hope)

Long period of inactivity on Discophage.com, due to external circumstances, not lost interest for music and records. And now, I’m back, and for long I hope. Circumstances led me to need to consult some of my old reviews of Mahler’s 9th Symphony posted on Amazon ten years ago – can it be that long ago !? Seems like yesterday… – , so it prompted me to transfer them over here… and, in the process, to resume what I had interrupted back in 2011 (there was a “stray” review in 2014 as well): listening to and reviewing recordings of Mahler’s 9th.

So, here they are: the reposts:

Bruno Walter with the Vienna Philharmonic, 1938 on EMI (link will open new tab to the review)

Hermann Scherchen live with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, 19 June 1950 on Orfeo

Jascha Horenstein with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, June 1952, Vox

Leopold Ludwig with the London Symphony Orchestra, November 1959, on Everest, first version in stereo

Bruno Walter 1961 with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, CBS-Sony

John Barbirolli with the Berlin Philharmonic, January 1964, EMI

Kirill Kondrashin, Moscow Symphony Orchestra, May 1964, Melodiya

Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic, December 1965, CBS-Sony

Karel Ancerl, Czech Philharmonic, April 1966, Supraphon

Otto Klemperer, New Philharmonia, February 1967, EMI (in fact I had already reposted that one some while ago, when I sold the copy I had of another edition than the one I am keeping in my collection)

Georg Solti, London Symphony Orchestra, April-May 1967, Decca

Maurice Abravanel, Utah Symphony Orchestra, April 1969, Vanguard

Carlo Maria Giulini, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, April 1976, DG

And, a new review (first in a long series I hope) ! Rafael Kubelik with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, February-March 1967, DG

 

Tranfering reviews from Amazon to Discophage.com involves much more than just copy and paste. One thing I can do on my website is to conflate the reviews of all the successive CD-editions of a recording, where on Amazon I had to post a review under each. But then I  have to do a lot of online research to find suitable cover photos online of editions I don’t have and all the associated product information, e.g. label number and barcode. For those Mahler reposts I’ve also done a lot of research on Japanese editions. I also have to update all the weblinks contained in the review, or replace them with barcode of the referenced CD (I try to avoid giving links to Amazon here, or any commercial website)…. and I’ve listened again to those recordings, in part or total… and occasionally slightly amended the reviews…

All this takes time (I started those reposts on April 1) but it makes (I hope) each of the reviews posted or reposted on Discophage.com an entry to an ever-growing CD-encyclopedia; in fact, I’m not aware of any other website that provides not just detailed review, but complete info on the CD-editions. But, okay, I’m starting with ten, I need to go to 10,000…

In fact it’s the plan. For Mahler’s 9th, I’ve pretty well covered the studio versions up to the 1960s (reviews of Neumann with the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig in 1967, and Haitink with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 1969, are pending, as well as Paul Kletzki’s cut version with the Israel Philharmonic  from 1954, originally on EMI), but I still have a number of live versions to review (they’re on my shelves: Rosbaud, Mitropoulos with New York and Vienna, Barbirolli with New York, Horenstein with the LSO, Szell in 1969, Bruno Maderna and Boulez with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the early 1970s, another one by Maderna with the Radio Orchestra of Turin in 1972). And that, save one or two, covers all the versions listed up until then by the great Mahler discographer Peter Fülöp. And then I can “do” the 1970s and early 1980s, studio and live, and complete the pre-digital era. Then digital, from then to today. The great thing with masterpieces of the magnitude of the 9th Symphony, is that one never grows tired of listening.

I’ve also reposted here my reviews of the two successive editions, 1995 and 2010, of Fülöp’s magisterial Mahler Discography, not only because I referenced it is some of the reviews, but also because it is an indispensable purchase for the serious Mahlerite. I’ve updated the reviews with recent exchanges of correspondences with Fülöp.

P.S. Oh, and – yeah. Speaking (in passing) of Amazon: one more reason to hate them, read this.

7 thoughts on “I’m back ! (I hope)”

  1. My heartiest congratulations on your renewed very important work on your reviews.

    Now if they would release Mahler’s performance timings and conducting scores and instructions, we’d be all set.

    Bruno Walter’s world premiere Mahler 9th timing was slightly slower than his Vienna Performance.

    Laurence

    1. Hi Laurence, always nice to hear from you and thanks so much for your fidelity. How do you know about Walter’s world premiere ? I’ve never read that timings of that performance had been recorded. If they have, do we have just a total timing, or movement by movement? I just read an article by French writer Romain Rolland (a close friend of Strauss) who had attended Mahler’s performance of the 5th Symphony in 1905 in Strasburg (a German city then) and complained (among many other things he didn’t like) about its length: an hour and fifteen minutes. So that’s a bit of an information about the composer’s timings when conducting his own works… There’s also a letter to Mengelberg in which he states that the 4th takes 45 minutes to be performed…

      1. . The performance, which lasted about 70 minutes, was brisker than most subsequent readings—including Walter’s own 1961 stereo account with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, which clocks in at 81 minutes—but close to the “hour and thirteen minutes actual playing length” of the world premiere. So the 1938 recording represents a precious sound document, capturing one of the towering works of the symphonic repertoire as performed by the orchestra that first presented it to the public, interpreted by its original conductor (himself Mahler’s most eminent disciple), and recorded in its original venue.

        I’ve encountered other information as well:

        Kaplan encountered information for Symphony 2. First mvt 20 minutes. 2nd and 3rd 10 minutes each. The rest was total of 40 minutes. Total 80 minutes
        .22-11-14-30 # 6 Mahler

        23 – 12 – 15 – 32 Mahler 6

        20 – 15 – 15 – 40 Mahler 6

        (20 – 15 – 12 – 30) Mahler 6

        15 – 10 – 17 – 8. Mahler 4. I’m betting the 11 minute penciling for slow movement I actually 17

        20 – 10 – 10 – 40. Mahler 2

        74. Mahler 7

        85. Mahler 8

        73. Mahler 9

        68 or….. 69 Mahler….Symphony. 5
        13 – 14 – 17 – 8 – 15

        I’ll see if I can get you the Mahler 6th essay.

        Laurence

      2. 22-11-14-30 # 6 Mahler

        23 – 12 – 15 – 32 Mahler 6

        20 – 15 – 15 – 40 Mahler 6

        (20 – 15 – 12 – 30) Mahler 6

        15 – 10 – 17 – 8. Mahler 4

        20 – 10 – 10 – 40. Mahler 2

        74. Mahler 7

        85. Mahler 8

        73. Mahler 9

        68 or….. 69 Mahler….. 5
        13 – 14 – 17 – 8 – 15

        I’ll see if I can get you the Mahler 6 essay with the background.

        Laurence

        1. I realized that you posted the link to the Kaplan Foundation article under the other blog post about Amazon, so I am reposting my reply here to keep the thread’s continuity.

          Yes, thanks, got it, and there are also discussions on the timing fot the Adagietto of the Fifth – in fact, I think I have a complete book and CD from the Kaplan Foundation about it.

          But, the introductory paragraph of your previous comment (with which I totally agree): “The performance, which lasted about 70 minutes, was brisker than most subsequent readings—including Walter’s own 1961 stereo account with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, which clocks in at 81 minutes—but close to the “hour and thirteen minutes actual playing length” of the world premiere. So the 1938 recording represents a precious sound document, capturing one of the towering works of the symphonic repertoire as performed by the orchestra that first presented it to the public, interpreted by its original conductor (himself Mahler’s most eminent disciple), and recorded in its original venue.”

          Is that a quote from someone else (but who?), or is it your own? and in both cases, who is the claim from that the world premiere was an ““hour and thirteen minutes actual playing length”? In my own review of Walter’s 1938 recording, I write (sorry for the lengthy quote); ” I hesitate to call Walter the closest recipient of Mahler’s intentions as can be and his most truthful interpreter, not only because this recording dates from more than a quarter century after the premiere and almost thirty years after the work’s completion and any possible conversation Walter might have had with Mahler about it, but also because Mahler himself considered that the composer’s intentions were never definitive and were only those expressed on the day of performance. So there can be no certainty that Walter’s interpretation in 1938 can give an idea of the way Mahler would have conducted it, had he not died. Still, there is a direct line between Walter and Mahler, that only Mengelberg – another early champion of Mahler’s cause, much appreciated by the composer – can emulate; more important still, Walter’s interpretation in 1938 is unique and special enough to substantiate at least the thought that this is as close as we’ve ever had to the way Mahler would have done it. It is far removed from any later interpretive paradigm in this piece, especially in its adoption of brisk tempi in the outer movements that (other than the maverick Scherchen in a recording made for the Austrian radio in 1950 but that was published only in 1990 on Orfeo), no subsequent version that I know has paralleled, and it is filled with a unique emotional intensity.”

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