Classical The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Sun, 16 Jun 2024 09:00:07 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Gustav Mahler - Das Lied Von Der Erde (Ewa Podles) [2002] Gustav Mahler - Das Lied Von Der Erde (Ewa Podles) [2002]

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1. Das Trinklied Vom Jammer Der Erde 	9:32 
2. Der Einsame I'm Herbst 	7:16   
3. Von Der Jugend 	3:12  
4. Von Der Schonheit 	7:06   
5. Der Trunkene I'm Fruhling	 4:45   
6. Der Abschied 	28:44   

Ewa Podles - alto
Anthony Dean Griffey - tenor
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Jarvi - conductor

02. 05. 2002


Ewa Podles and Anthony Dean Griffey sang last night with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the able direction of Neeme Jarvi in Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde." The orchestra demonstrated a virtousity that was a times breathtaking. Jarvi drew wonderful colors and heightened many intimate phrases that often sounded like chamber music. Most effective were the dark, brooding moments.

Mr. Griffey painted effective tone pictures when he was audible but lacked the vocal heft to be heard over the Detroit orchestra which was unmercifully at open throttle at times. The last time that I heard this piece here John Vickers sang the role. I know John Vickers, John Vickers is a friend of mine, Anthony Dean Griffy is no John Vickers.

Ewa Podles is that rarest of vocal types, a real contralto. Her voice is lush, cavernous, vibrant, and dark with a backward placement. It is unique and it is stunning. She nailed me to my seat with her opening phrase, "Herbstnebel wallen blaulich ubern See." Her dark timbre was used effectively in "Mein Herz is mude" as she sounded utterly exhausted. There was something odd about her piano attacks in this opening section. There was no clear point of attack. The notes began often with a slight delay, nebulously, as if it were not on the breath. They started at some point but it was not clear when.

She altered tonal color and achieved a playful mood in "Von der Schonheit", especially in that quicksilver passage beginning with "Das Ross des einen wieher frohlich auf", even when using chest voice to spit out "Wie flattern im Taumel seine Mahnen, dampfen heiss die Nustern." Another odd aspect of her technique is that she raises her shoulders when breathing deeply and holds her head back when unleashing a torrent of sound or when spinning long lines.

I have never heard "Der Abschied" song more achingly, sorrowfully, effectively sung than was sung last night by Madame Podles. "Ich suche Ruhe fur mein einsam Herz" was a forlorn plea expressed in utter exhaustion and resignation. In the concluding lines of "Alluberall und ewig blauen licht de Fernen!" she was finally ready to become a part of the constant cycle of nature. With the repetitions of "ewig", each note became more distant until the final note was left floating, disembodied, forever. ---Ron Magnuson,

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]]> (bluesever) Mahler Gustav Fri, 23 Oct 2009 15:20:47 +0000
Gustav Mahler – Janet Baker Sings Mahler (1999) Gustav Mahler – Janet Baker Sings Mahler (1999)

1 - No. 1, "Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgehn"
2 - No. 2, "Nun seh' ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen"
3 - No. 3, "Wenn dein Mutterlein tritt zur Tur herein"
4 - No. 4, "Oft denk' ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen!"
5 - No. 5, "In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus"

6 - No. 1, "Ich atmet' einen linden Duft"
7 - No. 2, "Liebst du um Schonheit": "Liebst du um Schonheit, o nicht mich liebe!"
8 - No. 3, "Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder!"
9 - No. 4, "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen"
10 - No. 5, "Um Mitternacht': "Um Mitternacht hab' ich gewacht"

Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen

11 - No. 1, "Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht"
12 - No. 2, "Ging heut' Morgen ubers Feld"
13 - No. 3, "Ich hab' ein gluhend' Messer, ein Messer in meiner Brust"
14 - No. 4, "Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz"

Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano) 
Hallé Orchestra 
New Philharmonia Orchestra 
Sir John Barbirolli - conductor


Only if you prefer, as Mahler did, a male soloist can you possibly want more; but if he had ever heard Janet Baker, he too would surely have changed his mind.

This disc is such a familiar face in the classical record catalogue that it has become the point of reference for Mahler song cycles. It would appear to be virtually beyond criticism, yet it is worth remembering that on its first release (minus the Rückertlieder) it did not meet with universal praise. Indeed, our pre-eminent Mahlerian, Deryck Cooke, found quite a few things that were not to his taste, particularly the over-affectionate phrasing from the conductor. Listening again to the now 35-year-old recordings makes one realise where some of that criticism was coming from, as well as making one sit up in admiration for the quality of musicianship on display, especially from Baker.

As might be expected with these artists, the songs that come off best are the deeper, more introspective ones. There is no better example than ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’, and many collectors will already know the classic New Philharmonia version from the complete recording of 1969. EMI do us a real service by including here an earlier recording from 1967 which was made using spare studio time from the main sessions. If anything, it is even finer than the later one, showing a truly breathtaking control of words and shaping. The half tones employed by Baker give the song an ethereal feel, an almost other-worldly atmosphere that is difficult to dislodge from one’s mind. The spare instrumental lines are beautifully played by the Hallé. Generally this must count as one of the greatest versions of this song now before the public, the only real comparison coming from these same artists two years later. The intensity is still there, but the sense of wonderment and discovery in the earlier version is something rather special.

These general observations could be applied to other songs on the disc. I was particularly taken with ‘Nun will die Sonn’ so hell aufgeh’n’, the first of the Kindertotenlieder. How wonderful Baker’s handling of the text is here, with the tone filling out majestically on the words ‘in ewig Licht’ at around 3’56. Listen also to Barbirolli’s illumination of the cello line at 5’20, where the moulding of the phrase is so pliable. The heartrending shift to D major in the second song ‘Nun she ich wohl’, (around 2’51) with Baker floating over the orchestra on the word ‘Leuchten’, is thoroughly typical of these two artists’ loving attention to detail.

Where they are less successful (and this is probably where Cooke’s misgivings were directed) is in the more youthful ‘Wayfarer’ cycle. Here there is no doubt that a slightly more fleet-of-foot accompaniment would have helped. They just about get away with it in ‘Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht’, though even here one feels Baker wants to move things on against her conductor’s wishes. But the second song, the famous ‘Ging heut morgen übers Feld’ is simply too plodding to be properly effective. If one compares Brigitte Fassbaender and Riccardo Chailly (Decca) here, there is no doubt the faster tempo and ‘sprung’ accompaniment is far more convincing. The wild storm of ‘Ich hab ein glühend Messer’ is also a touch tame for my liking in Barbirolli’s hands, where Chailly really whips up excitement. One also feels that Chailly observes correctly Mahler’s marking of without sentimentality in ‘Die zwei blauen Augen’, whereas Barbirolli teeters perilously close to it. Having said that, the constant illumination of words and phrases from Baker and Barbirolli usually more than compensate. It is just worth remembering that there is more than one approach to these masterpieces, and most serious collectors would almost certainly not be content with only one version of the complete cycles. As mentioned above, ‘Ich bin der Welt’ seems to be in a different class from almost anything else on the disc, and is worth the modest outlay for that alone.

Recording quality is excellent, full, warm and spacious, with plenty of detail. Affectionate notes (to match the music making) are by the friend of both artists, Michael Kennedy. Keen Mahlerites will probably have these performances anyway, but younger collectors investing in this new incarnation will have little cause for complaint.--- Tony Haywood, MusicWeb International

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]]> (bluesever) Mahler Gustav Fri, 23 Oct 2009 15:22:08 +0000
Gustav Mahler – Symphony No.1 'Titan’ (Maazel) [1985] Gustav Mahler – Symphony No.1 'Titan’ (Maazel) [1985]

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1. Langsam, Schleppend (Slowly, dragging) Immer sehr gemächlich (very restrained throughout)
2. Kräftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (Moving strongly, but not too quickly),
Recht gemächlich (restrained), a Trio – a Ländler
3. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen (Solemnly and measured, without dragging),
Sehr einfach und schlicht wie eine Volksweise (very simple, like a folk-tune),
and Wieder etwas bewegter, wie im Anfang (something stronger, as at the start)
– a funeral march based on the children's song "Frère Jacques" (or "Bruder Martin")

4. Stürmisch bewegt- Energisch (Stormily agitated, energetic)

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Lorin Maazel - conductor

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]]> (bluesever) Mahler Gustav Fri, 23 Oct 2009 15:24:08 +0000
Mahler - 2010 - Das Lied von der Erde (Giulini) Mahler - 2010 - Das Lied von der Erde (Giulini)

01. Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde
02. Der Einsame Herbst
03. Von der Jugend
04. Von der Schönheit
05. Der Trunkene im Frühling
06. Der Abschied

Brigitte Fassbaender - mezzo-soprano
Francicso Araiza - tenor

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Carlo Maria Giulini – conductor


Finely graded textures are one of the hallmarks of Giulini's Das Lied von der Erde, his first recording with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. The maestro draws marvellous playing from the Berliners, and on compact disc the recording is equally lucid.

Intensity is in abundance in the final Abschied. Brigitte Fassbaender is a highly persuasive soloist here, cool-toned yet phrasing with intelligence and demonstrating an acute sense of what she is actually singing about, while Giulini treats the orchestral interpolations as miniature tone-poems, etched in vivid detail without any necessity for superficial rhetoric. The earlier contralto songs go almost equally well.

Perhaps there has never been an entirely successful version of the tenor songs since Fritz Wunderlich recorded them for Klemperer; the reconciling of the vocal demands of a Heldentenor with something much nearer lieder singing is hard to achieve. The Mexican tenor Francisco Araiza copes well, however. Connoisseurs of Das Lied will need to hear this recording: in this of all Mahler scores duplications are almost essential. --- Record Collector (Mons, Belgium)


Taken from concerts in February 1984, this is part of a whole clutch of Carlo Maria Giulini's performances with the Berlin Philharmonic that have been released for the first time on the Testament label. Shortly after these Berlin concerts, the same team made a studio recording of Das Lied von der Erde for Deutsche Grammophon, a version that often seems to be overlooked when classic versions of Mahler's song-symphony are discussed. In fact, this is a reminder that not only was Giulini underrated as a Mahler conductor (his rather fine studio account of the Ninth Symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has just been reissued by DG, too), but that his soloists, Brigitte Fassbaender and Francesco Araiza, stand comparison with any who have recorded the work in the last 30 years. Fassbaender's sound may not be the most beautiful mezzo, but the way she invests every phrase with point and purpose is remarkable, while Araiza's lyrical, almost bel canto sound is worlds away from the heavier, Heldentenor approach usually thought essential in this work, but somehow he holds his own against the orchestral tumult. --- Andrew Clements,



]]> (bluesever) Mahler Gustav Mon, 23 Jan 2012 12:42:00 +0000
Mahler - Das Klagende Lied (1991) Mahler - Das Klagende Lied (1991)

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1. Das klagende Lied: 1. Waldmarchen  	30:15.09
2. Das klagende Lied: 2. Der Spielmann  19:44.73
3. Das klagende Lied: 3. Hochzeitsstuck  20:48.44

Ernst Haefliger (Tenor)
Evelyn Lear (Soprano)
Grace Hoffman (Alto),
Elisabeth Söderström (Soprano)
Gerd Nienstedt (Bass)
Stuart Burrows (Tenor)

London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Pierre Boulez – conductor


Mahler was amazingly precocious to have written this hour-long 'fairy tale for the concert hall,' which is already rife with his future musical style. At the time (1880) nobody appreciated the teenage genius--he began the work when he was 18--because the premiere of Das klagende Lied didn't take place for more than twenty years. Boulez approaches the work as a 'novelistic sketch' of everything to come. That's the secret of this performance--Boulez gives it as much energy and conviciton as he would to a great Mahler symphony.

I'm grateful to 'Mahlernut' for pointing out this overlooked 1970 recording. The lineup of soloists is twice the usual, becasue after recording Part 2 and 3, Boulez returned to the studio with new singers to record Part 1 later on. If you want to hear the work as authorized by Mahler, only Part 2 and 3 belong to the final score. The discarded Part 1 is more diffuse and less dramatic, but any lover of Mahler will still want to hear it.

I am not an expert on Klagende Lied, but I notice that for all the great Mahler conductors who have avoided it as a juvenile work (Bernstein, Karajan, Abbado, Walter, Horenstein) there are a handful of enthusiasts (Chailly, Tilson Thomas, Haitink, Sinopoli, Nagano) who have promoted it on CD. The Gramophone's standard recommendation is the Chailly on Decca, but given how well the present CD is recorded, how splendid all the singing and playing is, and how committed Boulez sounds, I'm happy to stick with his wonderful preformance. ---Santa Fe Listener,


„Das klagende Lied” to pierwszy poważny utwór Mahlera, skomponowany w latach 1878-1880, zaraz po ukończeniu studiów w Konserwatorium Wiedeńskim, i oznaczony jako opus 1. Dzieło wydaje się dość problematyczne pod względem kwalifikacji gatunkowej, gdyż sugerowane tytułem cechy pieśniowości można tu odnaleźć tylko w pewnym zakresie. Bardziej odpowiednim gatunkiem byłaby kantata, za czym przemawia obsada wykonawcza złożona z kilku partii wokalnych, chóru i dużej orkiestry. Albo nawet oratorium, gdyż dzieło ma charakter epicki, o ukształtowanej i kierunkowo rozwijającej się akcji.

Poetycki tekst „Das klagende Lied” pochodzi od samego kompozytora, który oparł się na spisanej przez badacza folkloru niemieckiego, Ludwiga Bechsteina, opowieści ludowej o tym samym tytule, a także wykorzystał baśń braci Grimmów „Der singende Knochen” („Śpiewająca kość”). Treść utworu opowiada tragiczną historię dwóch braci, rywalizujących o rękę królewny, a akcja dzieła została ujęta w trzy części. ---

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]]> (bluesever) Mahler Gustav Sun, 07 Mar 2010 19:25:39 +0000
Mahler - Des Knaben Wunderhorn (2000) Mahler - Des Knaben Wunderhorn (2000)

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01. Revelge
02. Das irdische Leben
03. Verlor’ne Muh
04. Rheinlegendschen			play
05. Der Tamboursg’sell
06. Der Schildwache Nachtlied
07. Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht?
08. Lob des hohen Verstandes		play
09. Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt
10. Lied des Verfolgten im Turm
11. Trost im Ungluck
12. Wo die schonen Trompeten blasen

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
London Symphony Orchestra
George Szell – conductor


'Des Knaben Wunderhorn' ('The Youth's Magic Horn') is a collection of anonymous German folk poems assembled by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano and published by them, in heavily redacted form, between 1805 and 1808. Since that time, selected items from the collection have been set as 'Lieder' by several composers, including Mendelssohn, Schumann, Loewe, Brahms and Zemlinsky. The specific term Lieder aus "Des Knaben Wunderhorn", however, is usually applied to a collection of some 12 settings for voice and orchestra by Gustav Mahler – though Mahler made more settings of Wunderhorn texts than were ever explicitly grouped together under that title and the contents of several published editions varied before reaching a final form in 1901.

Mahler's self-composed text for the first of his Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen ('Songs of a Travelling Journeyman', regularly translated as 'Songs of a Wayfarer'; 1884–1885) is clearly based on the Wunderhorn poem 'Wann mein Schatz'; his first genuine settings of Wunderhorn texts, however, are found in the Lieder und Gesänge ('Songs and Airs'), published in 1892 and later renamed by the publisher as Lieder und Gesänge aus der Jugendzeit ('Songs and Airs from Days of Youth'). The nine Wunderhorn settings therein were composed between 1887 and 1890, and occupied the second and third volumes of this three-volume collection of songs for voice and piano. ---wiki

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]]> (bluesever) Mahler Gustav Sun, 22 Apr 2012 15:01:54 +0000
Mahler - Symphonies No.1-10 – Maazel (14CD Box Set) - (2008) Mahler - Symphonies No.1-10 – Maazel (14CD Box Set) - (2008)

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Symphony No. 1 in D major “Titan”
01. Langsam. Schleppend
02. Immer sehr gemachlich
03. Kraftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell
04. Trio. Recht gemachlich
05. Tempo primo
06. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zã schleppen
07. Sehr einfach und schlicht wie eine Volksweise
08. Wieder etwas bewegter, wie am Anfang
09. Sturmisch bewegt – Energisch

Symphony No. 2 in D minor “Resurrection”
01. I. Allegro Maestoso
02. II. Andante moderato
03. III. In ruhig fliessender Bewegung

Symphony No. 2 in D minor “Resurrection”
01. IV. “Urlicht”. Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht
02. V. Im Tempo des Scherzos, Wild herausfahrend

Eva Marton, soprano
Jessy Norman, soprano

Symphony No. 3 in D minor
01. I. (1) Kraftig. Entschieden
02. I. (2) Langsam. Schwer
03. I. (3) Tempo I
04. I. (4) a tempo
05. I. (5) Immer dasselbe Tempo (Marsch)
06. I. (6) (Allegro moderato)
07. I. (7) Tempo I
08. II. (1) Tempo di Menuetto. Sehr mäßig
09. II. (2) a tempo
10. II. (3) Ganz plötzlich gemachlich. Tempo di Menuetto
11. III. (1) Comodo. Scherzando. Ohne Hast
12. III. (2) Wieder sehr gemächlich, wie zu Anfang
13. III. (3) Sehr gemächlich
14. III. (4) Tempo I
15. III. (5) Wieder sehr gemächlich, beinahe langsam

Symphony No. 3 in D minor
01. IV. (1) Sehr langsam. Misterioso. Durchaus ppp
02. IV. (2) Piu mosso subito. ”O Mensch! Gib acht!”
03. V. Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck. ”Es sun…
04. VI. (1) Langsam. Ruhevoll. Empfunden
05. VI. (2) Nicht mehr so breit
06. VI. (3) Tempo I. Rehevoll
07. VI. (4) a tempo (Etwas bewegter)
08. VI. (5) Tempo I
09. VI. (6) Langsam. Tempo I

10. No. 1 “Nun will die Sonn’ so hell aufgeh’n”
11. No. 2 “Nun seh’ ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen”
12. No. 3 ‘Wenn dein Mutterlein”
13. No. 4 “Oft denk’ ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen!”
14. No. 5 “In diesem Wetter” – Mit ruhelos schmerzvollem

Agnes Baltsa, mezzo-soprano
Wiener Sangerknaben
Damenchor der Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsoper

Symphony no 4 in G major
01. Bedachtig. Nicht eilen
02. In gemachlicher Bewegung. Ohne Hast
03. Ruhevoll. Poco Adagio
04. Sehr behaglich ‘Wir geniesen die himmlischen Freuden’

Kathleen Battle, soprano

Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor
01. Trauermarsch. In gemessenem Schritt
02. Plotzlich schneller.
03. Movement I: Tempo I
04. Sturmisch bewegt, mit grosster Vehemenz
05. Langsam, aber immer 2/2
06. Nicht eilen
07. Scherzo. Kraftig, nicht zu schnell
08. Etwas ruhiger
09. Molto moderato
10. A tempo I
11. Tempo I (subito)
12. Adagietto. Sehr langsam
13. Rondo-Finale. Allegro
14. Nicht eilen. A tempo
15. Grazioso

Symphony No. 6 in A minor
01. Allegro energico, ma non troppo
02. Sherzo. Wuchtig
03. Andante moderato

Symphony No. 6 in A minor
01. Finale. Allegro moderato – Allegro energico

Symphony No. 7 in E minor
02. Langsam (Adagio)
03. Nicht schleppen
04. Allegro risoluto, ma non troppo
05. a tempo (sempre l’istesso)
06. Subito Allegro I. Ziemlich ruhig
07. Adagio (Tempo der Einleitung)
08. Maestoso. Allegro come prima
09. Nachtmusik. Allegro moderato
10. Sempre l’istesso tempo. Nicht eilen, sehr gemachlich
11. Tempo

Symphony No. 7 in E minor
01. Scherzo. Schattenhaft
02. Trio
03. Wieder wie zu Anfang (nicht eilen)
04. Nachtmusik. Andante amoroso
05. Measure 187
06. Rondo-Finale. Tempo I (Allegro ordinario)
07. Gemessen! Nicht zu schnell! Tempo II
08. Tempo I (Halbe wie die Viertel des Tempo I)
09. Sempre L’istesso tempo

Symphony No. 8 in E flat major “Symphony of a Thousand”
01. Veni creator spiritus
02. Impló superna gratia
03. Infirma nostri corporis
04. Tempo I
05. Infirma nostri corporis
06. Accende lumen sensibus
07. Qui Paraclitus diceris
08. Gloria Patri Domino

Symphony No. 8 in E flat major “Symphony of a Thousand”
01. Poco adagio
02. Piu mosso
03. “Waldung, sie schwankt heran”
04. Ewiger Wonnebrand”
05. Wie Felsenabgrund mir zu Fussen
06. Gerettet ist das edle Glied
07. Jene Rosen aus den Handen
08. Uns bleibt ein Erdenrest
09. Ich spur’ soeben, nebelnd um Felsenhoh’
10. Freudig empfangen
11. Hochste Herrscherin der Welt
12. “Jungfrau, rein im schonsten Sinne”
13. “Ausserst langsam”
14. “Dir, der Unberuhrbaren”
15. Bei der Liebe, die den Fussen
16. Bei dem Bronn, zu dem schon weiland
17. Bei dem hochgeweihten Orte
18. Die du grossen Sunderinnen
19. Neige, neige, du Ohnegleiche
20. Er uberwachst uns schon
21. Vom edlen Geistercor umgeben
22. Komm! Komm!
23. Blicket auf
24. Alles Vergangliche

Siegmund Nimsgern, Florence Quivar, Brigitte Fassbaender,
Simon Estes, Richard Leech, Pamela Coburn, Wolfram Koloseus, Sharon Sweet

Symphony No. 9 in D major
01. I. Andante comodo
02. II. Im Tempo eines gemächlichen Ländlers. Etwas t…
03. III. Rondo-Burleske. Allegro assia. Sehr trotzig

Symphony No. 9 in D major
01. IV. Adagio. Sehr langsam und noch zuruckhaltend

Symphony No. 10 in F sharp major (unfinished)
02. I. Andante – Adagio

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Lorin Maazel – conductor


From 1880 onwards Mahler was a professional conductor whose composing activities had to be fitted around concert and theatrical engagements. Nevertheless, over the next 30 years he produced nine complete symphonies and sketches for a tenth, several orchestral song cycles and many other songs with piano or orchestral accompaniment. Mahler's symphonies are generally on an expansive scale, requiring large forces in performance, and are among the longest in the concert repertoire.


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]]> (bluesever) Mahler Gustav Sun, 21 Oct 2012 16:31:13 +0000
Mahler - Symphony No. 5 (Transcribed for Organ) (1999) Mahler - Symphony No. 5 (Transcribed for Organ) (1999)

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01. Trauermarsch 12:32
02. Strurmisch bewegt 14:15
03. Scherzo 18:10
04. Adagietto 9:34
05. Rondo — Finale: Allegro 17:05

David Briggs – organ


Organ transcriptions of nineteenth century orchestral music are seldom subtle affairs, and you need only think of the ludicrous arrangements of Wagner's music on Anthony Newman's 1975 Organ Orgy album to know how misguided such attempts can be. Yet in spite of its unlikely prospects, David Briggs' reworking for organ of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor is not a vulgar travesty. Even though it has a few moments that strain credulity (if not the performer's arms and legs), this transcription essentially works as a virtuosic organ symphony. Briggs has a fine sense of Romantic registration and he employs the stops of the Gloucester Cathedral organ in rich combinations, not unlike the colors one finds in the organ works of Saint-Saëns, Widor, or Vierne, and which work surprisingly well for Mahler. Of course, even with a lavish array of stops, the organ cannot reproduce the finely shaded dynamics and incisive orchestration of the symphony, and many of Mahler's wispy, swelling, throbbing, or biting sonorities are reduced to flatter and less effective timbres, or just bypassed for the sake of simplification. Yet Briggs' intentions are honorable, and he tries to simulate as much of the orchestration and original textures as possible on four manuals and pedals, and he succeeds in many ingenious passages. It takes a little time to adjust to hearing this familiar masterwork in a different guise, but once past initial misgivings over the strangeness of the Trauermarsch or the awkwardness of the Sturmisch bewegt, the listener can begin to get quite comfortable with the transformation and even accept the Scherzo and the Adagietto as well-suited to this instrument; by the Rondo-Finale, Mahler's dazzling fugal textures begin to sound as if they were conceived for organ, rather like some of César Franck's most ecstatic counterpoint. While this elaborate re-creation of Mahler's Symphony No. 5 is generally successful and strangely likable, it is definitely not recommended as a first choice for newcomers; if you've never heard it before, listen to the orchestral original first. But for those who know the piece well, Briggs' CD is much more than a novelty album and worth at least one fair hearing. ---Blair Sanderson, Rovi


Before considering David Briggs' transcription of Gustav Mahler's Symphony no. 5 or his performance of it, it is important to note that Briggs is a British organist playing a British organ. Transcribed for and performed on a French organ, the result would be more "symphonic," as French organ-builders have leaned much more toward imitating the sounds of instruments and voices. The organ of Gloucester Cathedral, however, is a 20th-century rebuilding of what is essentially a 17th-century instrument. The effect on Briggs' transcription is that rather than attempting to produce an orchestral sound, he reconceived the work to sound well on the organ.

All of that said, Briggs has done an admirable job of carrying off Mahler's symphony in his own medium--although the specific sounds are different, he has captured the work's essences. His playing is superb, from the smallest pianissimos of the Adagietto to the full-out, both-hands-both-feet finale. Expect an organ symphony and you're in for an engaging listen; expect an orchestral symphony and you'll be disappointed...until you listen again!

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