Mahler: Symhponies Nos.1-3

£20.00

Lorin Maazel leads the Philharmonia Orchestra and a star-studded ensemble of performers in Mahler’s first three Symphonies. This is the first 5-CD Set in a series that will encompass Mahler’s Nine Symphonies, featuring live orchestral recordings from London’s Royal Festival Hall of Maazel and the Philharmonia’s much-lauded Mahler Cycle. 

CD1 – Symphony No.1

CDs 2-3 – Symphony No.2, Resurrection Also Featuring BBC Symphony Chorus, Sally Matthews & Michelle DeYoung

CDs 4-5 – Symphony No.3 Also Featuring Philharmonia Voices, Tiffin Boys’ Choir & Sarah Connolly

 

SKU: SIGCD360

What people are saying

“… its wonderfully stylish: that hesitant Viennese-style playing-around and a lovely warm string sound …You get that audience perspective as if you were sitting in the hall, and its got all the energy and focus of a live or concert recording.” BBC Radio 3, CD Review

"The most successful reading is Symphony No.1, in which the mystery of the hushed opening, the gutsy resonance of the second movement and the frenzied launch of the finale are comparable with some of the best versions." BBC Music Magazine

"I love these performances, truly and deeply, and just a little madly." Classical Ear, April 2014

Philharmonia Orchestra

Lorin Maazel

Release date:5th Nov 2013
Order code:SIGCD360
Barcode: 635212036020

In London, during 2011, Lorin Maazel returned to all of Mahler’s completed symphonies, including Das Lied von der Erde. All were recorded and the nine numbered ones are due for release in three lots of three. Maazel’s monumental way with them will not be to everyone’s taste, too deliberate and not neurotic enough. But there is a musical and technical mastery at work that is expansive, subtle, detailed, dynamically far-reaching and compelling. The Philharmonia Orchestra and Maazel go back more than fifty years together and such rapport shows. Maazel beguiles with instrumental clarity and polish, and also opens the emotional floodgates with a sense of theatre that is thrilling, not least in the mighty Resurrection Symphony. Some will find mannerisms and exaggerations, others illumination and a wow factor. The recorded sound is true to the Royal Festival Hall. I love these performances, truly and deeply, and just a little madly.

Classical Ear, Colin Anderson

These live performances taken from Lorin Maazel’s recent cycle with the Philharmonia in London took me by surprise. Renowned for an element of showmanship and within a general context of expressive flexibility, Maazel is generous with rubato. Several of the main climaxes arrive with a good old-fashioned deployment of the brakes for maximum wallop factor. But the tenor of his style remains judiciously diverse. With the timing and pace of a natural opera conductor, he also shows how to spread and extend a climax through multiple peaks, magnificently so with the lead back into the return of the eight-horn opening theme of the Third Symphony’s first movement. Never sacrificing spontaneity to predictability, shape, purpose and direction are maintained throughout individual movements and each symphony as a whole. Excitement is full-on and spectacular, yet movements of intimacy can be utterly captivating; overall tension never sags. Mahler’s inner narratives are drawn with conviction, flair and vivid imagery wholly at one with the spirit of the music.

Some listeners may construe this degree of subjectivity and panache as playing to the gallery, but these qualities surely remain intrinsic to Mahler’s all-encompassing vision, especially in these early ‘Wunderhorn’ symphonies. Far better to give them their head when required, rather than the short-change or, even worse, pay awkwardly studied ear-service to them. Maazel’s prodigious technique is renowned, but he delves deeply here, clearly responding to these works from the inside with a huge fund of attentive and personal experience.

The philharmonia players follow him on every step of the journey with virtuosity and sensitivity, achieving a freshness and sense of wonder as though playing these works for the first time. The vocal contributions from choruses and soloists all take wing, with Sarah Connolly’s rapt Nietzschean communion in the Third Symphony a memorable highlight.

The sound captured in the Royal Festival Hall is wide-ranging, with outstanding solidity in the bass that speaks of balance from the podium and a listening orchestra rather than rigging after the event in the editorial process. The vaulting cellos/bass ostinato at the peroration of the finale of the First Symphony has rarely been articulated with such energy and prescence to underpin the fanfares blazing above. Clarity is maintained with space and perspective without undue resonance or saturation to blur the edges. 

More than many recent Mahler performances, Maazel’s resound with a comprehensive grasp and insight into the composer’s statement that his Third Symphony will be ‘a work in which the whole world is reflected’. This brings them very much into the Bernstein/Tennstedt orbit, yet they remain passionately individual. The live constituent adds enormously to their reach and memorability, but not as a one-off experience to be admired then consigned to the shelf. Their power and fascination offer irresistible bait to discover anew what makes this composer such a maddeningly compelling phenomenon. More, please!

Ian Julier, International Record Review, April 2014

Mahler’s Symphonies have been recorded by so many conductors – including Lorin Maazel with the Vienna Philharmonic – that it is hard to imagine what new insights further versions might offer. This release of live recordings from Maazel’s 2011 Mahler cycle in the Royal Festival Hall finds the Philharmonia, and particularly the brass, in fine form and the recorded sound is bright and spacious, while Maazel sometimes uncovers details of part-writing and orchestration that usually go unnoticed even in these transparent scores. All the same, as one listens through, doubts accumulate.

The most successful reading is Symphony No.1, in which the mystery of the hushed opening, the gutsy resonance of the second movement and the frenzied launch of the finale are comparable with some of the best versions. But already, in the initial statement of the vernal main theme of the first movement there is a slightly mannered slow-up before its resolution, and this kind of thing, together with a tendency to linger over lyrical episodes, more seriously impedes the on-going continuity of the sprawling opening movement of Symphony No. 2, though the rest of the work goes well enough. 

Most problematic is Symphony No. 3. The opening, with its primeval blasts of brass, is magnificently played and recorded, but Maazel’s tempo for the movement’s main march theme is staid, so that even at the rampaging climax of the development where the music tears itself to pieces, the effect goes off at halfcock. The second and third movements are curiously prosaic and the finale is so full of upbeat hesitations and expressive pullings about that, instead of coming over as a slow, sometimes fraught, but inexorable rise to transcendence, it threatens to dissolve into an episodic rhapsody. Frustrating, to say the least.

RECORDING – 4 STARS 

PERFORMANCE – 3 STARS

BBC Music Magazine, Bayan Northcott

“… its wonderfully stylish: that hesitant Viennese-style playing-around and a lovely warm string sound…”

“You get that audience perspective as if you were sitting in the hall, and its got all the energy and focus of a live or concert recording.”

 

BBC Radio 3, CD Review

Three years ago Lorin Maazel brought the Philharmonia to Hull for a remarkable Mahler performance, while at much the same time recording a complete symphony cycle in London’s Royal Festival Hall. Full of the great conductor’s fingerprints, the first three scores are high on drama and wide dynamics, his tempos often very spacious. The orchestra is in superb form and revelling in the music’s demands. The brass a powerhouse in climatic moments, the timpani hammering out rhythms, and the sound engineers capturing stunningly realistic sound. 

Yorkshire Post