Classical Music Discussion

Yep, I’ve heard that too. A stereophile review from the early 2,000’s indicated a sub-bass (Perhaps in the inaudible range) issue that when used as a preamp could cause woofer cones to pump back and forth. I wish I could remember when I bought mine, certainly before 2002. The serial number is no obvious help. But, here’s a head scratch-er, The front panel states SHA 1, the back panel after the serial number states SHA 3. I wonder if this unit was reworked before it was shipped to me?

Here’s a video by someone who seems to know what they are doing pointing out all the problems that could be confronting anyone with this SHA 1. My circuit board is blue like the one in the video and is supposed to be the earlier of 2 versions.

The first 14 minutes discusses the problems, the rest is the schematics the guy had to draw up from what sounds basically like a complete re-building of the main board.

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Finally wrapped up my Mahler 7th comparison project. Now to see if I can copy and paste it all in, probably 2 or 3 postings it might take. First, my spread sheet (I wish we could attach pdf’s or word docs but …)

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NOTES TO MY MAHLER 7th SURVEY

March/April 2021

Equipment: Emotiva ERC-3 AES to Schiit Yggdrasil 2 to: Schiit JOT 2 with Senn HD800 / HD800S or Schiit JOT R with RAAL SR1A and Schiit LOKI + as needed. Different equipment, especially at the transducer end, can deliver different sound characteristics, vastly different with respect to the transducers. Differences among the amps are not terribly great compared to the difference in sound signatures of the HP’s.

Methodology: I never compare more than 2 or 3 recordings in a given day. That keeps my impressions relatively fresh. I generally listen all the way thru making notes during the session, but may do some quick comparison sampling between different recordings with respect to the opening and closing movements. Some of these CD’s are SACD but I can only play the 2 channel layer which, in my opinion, is the right way to reproduce music.

Additionally;

The RAAL’s transparency and fine detailing trumps that of either Senn, (or any other HP I’ve experienced in the last 5 years), however, the Senn’s can provide a more satisfying listening experience depending on the particulars of the recording quality. The ability to run either amp with or without Loki (thru SE or directly from a balanced signal) is also a plus (if the recording allows for it with satisfactory bass) as that removes several feet of IC’s and their respective connectors as well as the switchbox and any degradation that might be introduced to the signal.

Recorded quality is a result of many factors; sound characteristics of the venue, equipment used, the producer, conductor, and engineer’s aesthetics, and the mastering process. Recordings made 60 to 70 years ago or more most likely won’t have the transparency or wide frequency and dynamic range capability or low noise floor of those made with today’s equipment. Yet many recordings from the analog era are better than many later day ones from a listening standpoint as well as performance standpoint. Especially as some record labels it seems were bedeviled in the transition from recording in all analog to recording in all digital as well as in the transferring of analog source material to the digital domain (as in recordings that are AAD or ADD).

But comparing performances of the same work is a horse of a different color. This will boil down to the conductor’s conception of how a given work should go and its all-important execution by the musicians as well as the acoustics of the recording venue. In recording bass drums, tympani, basses, and cellos there can be wide variations in sound character and output. Some halls support and enhance the bass, some soften the sound, some sound immediate, some distant, some tight and some loose. With all acoustic instruments in various halls the sound of individual instruments can vary significantly, especially those that can produce tones below say 60 Hz.

Timings of individual works or movements within a work can vary widely. And while a one minute difference in timing between , say, any movement of any work by 2 different conductors sounds insignificant it can affect the impression it can make with the listener. And as luck would have it the comparison of the first two on this list, Bernstein / Kubelik), point up exactly what I mean. Bernstein is one minute slower in that first movement and this allows the music to breath with more drama and excitement with forward movement because of where he lingers in the score and where he picks up the pace. Kubelik’s first movement feels like it is being rushed, and yet only one minute faster.

Regarding Mahler 7, and as with most symphonies, but Mahler’s especially, the opening and closing movements are bookends that hold the work together. The inner movements in addition to providing contrast and change of pace will provide bits of material that will be built into the finale in ways not always that obvious but that give his symphonies a “rightness” of completion that’s compelling when listened to all the way through. My comparison’s focus on the two outer movements for the sake of brevity but I did listen to the inner movements as well. Pulling off successful inner movements is not that difficult with this symphony.

Some conductors may favor different placements for the string sections as well as other instrument groups. Today’s traditional arrangement of 1st and 2nd violins left, violas roughly center and right of center, cellos to the right with double basses behind the cellos. This arrangement was adopted by most American and orchestras around say 1910. I’ve often suspected the “Modern”, sometimes called “American” layout may be a tie in with the beginnings of recording music for some technical reasons, and the popular conductor Stokowski was in favor of it. The hall’s acoustic may also have a bearing on placement of all the various instrument groups for best clarity of sound presentation.

MODERN or AMERICAN LAYOUT
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ORIGINAL or EUROPEN LAYOUT
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The reason for separating violins and rebalancing the strings in the older style was so that if first and 2nd violins were playing counterpoint (as opposed to the 2nds simply doubling the 1sts), it would bring out and emphasize the difference in the 2 lines. Also, rebalancing the orchestra in the older style spread the bass weight sound of the string sections more equally across the stage. (Side Note: Mahler’s use of the bass drum (sometime two) is extremely varied from individual beats to drum rolls and he uses them at very loud and soft dynamics and every possible way in between the two extremes to meet the needs of the music, often just to underpin the orchestra and not just provide explosions in ffff. )

These seating arrangements are not set in stone and can vary but “European” was most always in use from the baroque thru the late romantics, but varied by, possibly, composers indications and conductor’s wishes . I have several recordings done in the European style and I believe Michael Tilson-Thomas’s Mahler cycle with the SFO uses it, as did Klemperer and several others. So if your first listen of a recording makes you think the channels sound reversed, it may just be this rebalanced placement. The only live performance I ever attended with the “European” style layout was Simon Rattle guest conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in Mahler 9 many years ago.

One final note regarding the first movement, I refer to the “Moonlight” episode which happens around the middle of the movement, roughly between the 8 and 13 minute marks where it develops a short theme that blossoms on the trumpet to sound amazingly like the opening notes of the theme from the original Star Trek TV series and as done like in the Abaddo recording, truly sounds “spacey” or ethereal at points.

Bernstein: New York Philharmonic 1965 ADD Sony : Very good sound and not just for the vintage of the recording. This was well remastered in 2009 (the complete set of symphonies). This 7th is well balanced and well recorded enough that it doesn’t need Loki EQ with the SR1a and is fine with the HD800S with thicker sounding but not more accurate textures. This is a nicely balanced sound; highs are not quite as open as more recent recordings but bass is fully satisfying. The perspective puts a little distance between the listener and orchestra which I much prefer to a podium perspective. The mystery and darkness of this movement is spot on as far as I’m concerned. The middle three movements are done nicely and the finale is just the right amount of exuberance and joy without going over the top. The musicians really deliver the goods; this is a compelling performance start to finish. This is from his first go at a complete Mahler Symphony’s set and this is a uniformly good set of performances and recordings. His later sets are a bit more self-indulgent pulling tempos to the breaking point sometimes and losing the forward momentum of the music.

Kubelik: B.Y.R S. 1970 ADD DG : Typical 70’s DG sound: light on the bass and a little bright, threadbare really. Cool versus warm. It appears from the booklet notes that this recording (from a set of the complete symphonies by Kubelik) was not remastered but just transferred from analog to digital. In what year it was transferred –I have no idea. More satisfying for me on the HD800S even over EQ on the SR1a. The overall performance is quickly paced (as are all of his in this 10 symphony set). There were places where I would have liked a little less speed and others where I would have liked a bit more, most notably in the first movement. What this recording and performance does have is a spectacular reveal of all horns and brass lines that bring out fine details in their parts that is illuminating. But as sound this is definitely not a favorite of mine.

Tennstedt: London S.O. (Live) 1980 ADD EMI: A live recording. Good performance overall, Tennstedt always has a way of bringing out and clarifying horn and brass lines like no other conductor. (I only saw him live once, did a Bruckner 8th in Philly, wow!). Frequency extension at both ends is okay but the soundstage is flat front to back. A bit over bearing with its close-up perspective. And overall not a transparent sound with very little hall ambience and EMI was known for making some excellent sounding recordings, maybe it was the “live” aspect. Even with EQ not a very nice sounding recording on the SR1a, and only slightly better on the HD800S. I treat this as of value for the interpretation only.

Abbado: Chicago S.O. 1984 DDD DG: Still at the top of the pile for performance and sound and is unusually well recorded for an 80’s DG release. Tight ensemble on the part of the Chicago S.O. with fearless playing by the horns and brass make this a thrilling account. The first movement’s central “Moonlight” episode is about the best rendition I’ve heard yet. An exciting finale too! Great dynamic contrasts and inner detailing. Orchestral balances are well judged throughout. The SR1a does need a push at 20HZ on Loki to get the bass to my liking, and it was fine as is on the HD800S if not as transparent. I’d rate this a hair better than the Bernstein but would still want both recordings in my library. Note, this is the original CD release of 1984. A subsequent remaster was done in DG’s “3D” reissue series which I have not heard.

Bernstein: New York Philharmonic 1985 DDD DG : 20 years later he records the 7th again in full digital with the same orchestra but a different label. Overall timing is 3 minutes longer than the 65’. And it’s a “live” recording of a performance. One thing I seem to notice about live recordings is if the hall of the performance is the same one they regularly use for making recordings, it seems to have an effect on the halls ambience, drying out the reverb. Could 2 to 3 thousand people in the seats be acting as sound absorbers? In any event this is another good M7 from my perspective. The first movement still lacks some of the mystery in the central section that Abbado’s has but otherwise it is excellent. His handling of the 3 inner movements is also exceptional bringing out details that present some familiar flavored Mahler-ism’s from previous symphonies and some that fore shadow the 9th and 10th. He pushes the opening bars of the final movement a little hard but quickly settles down and the ride to the finish is fully satisfying. I still think the orchestral instrument group’s balances in the Abbado are a little better but this second go by Bernie is a little more transparent. Perhaps characteristics of the respective recording locales.

Rattle: Bournemouth S.O. (Live) 1991 DDD EMI: Overall tone is dark and plays well with the the 1st movement. The perspective is slightly backed off, which I like, and not so much in my face. Transparency could be better. Nicely paced first movement with balances catching a lot of inner detailing. It’s easy to hear all instruments individually and together. Moderate hall ambience (another live recording), deep bass is a bit loose and highs a bit restrained in this recording. I like a little more angst and snarl in my horns and brass at the end of this movement. Curiously, the final movement sounds like it was recorded at a lower level and I found myself advancing the volume to fully flesh out the sound. The drums sound a little subdued, I’d like more impact. Overall recommendable.

Boulez: Cleveland O. 1994 DDD DG: Great performance and recording, very transparent with good ambience, firm bass, and crystal clear sound. Unusual for Boulez he takes his time with the first movement and to good effect. Nice “Moonlight” episode mid-movement, I’d like a bit more speed for the closing bars of the 1st movement. The 5th movement comes off well. Something about the way he brings out the structure of Mahler’s symphonies is very appealing to me; he never exaggerates anything for effect. The Cleveland brass and horns are outstanding throughout the symphony and he closes out the final movement nicely. I’d recommend this along with the Abbado as top picks so far.

Chailly: Concertgebouw 1998 DDD Decca: This is a frustrating one. Perhaps the best recorded of the group, and even the best as far as any recording of any music in concerned. The performance is dull, tempos stretched to the point of lethargy and losing the intended effect (from my point of view). The overall result of listening to this was extremely disappointing to me. Of all the recordings I have of this work, this is by far the longest in timing in every movement. The Concertgebouw records in their normal performance hall, a rich, warm, slightly dark sound with maybe just the right amount of ambience, especially for Mahler. The perspective is just slightly backed off making for a very realistic sound picture. The Decca engineers captured this with fantastic transparency and clarity of the individual instruments. You’ll hear every note without straining. Chailly’s take is too deliberately paced; it drains the music of involvement for me. At almost 25 minutes the 1st movement is the longest of all the recordings I have of this work. Even the middle 3 movements drag at times. He makes Bernstein sound like a speed merchant. Chailly lingers too long over every note. Things are only marginally better in the finale taking away some of the magic and humor. Even more frustrating as, per the case notes; “The last movement of the Mahler uses the recently restored “Mengelberg timpani”, a special drum which was built for Mengelberg performances of this piece to play the climatic low D`roll in the full score”. You can’t miss it when it makes its entry. Surprisingly there is an accompanying work on the disc; Aphons Diepenbrock’s “Im grossen Schweigen” which is very well done. Sheesh! Some conductors believe Mahler can only be appreciated on an expanded scale.

Levi: Atlanta S.O. 1998 DDD Telarc: Another slow performance like Chailly and an OK but not great recording that was made with DSD. Transparency and clarity are not on the same level as the Chailly (or several other of the recordings in this survey). With regards to the first movement he tries to linger where he can and pick up the pace where he should, but just not enough. Both this and the Chailly miss the “whip-snap” aspects of the score making it a dull affair. Instrumental textures are not as cleanly rendered as with some of the other recordings. The inner movements don’t fare much better either. The finale lacks the humor and impact I expect. With any Mahler 7 recording the closing bars with a combination of orchestral bells (church-like) and cowbells is a test of the merits of the recording.

Gielen: SWR S.O. 2003 DDD Hanssler Classic: An outstanding performance and recording. The opening bars string “shivers” of the first movement are the best I’ve ever heard. Gielen has those strings pumping and chuffing like a steam locomotive and the recording captures it perfectly. Pacing of the 1st movement is about perfect at 21:49. Very good “Moonlight” episode. The sound scape is slightly backed off but with absolutely no loss of detail and the right amount of hall ambience captured. Nice middle movements and an exciting finale. The quality sound holds up throughout the entire symphony. Highly recommended and a contender.

Michael Tilson-Thomas: S.F.S.O. Live 2005 DDD SFO Media: Another fine performance from start to finish recorded in Davies Symphony Hall. A more immediate “on the podium sound presentation than the Gielen, maybe not as transparent maybe but hall ambience is good. Instrumental lines are clarified to a great degree. The “Moonlight” episode is good but Abbado still pulls off an almost “floating in space” sensation. The inner movements are fine and the finale finishes up very effectively. Also note; MTT prefers the European or pre-1900 method of arranging the orchestra with 1st and 2nd violins divided left and right, cellos alongside the 1st violins, basses behind the cellos, and violas center and right behind the 2nd violins. Another highly recommended release.

(These next 2 recordings are very similar as interpretations and timings, both of good SQ but they vary a lot with regard to soundstage, listener’s perspective, and the individual ambient qualities of the different halls the recordings were made in and the overall tone they give to the respective recordings.)

Zinman, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2008 DDD RCA: A straight forward reading, good hall ambience, nice 3D sound stage, gives almost a “from the balcony” perspective. It’s difficult to accomplish when recording because, (I’m thinking) of the reverb when the mics move farther away from the stage. No faulting the SQ either, tympani are picked up strongly by the mic’ing, and the snare drum used at the closing of the 5th movement has never been brought out as clearly from the mass of sound of the overall orchestra. The final movement never drags, and it is not over-played, again just straight forward and just right. As a point of comparison, if the acoustic captured in the Concertgeboew is rich, warm, dark the Tonehalle is just the opposite but not to the point of being lean and bright.

Fischer, Budapest Festival Orchestra, 2015, DDD, Channel Classics: One of the fastest overall performances (including the two by Boulez and Kubelik), yet not by much and it never sounds rushed. Good SQ, good transparency. The acoustic is similar to the Tonhalle but more presence with tighter impact in the bass region. Maybe a little smoother in the highs or is it just less detailed? Satisfying performance and recording with a bit dryer acoustic than the Zinman.

Vanska, Minnesota Orchestra, 2018, DDD, BIS: This is an interesting performance in very good SQ. This is a very transparent recording with a more “up front” sound. The overall tone is not too rich or lean. Makes an interesting contrast with the previous two recordings I listened to. Vanska has a way of accenting certain phrases that I find really bring out some uniqueness in the score; some barely perceptible micro-pauses (for lack of a better word), sharper attacks at some points in the score, tempos that make sense and enhance the flow of the music, a slight alteration of the dynamics, the volume changes. I find this performance more interesting than the Fischer or Zinman to my way of hearing it. He doesn’t exaggerate like Chailly, or go at it straight forward like Fischer and Zinman. The SQ is excellent and found myself catching little details not so much of instrumentation per se’ but of the impression this symphony leaves me with.

My Rankings:

My top 3 picks would be: Bernstein 1965, Abbado 1984, and Vanska 2018.

Followed very closely by: Boulez 1994, Gielen 2003, and Michael Tilson-Thomas 2005.

With nods to: Bernstein 1985, Rattle 1991, Zinman 2008, and Fischer 2015.

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Tremendous work here. Hard to digest it all in one go.

I have listened to the Vanska and really enjoyed it and will give the other 2 in your top 3 a listen. I agree with your Vanska assessment: Forward presentation with a nice tonal balance (perhaps a bit to the bright side on my chain) and it is nicely transparent and shows off a lot of micro detail. I often think that the BF2 limits my chain regarding complete transparency but that is another discussion. Audio chains that image and layer well should really shine with this piece. My Utopia with the Starlett on maxed out tubes (for me anyway) really sails through the Vanska.

It is hard for me to find the time to fully listen to the entirety of this symphony, or a lot of symphonies in general, which is a shame as I probably miss out on the whole delivered package. Because of that I really appreciate this kind of effort as it helps me to sort through what might be worth it and what might not be. For instance, I generally like Chailly and may have gravitated towards his M7 but your description has saved me some time. I am not a fan of “deliberate” renditions.

You touched on points regarding orchestral layout, venue, timing; I have found that as I become more familiar with favourite recordings I am noting these things more fully. It’s a very interesting exercise to go through, not only from an academic perspective but also to determine what most fully appeals to me. I seem to prefer more lively, faster paced recordings. I also feel that I prefer the European layout simply because I enjoy the contrast between opposed instruments groupings, the ability to counterpoint as you said.

Venues havent really stood out for me yet, I am still trying to sort through which recording house are the most consistently excellent and which performers are most consistently excellent.

Again, excellent work here.

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Fantastic overview. I haven’t gotten to Mahler 7 yet, so this will be helpful for me.

Similar to @perogie , I generally like Chailly, so it will be interesting to listen to his performance myself and see if I have the same reaction as you.

I really like Zinman’s Beethoven cycle, and I’m looking forward to hearing his Mahler.

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I’ve got the Zinman Beethoven set and his 2CD set of the overtures and incidental music. All good stuff.

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Yep, that Chailly 7th just didn’t do it for me. I plan to revisit some of his other Mahler (I have them all in single issues except #2). Based on the terrific job he did on the Mahler 10th of the Cooke 2 “realization” I was hoping for something else with the 7th. That 10th also comes with an outstanding “Verklarte Nacht” by Schoenberg as a fill-up to the 2nd CD. Only von Karajan and the BPO did “Verklarte” better.

For fun I sometimes read the music reviews on Amazon.

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Wow, what a tremendous post. I can see the huge amount of work that went into it. I really admire the passion and knowledge that you have for Classical music. I can see it’s a labour of love. Great stuff and an excellent read too.

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Thanks, my involvement with music began at a very early age, career wise it was one of those paths not taken. Now retired I can indulge myself in those paths as I like.

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Which performance did you like the best, sonics / recording quality set aside?

(amazing work. thank you for this)

I’ll listen to all 3 firsts over the weekend and post result.

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Well, I probably won’t be doing anything this weekend but watching the Masters from my recliner.
Music listening for me means relaxed and feeling good.
Got my 2nd Pfizer shot yesterday afternoon, woke up this morning wondering who mugged me!
Much more intense than Pfizer #1, but 2 weeks from now and I should be protected from the
worst case scenario if I do get exposed to the covid bug.
I was reviewing my spread sheets for all the Mahler symphonies, the only list shorter than the 7th is the 8th!
This will be a long project not including any new additions but I’ve got an open bottom shelf for those to come.
Snapped a pic of Gus’s bookcase he has all to himself. 5 CD’s are downstairs but this is the rest.
51 years of collecting Mahler. (LP’s from 60’s and 70’s eventually all got transferred to CD and I replaced the LP’s with their CD issues).

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I am blown away by this comprehensive review of the most prominent Mahler 7th Symphony recordings.

Is there any way this can be “pinned”, or kept for posterity? It is a definitive post on the subject that should not get lost or buried in a thread. Thanks.

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My wife and I are enjoying Moderna #2 today, having gotten it yesterday. Barbara was hurting and miserable all day. I’m lucky and just somewhat more lethargic than a middle aged mutant ninja turtle.

Oh wait, Bartok wasn’t in the group.

I have the xDSD being fed by Toslink from the TV and I just finished Aquaman on the Grado RS1e. I have got to find a mermaid for the aquarium :mermaid:

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Hmm… Bartok or the second vaccine dose reaction everyone gets?? Are we taking the atonal stuff or something different?

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2nd dose reaction. Bartok would be a good TNMT name, but has some nice legatos, which is how I felt. Muy legato.

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Well, 10 hours sleep and some Tylenol and I’m almost returned to my usual level of aches and pains.
For 24 hours it was just like having the flu; headache, stuffy sinus, fever, dehydrated regardless of how much water I drank, achy muscles, generally in a haze mentally. I had the flu once back in the late 80’s early 90’s (must have forgotten my annual flu shot that year - death would have been a relief). The only thing I didn’t experience yesterday was chest congestion and a pain that goes all the way into the bone marrow.

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I added a direct link to @FLTWS 's post in the OP by request. Great work!

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“Which performance (of Mahler 7) did you like the best, sonics / recording quality set aside ?”

Well, I finally got round to listening to all 3 of my top pics by comparing the 3 first movements in succession followed by the 3 final movements.

To answer this question I had to first examine my take on this symphony, which is not at all unique.

The final movement of Mahler’s 6th symphony alternates 3 tragic events with an attempt to surmount each, but each attempt fails. And the symphony ends in ultimate defeat quoting some bars from Schubert’s “Unfinished” symphony. This was confusing to many listeners of the time use to the general “darkness to light” journey of most Classical and earlier Romantic symphonies, as well as having more than 4 movements. (Perhaps that’s one reason why Mahler’s time wouldn’t come until the world had experienced WWII and the start of the nuclear age.) Fairly contemporary, but both deceased, Brahms (1897) and Bruckner (1896) both fit that accepted mold and were popular. Strauss didn’t always go the dark to light route but his orchestral output was in the form of Tone Poems and not structured symphonies. Mahler composed his 7th in 1907.

Mahler’s 7th seems to poke fun at many critics of the day (and remember, everyone’s a critic) being a “darkness to light journey” while thumbing his nose at the same time, especially in the final movement saying I can write a symphony that starts in struggle and ends in triumph. The drama of the first movement certainly fits the bill for an opener. But the finale is falsely grandiose, almost a joke as Mahler sticks his tongue out. I mean come on, the climax closes with both church bells and cowbells clanging away. There’s no sound of triumph in clanging cowbells.

Side Note: With audio reproducing equipment we have both measurements (the objective) and the listening (subjective). With music it’s all about the subjective only, as far as I’m concerned, unless you want to sit and listen with a full score in your lap to compare individual notes and markings for tempo, dynamics, etc. And where Mahler is concerned he mentioned on many occasions he expected and urged other conductors to “find their own way” with his symphonies, and his music is just flexible enough to encompass a wide range of interpretations.

And so…

Conductor Orchestra Date Code Label Mvmt 1 Mvmt 2 Mvmt 3 Mvmt 4 Mvmt 5 Total
Bernstein New York Phil. 1965 ADD Sony 20:47 16:38 9:32 14:33 17:55 79.25
Abbado Chicago S.O. 1984 DDD DG 21:24 16:36 8:52 14:00 17:41 78.40
Vanska Minnesota O. 2018 DDD BIS 22.42 15.23 8.38 12.24 17.30 77.30

First Movements:

Bernstein 61’: is exciting with surprisingly good sound for ADD and 1961 (full bass and not overly bright) with excellent front to back sound determination, with all parts of the orchestra nicely balanced and sumptuous lower stings. His plays faster than the other two but he hits just the right spots in the score having a feel for when to linger and when to push the flow of music. The strings intone the dark atmosphere in conjunction with horns generally held in their lower registers very well. His central “Moonlight” episode is straightforward without the “magic” of Abbado’s, but he wraps up the ending of the first movement well.

Abbado 84’: Abbado generates the most mystery in the central 1st movement “Moonlight” episode and gets exceptionally fine volume control from the string sections of the orchestra as well as getting the development of the trumpet theme to sound most like the original “Star Trek” TV series theme and I think he hits the closing bars of this movement with the best bang. Sound field presentation falls between Bernie and Vanska.

Vanska 2018: Vanska’s approach is much more like Bernstein but the sound field is closer in. It’s easy to get lost in the wide dynamic range and transparency of this and the purity of the instruments sound. Note he uses what sounds like a modified “European” layout. His “Moonlight” episode comes across like Bernstein’s.

Final Movements:

Bernstein 61’: It opens raucously and joyfully with a sense of abandon, more so than the other two. It has swagger and a bouncy sense to the flow. He has a lot of fun with this. And the combination of church bells and cowbells in the closing bars is brought out clearly in this recording where the cowbells sound suppressed in the other two. I believe Bernie’s take on this movement is exactly what this music calls for.

Abbado 84’: His final movement is more reserved, prim and proper, but with magnificent playing by the orchestra. It just lacks the punchline of the joke.

Vanska 2018: Perhaps too much controlled, needs more abandon, seem too deliberate at times. This is beautifully played and recorded but a touch more episodic with its presentation of the various themes from the previous four movements. The Bernstein and Abbado seem to flow more, but a case can be made for Vanska’s take and he does pick up the pace at about the 8 minute mark but then relaxes back a bit after that.

So, as for channeling the spirit of Mahler my top choice goes to Bernstein’s 7th in its latest re-mastering, which can be had with the entire cycle for just $40.00 on Amazon. The single issue is out of stock but may be coming back. The complete set is still a better deal. And his “Resurrection” is one of my top picks for that symphony.
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$16.57 on Amazon (only 1 copy left in stock presently) and available in MP3
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This is the original release which I have and some used are available.
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$18.71 on Amazon and available in MP3 as well.
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Finis

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Thanks.

Will give the Bernstein a try. I relistened to the Vanska again recently so this will be a nice follow up.

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