Mytools Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde; Mozart - Symphony No 40:Mytools
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Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde; Mozart - Symphony No 40:Mytools

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Published in October 20, 2018, 4:16 am
 Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde; Mozart - Symphony No 40:Mytools

Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde; Mozart - Symphony No 40:Mytools

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Penperlleni Reply to on 28 November 2015
From my review of the DG studio version-
I bought this when it first came out. It has been reissued and I do not know if the sound balance of this original has been retained. Beware that version of DG's Guilini Lied von der Erde has entirely spurious reviews attached including one of mine! Sadly we reviewers have no control over such matters.
I recently bought the two live Guilini issues one on Testament one on Orfeo. I am guessing that the chronology is
Live Berlin performance Feb 1984
DG studio sessions following the live performance
Salzburg live performance with the VPO Aug 1987.
Thus the two Berlin performances are very similar. The radio mike arrangement gives an overall darker hue than the brighter DG placement. The Salzburg Festival performance is overall a little slower but does not sound it. Apart from the applause at the end of the live versions the presence or absence of an audience is not a factor. Which of the three you prefer may well depend on your replay equipment. I am going to disagree with DC and RM who prefer the live versions. The voice/orchestral balance sounds better to me on the studio version. Individual vocal performance is very much a matter of swings and roundabouts.
Araiza is fully acceptable although not a particular favourite of mine as his voice can sound a little dry. I much prefer Haefliger.
Fassbaender had a head start coming from a singing family, daughter of Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender. She is a most expressive and communicative singer.
I would not be without the Salzburg version because I find Guilini's Mozart 40 liberally supplied with repeats quite irresistible. It lasts 35 minutes including applause but never outstays its welcome. This is even more laid-back than Uncle Karl.
They all get *****.
Update 30/11/15
As Mr Crowe likes this version so much I am subjecting it to repeated hearings to try to work out why I do not rate it quite so highly. It is a hard job. Put this in your CD player and you think you are in heaven. Araiza is really rather good. Fassbaender is almost incomparable. BUT. It is just a tad too slow. Lied von der Erde needs to suspend time. The best versions do. With van Beinum time simply ceases to exist.
But I am being hyper super critical and my view is very subjective. I am also very inconsistent. Like Mr Crowe I dote on the Bernstein version from Israel which is utterly different from van Beinum!
STEWART CROWE Reply to on 14 February 2012
This recording of a live concert is remarkable for the last of 3 recordings available conducted by Giulini with the same vocal artists. This time, the orchestra is the incomparable Vienna Philharmonic.
The concert begins with a Mozart 40 which is very much in the traditional, or old fashioned vein-in other words, it's big and it's slow (35+ plus minutes compared to 64 for Das Lied! That's SLOW). This will be intensely disliked by those who must have their Mozart lithe and lean. The more open- minded will find it beautifully and elegantly poised-wonderfully played and recorded-and if not how they always want to hear this work played, at least a fascinating and enjoyable experience in itself. Comparisons with Klemperer and Colin Davis in Dresden come to mind, and if you can take their style, you will enjoy this performance.
The reason for my enthusiasm is the Das Lied von Der Erde , a work with which I am besotted, with near 70 recordings at last count. So many have great virtues, but of late I particularly enjoy the live Kubelik, especially for Waldemar Kmentt's echt-Viennese unfolding of the tenor songs-and the recording under review which is my "non-pareil."
The Digital 1987 Salzburg recording made by ORF and remastered by Orfeo is sumptuous and detailed-I cannot recall this work better played or recorded, with excellent and natural balance, extraordinary detail and a real sense of presence. There are one or two audience coughs at quiet moments, and some occasional muted grunting from the conductor, but nothing of real concern. The orchestral playing is superhuman-just perfect, with the rich but luminous strings and refulgent brass that mark the unique sound of this, the greatest orchestra with which to hear Mahler.
Giulini's conducting is yet another surprise-swift, fluid and lithe without ever becoming anonymous, he lets Mahler do the hard work-in other words, he lets the music speak for itself. He handles the tempo transition in Von Der Schonheit perfectly, and never allows Der Abschied to become mawkish. The portentous orchestral section in the middle of this last movement is chilling and powerful, played with incredible weight-but does not outstay its welcome.
This is a radically different approach from his earlier DG and its broadly contemporary Testament live recording from Berlin, and it is revelatory in this work.
He has retained the same soloists, though Araiza is barely recognisable from his first recording. His voice has strengthened, with a truly heroic upper register, dispelling all criticism of "too Italianate"-one would believe he is a German singer, and his German is exemplary. He sings all the notes in opening song, like Heppner and Wunderlich but few others, with no snatched or shouted phrases-and if he does not dispel all thoughts of Wunderlich in this work, he stands proudly alongside him at least. Whereas he was accused of "not being involved" in the DG recording, particularly in the opening song, here is committed and as dramatic as could be wished for in each of his songs
I do not care for the more Contralto voice in this work-thus, though it may be heresy to suggest this-I do not care for Ferrier and Janet Baker, though as Ralph Moore points out Dame Janet is a true mezzo- in the female part, though Baker almost convinces me in the Kubelik. To me there is an over ripe quality to her tone, and I find a lack of expression in her performance-but that's a purely personal quirk, if you like.
I prefer a lighter mezzo, such as Christa Ludwig and Marjana Lipovsek, and for me there is no better interpreter of these songs than Brigitte Fassbaender.
She does not have the most assured rich tone of any of the aforementioned, but the way in which she uses her expressive voice to interpret these songs is a thing of wonder-and this is the best performance of those she recorded-she is in even better voice than on the first DG studio issue. I defy anyone to remain dry eyed at the close, not from sadness but from the effects of the sheer nobility of this interpretation.
You may have gathered that I really love this recording.
These matters are always subjective-but I have loved and lived with this piece for 45 years, and feel that I had not really heard it until this performance.
If you possess the superb Kubelik, or one of the myriad fine recordings of this work available, I am not suggesting that you discard it-but I am suggesting that you create an opportunity to hear this exalted performance, one of music making's truly great events and experiences. Unlimited Stars. Stewart Crowe.
Numero Uno
Numero Uno Reply to on 27 February 2011
This is a more than worthy rival to Bruno Walter's 1951 version with Kathleen Ferrier, though the latter is a classic I certainly wouldn't want to be without. For a start, the recording is much better - this is no second-best concert recording: voices and orchestra are well balanced and all sorts of detail in the orchestra which are not audible on the Walter are subtly touched in. The Vienna Philharmonic sounds a better orchestra than in 1951 too and Giulini coaxes the most delicate and lyrical, as well as the most exciting, playing.

Generally, this version is better contrasted and less bland than the same conductor's DGG recording with the Berlin Philharmonic, which isn't at present available anyway. Both soloists are admirable, especially Brigitte Fassbaender. She is a very different but very strong rival to Kathleen Ferrier. Naturally, her German is better and her phrasing more flowing. She is less outwardly emotional but makes just as strong an impact in a very different manner. The audience is perfectly behaved.

Recommended with all possible enthusiasm.

Incidentally, the Mahler is complete one one disc. The other contains a fine performance of Mozart's 40th Symphony, which may be counted as a bonus at this price. It is a sensitive, well-paced the tradition of Bruno Walter.
Darcy Reply to on 29 November 2013
These performances are taken from a live concert at the Salzburg Festival in 1987. Giulini gave his imprimatur for their release on CD a few weeks before his death in June 2005.

The notes to the CD tell us that, in fact, Giulini seldom conducted at the Salzburg Festival. This apparently had nothing to do with politics or rivalries, but was a product of Giulini's retiring nature which saw him spend several months of the year not performing music at all, particularly towards the end of his career. Consequently, he was either frequently not available to conduct at the Festival or was not an automatic choice amongst Festival organisers, or orchestras performing at the Festival. Giulini's appearance with the Philharmonic at the Festival in 1987 was his first for several years. His collaboration with the Philharmonic on this occasion in 1987 was therefore greeted with eager anticipation by audiences and critics alike.

The performance of the G minor symphony of Mozart is extremely individual and intensly interesting. It is heartfelt and yet the beauties of this piece are still conveyed with restraint. Giulini presents the work in sombre hues, established from the very opening of the first movement, which, rather than denoting nervous tension, has an almost mournful quality about it. Tempos in the outer movements are moderate and, to my ears, there is no sense of dragging, partly because rhythms are well sprung and orchestral voices beautifully balanced.

The performance of Das Lied von der Erde features the same soloists that appeared in Giulini's recording for DG in 1984: Brigitte Fassbaender and Francisco Araiza. Both are in fine voice for this Salzburg performance.

The 1984 recording was notable for its detached beauty, aided by the refined playing of the Berlin Philharmonic. The key difference in this live performance is the extra degree of flexibility that Giulini allows himself in phrasing, particularly in the farewell. The emotional temperature is higher, and Giulini brings out the darkness of this extraordinary movement to great effect.

Generally, throughout both performances, the Vienna Philharmonic peforms superbly. Solists and orchestra are not always perfectly together (a notable example is the fourth song). The sound is good, perhaps slightly better in the Mozart where there seems to be more air around the sound
Ralph Moore
Ralph Moore Reply to on 15 March 2012
This is a work that can get under the skin and aficionados can find themselves obsessively collecting multiple versions - of which there are many to feed their obsession.

My usual gripe is the with the tenor; it's hard to find one who can encompass both the lyricism of "Von der Jugend" and yet also cope with the cruel tessitura and declamatory heft required for "Das Trinklied". While I have never much enjoyed Araiza's reedy tone, there is no doubt that he is one of the best tenors to have essayed these songs, his voice sounding stronger and more robust than in his earlier two versions with Giulini. I still don't much warm to his basic sound but his performance is very satisfying artistically and technically, within the limitations of his voice.

On the other hand, I have always responded to Fassbaender's tangy, expressive mezzo despite its occasional looseness of vibrato and she is still in finest form in 1987. She has delicacy but also great intensity in her lower register - and it is a joy to hear two singers declaim the German text so tellingly; this was always one of her greatest strengths and Araiza's German is excellent. The valedictory "Das Abschied" is haunting and melancholy, building to a suitably otherworldly climax, the repeated "Ewig" both gorgeously played and sung.

Giulini seems to find the exactly the right tempo for each song and of course it is such an advantage to have the greatest Mahler orchestra playing with such energy and range of colours. Their wistful, gawky lyricism at the end of "Von der Schönheit" is a delight.

We have to endure the conductor's moans and grunts punctuating the rhythms but it's not in the Colin Davis league of distraction and audience noise is very limited. The sound is superb: warm, detailed and full.

The Mozart KV 550 is a big, broad, warm account of the kind that will annoy HIPsters, played slowly and lovingly in echt Viennese Romantic style - a kind of period piece you can sink into.
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