Mahler: Symphony No.7
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Mahler: Symphony No.7

31 Jan 2014 | Format: MP3

£8.49 (VAT included if applicable)
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 15 April 2002
  • Release Date: 15 April 2002
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • Copyright: (C) 2002 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:18:06
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001N2KQHQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,340 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Christian Hoskins on 8 Jan 2007
Format: Audio CD
This is a probably the best performance of Mahler's 7th Symphony now available. As with Abbado's recent recording of the 6th symphony, the playing of the Berlin Philharmonic is incredible, the best that this symphony has ever received. Not only are the first and last movements very exciting, but the orchestra also illuminates and hypnotises in the shadowy world of the three inner movements.

Abbado's 1980s Chicago performance is generally very good, but the extra exhilaration in the finale of this Berlin version makes it the one to have. The DG recording of Bernstein's 1980s performance with the New York Philharmonic and the DVD of his 1970s performance with the Vienna Philharmonic are marvellous, but the quality of the Berlin Philharmonic playing just nudges Abbado into first place.

As with many live concerts, the recording is close but well balanced. I actually found the recording slightly preferable to that of Tilson Thomas's Mahler 7 with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, despite the latter's SACD credentials.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By rjmcr on 10 Feb 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Abbado's second recorded survey of Mahler's symphonies has produced some real gems and this live account of the Seventh is no exception. It's certainly the best recording of this work that I've ever heard, even edging out my perennial favourites of Bernstein (DG [ Mahler - Symphony No 7 ]) and Tennstedt (BBC Legends [ Mahler - Symphony No 7; Mozart - Symphony No 41 ]), and it's hard to see how it can be improved upon.

It took me a while to appreciate Abbado's way with Mahler (I used to find him too restrained) but the more I listen to him, the more I realise that his only interest is in presenting Mahler's music to the very best of his and his orchestra's ability; it's always Mahler's Mahler, not Abbado's Mahler. That may sound worthy and dull but it in no way precludes excitement and exuberance, as amply demonstrated by this disc and his euphoric Lucerne Resurrection [ Debussy La Mer, Mahler Symphony No. 2 ].

The playing of the Berlin Philharmonic is exemplary and shatters the myth that they are not a Mahler orchestra. The sound quality in this series has been a little patchy, particularly in the Third and Ninth, so it's a pleasure to report that this recording is vivid and colourful, well-balanced and allows you to hear a great deal of detail within a warm and natural-sounding resonance. The Finale is particularly startling and perfectly captures Mahler's vast array of bells as they ring out to greet the bright, new Austrian morning.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Geoff on 7 Feb 2011
Format: Audio CD
It's very rare that I'd slam a CD for poor sound but in the case of this recent Abbado Mahler 7 potential buyers need to be aware of this issue.

There is a lot of microphone switching going on through the performance. It may not be immediately noticeable when listening in a room, though it does give a sense of unnatural balance and overall sound picture. However, when listening on headphones it is very clear that the balance changes from bar-to-bar, which is very disorienting.

It's extraordinary that companies with the pedigree of DG cannot produce well balanced natural-sounding recordings as consistently as they did 40 or 50 years ago. Their old Abbado recording from 1984 certainly sounds more natural than this, and even Kubelik's live radio relay on Audite is preferable.

The less than perfect sound is a great shame because the performance itself is stupendous with the Berlin Philharmonic on electrifying form throughout. A missed opportunity then.

For reference, here is Gramophone's 2002 review, which also mentions the same issue with the sound:

"Abbado's authority in No 7 is unquestionable. His 1984 studio recording remains one of the top three - less minutely responsive than the first, 1965 Bernstein (partly a matter of CBS's close-up sound), mellower and more poetic than the 1993 Gielen. DG's sound in Chicago was good, but I was hoping for more brilliance, less plush and a cleaner focus from Berlin, making this new contender a clear first choice. As ever, life is not so simple. Abbado's view of the first movement is little altered. With some tremendous horn playing and fabulously articulate strings, the music feels somewhat darker than before. The middle movements have lost none of their improbable delicacy and flair.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Abbado and Berlin in a triumphant performance 11 Oct 2002
By Bruce Hodges - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This outstanding new Mahler 7th is a testament not only to the piece itself - one of the most difficult of Mahler's symphonies to bring off - but to one of our greatest living conductors. Abbado's earlier version with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was excellent, but this live recording is really very special. From the opening measures of the sober march, to the riotously exciting pages of the finale, the performance seems to cohere in a way that lesser conductors can only imagine.
In between, Abbado directs possibly the spookiest sounding "Scherzo" I have ever heard, sharply articulating the bizarre sound effects, and the two shorter "Nachtmusik" sections are lovely. The final "Rondo," however is the section that I will replay most often. Somehow this movement never quite seems to be the climactic ending that it should be, but not with Abbado. As in the rest of the symphony, he takes it at quite a clip; perhaps for this particular work, faster is better. And "fast" only begins to describe the richness on display. This is utterly thrilling music - as wild and Mahlerian as it gets - and the ending is capped by a long ovation from an obviously enthralled audience.
With the Berlin Philharmonic in cracking form, this is a magnificent document and a superb example of live recording at its best.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Among the finest 25 Jan 2003
By R. J. Claster - Published on
Format: Audio CD
In my opinion, this is the pick of the lot among the latest series of live Mahler performances (the other two being the 3rd and 9th, both of which I find to be distinctly underwhelming, the 9th more so, compared to the best) by Abbado and the Berlin Phil. Here, Abbado's effectiveness in bringing out voicings and textures, together with his sensitivity to the Wunderhorn qualities of this music, impart both a lyric grace and beauty to the two Nachmusik movements, and a spiky spookiness to the Scherzo, that make both Bernstein-Sony and Solti sound rather plain by comparison. Moreover, Abbado also surpasses both of them in achieving a grandeur in the closing pages of the final movement, which, to me, renders it a truer climax for the whole work. The only criticisms of this recording I would make is that the epic first movement in Abbado's hands just sort of lays there, lacking either Bernstein's emotional intensity or Solti's muscular rhythmic drive, and the recording is somewhat lacking by current standards in both dynamic range and upper octave extension. Nevertheless, this is one of the best performances I have heard on CD.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Spectacular Mahler/Abbado.....a definite must-have! 21 Jun 2005
By DAVID A. FLETCHER - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Listeners have for some time been told that the 7th is Mahler's toughest nut to crack, that conductors bravely recording their way through their cycle of Mahler symphonies seem to always founder when confronted with this score. And indeed, I can think of a few outings that were less than stellar.

Fortunate for us, then, that the Mahler 7th has evolved into something of an Abbado specialty. His earlier recording with the Chicago Symphony has been a catalog mainstay for years, and still sounds quite well. So, what is there to say anew in this 2001 live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic? As luck would have it, plenty. This is simply one of the most brilliant, incisive, thrusting, and supremely artful performances of a Mahler symphony that I've ever heard.

Pacing is a bit on the brisk side. From the opening string figures, tenor horn solo, and wind accents, it's quite evident that Abbado is building momentum. And, it's achieved without any neglect of any of the ur-Mahlerian color and instrumental effects that lend his music the ability to conjure nightmare and ecstasy in the same phrase. The second and fourth movement Nachtmusik interludes are completely magical, with time standing still one minute--trademark cowbells and distant solo voices at their spookiest--and then twirling forward in gossamer fashion. Guitar and mandolin in the fourth movement "andante amoroso" are splendidly caught, enhancing the chamber-like moment.

The fifth movement "rondo finale" soon arrives, generously recapitulating all that has gone before. Here, as they have indeed in each preceding movement, Abbado and the Berliners emphasize the classic symphonic structure that lies just below Mahler's rich late-romantic palette. One senses the spectre of Karajan in the Berlin orchestra's commitment to presenting the musical architecture with characteristic vigor, but it is enhanced by a mercurial quality, an ingredient with which Abbado seems to imbue almost every live recording--not only with this orchestra, but others (his recent outings with the reconstituted Lucerne Festival Orchestra come strongly to mind). It truly is a musical magic spell that has been woven here, with Abbado's wand deftly applied to this, Mahler's most magical score.

No matter whose Mahler 7th you're personally devoted to, you really need to hear this.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Comparison: Abbado, Chailly, and Bernstein 25 April 2007
By Jonson Lee - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I hardly thought I would love the 7th as much as I had loved Mahler's other symphonies such as 5th or 9th. Recently, however, it has become my very favorite. I am now fascinated by its exotic micro-cosmos, colorful sonic spectrum and exotic instrumentation. I am enchanted by its dreamy qualities, nightmarishness and all. Most of all, it's an immensely entertaining piece of music that never shoves any sort of purposefulness in your face. As of now this is my most favorite of all Mahler symphonies.

The three recordings I've been enjoying recently are Abbado's with Berlin Phil, Chailly's for Decca, and Bernstein's DG recording.

The most distinct quality of Abbado's is the dark, veiled sonority of the Berlin Phil. It conveys the mysteriousness that is so characteristic of this piece. As far as the interpretation goes, Abbado doesn't linger on very much. But he does conjure up all the nuances in the music through exquisite phrasing and subtle rubati. The details have been illuminated with utmost craftsmanship but Abbado never loses sight of the representative mood of each movement. However, I would say the unique orchestral color is the main attraction here more so than the interpretative decisions.

The one word that might summarize Chailly's version is detachment - and that's not necessarily a bad thing for this music. His rendition sounds as if you are looking at a series of surreal events from a distance. You're not the person who is dreaming all these bizarre moments. Instead you're watching someone who is. A part of it may be due to the fairly far-mic'ed recording. But it's also because of Chailly's choices in phrasing and tempi. You won't find any trace of rhetorical gestures here. Chailly's is the embodiment of coolness. He and his Concertgebouw crew play up the details as much as Abbado and Berlin Phil do but they sound more like careful observations than involvements. Although this is not the most engrossing kind of performance, it contains some fascinating interpretative insights plus truly shattering climaxes with the percussions captured in full range. The ending is particularly impressive.

Predictably, Bernstein offers the most personalized vision. Here every note matters, which can never be said in Chailly's case. Bernstein injects his personal emotion (and sometimes opinion) into every bar. Lyrical moments are bittersweet. Nightmares are terrifying. The last movement is full of rhetoric that you would have a hard time finding in other performances. This is the version that most fullly exploited this enigmatic work. The downside is, well, it doesn't sound like an enigma anymore after being presented in such a specific way. Everything is stated and nothing is implied. There's little room for listener's own interpretations of the music. Still, it's a small price to pay for arguably the most gripping account of the 7th.

Then what's the choice? If you had read my comparison reviews on Beethoven's late piano sonatas (Brendel vs. Rosen) or Haydn's London symphonies (Jochum vs. Davis) you should be able to guess my recommendation. I wouldn't want to live without any of the three. But if I am forced to choose one, I would go with Bernstein's. As shown in many of the Mahler recordings he made, he simply loved this music more than others did.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Sustained beauty and energy, moving on deliberately and purposefully ... 8 Mar 2006
By Pater Ecstaticus - Published on
Format: Audio CD
While I have some favorite recordings of this symphony - I think of (quite different) performances from Michael Tilson Thomas [2005 (live) as well as his quite different approach from 1997], Bernard Haitink [1981 & 1985 (live)], Simon Rattle [1991 (live)], Eliahu Inbal (1986) -, this truly magnificent Mahler 7 surely fits within that high rank of best recorded performances.
Aside from the precision and beauty of playing, which is magnificent, I believe that the very special quality of this performance (and maybe in Claudio Abbado's conducting in general?) lies in the way that Claudio Abbado manages to sustain notes and melodies, 'energy', over the longest possible arcs, never lingering, providing the music with a sense of coherence - a feeling of the music continually moving ('flowing', 'singing') on deliberately and purposefully - almost unheard of; a dramatical, almost operatical approach. It must be this feeling of sustained flow and energy - its dramatic purposefulness -, combined of course with extremely beautiful and disciplined playing, that lifts this performance into those regions of greatness that is inhabited by only a few others. In this sense of dramatic tautness, I feel it is even better than his 1984 recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Also, to my ears there is a nice sense of occasion in this Berlin live performance. Anyhow, Maestro Abbado's Mahler Symphony No. 7 with the Berliner Philharmoniker sounds as tightly coherent, as highly convincing and as beautiful as one might ever wish. And all of the same is true, by the way, for his magnificent Mahler 9, recorded two years earlier, with the same orchestra on the same label. (And also be sure not to miss his wonderful dramatically sustained and at the same time almost lyrical Des Knaben Wunderhorn with Anne Sofie von Otter and Thomas Quasthoff as well!)
Claudio Abbado's Mahler, taken as a whole, as well as in any specific performance, is as consistently rewarding as can ever be wished for, I believe. And this particular recording of Mahler's 7th Symphony can IMHO be as highly recommended as any other great recording of this symphony.
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