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Mahler - Symphony No. 7 Hybrid SACD

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Product details

  • Audio CD (19 Dec. 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD
  • Label: SFS Media
  • ASIN: B000B66OQM
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 270,703 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Symphony No. 7 in E minor: I. Langsam, Allegro risoluto ma non troppoSan Francisco Symphony20:43Album Only
  2. Symphony No. 7 in E minor: II. Nachtmusik I - Allegro moderato, Molto moderato (Andante)San Francisco Symphony15:35Album Only
  3. Symphony No. 7 in E minor: III. Scherzo - SchattenhaftSan Francisco Symphony10:11Album Only
  4. Symphony No. 7 in E minor: IV. Nachtmusik II - Andante amorosoSan Francisco Symphony13:33Album Only
  5. Symphony No. 7 in E minor: V. Rondo, Finale - Allegro ordinario - Allegro moderato ma energicoSan Francisco Symphony18:05Album Only

Product Description

Product Description

Hard on the heels of earning Gramophone's Artist of the Year award, Michael Tilson Thomas presents the seventh instalment in his universally acclaimed Mahler cycle with the San Francisco Symphony, Symphony No. 7. MTT has distinguished himself as one of the world's foremost Mahler interpreters and is one of the composer's most compelling advocates. 'The Seventh' is Mahler at his most mysterious. Sometimes called "Song of the Night," the work has a tantalising nocturnal quality: in two "Nachtmusik" movements and sonic cascades of the opening, inspired by an evening boat ride on an alpine lake. This live recording "is a magnificent powerhouse, the finest instalment in the project," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. As with all other releases in the MTT/SFS Mahler cycle, Symphony No. 7 benefits from Direct Stream Digital recording technology and release in Hybrid SACD format.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By rjmcr on 17 Sept. 2010
Format: Audio CD
With a handful of exceptions (a very strong Sixth, parts of the Fourth and the outer movements of the Ninth), this series has generally been a stinker. Presenting it all in state-of-the-art SACD sound is tantamount to putting lipstick on a pig.

This airing of the tricky Seventh Symphony is no exception and suffers from the same weaknesses I have highlighted in just about every other instalment of this series; thin and characterless strings, misjudged tempo, sometimes laughable rubato, lack of involvement, a limited range of orchestral expression.

There is `something of the night' to the first four movements of this work and a conductor has to be able to articulate that if he is to stand any chance of success in the finale. Tilson Thomas just does not have enough colours in his palette to project this music effectively; he does pretty, smooth and elegant just about all of the time and only offers variation through tempo. The charm and moonlit illusions of the Nachtmusik movements elude him completely, and he is scarcely more successful with the eerie `bumps in the night' of the Scherzo. His orchestra never sounds dark or deep enough, literally or metaphorically.

Only in the Finale do things pep up and it is, to be fair, one of the better accounts out there, albeit lacking in the élan and exuberance of Abbado, Bernstein, Levine and Tennstedt. However, this simply serves to emphasise the fault line that runs throughout this performance. Tilson Thomas seems to think that the challenges of the Finale lie in the Finale per se, not in relating its different mood and style to the four preceding movements. It is arguably the most straightforward movement Mahler ever wrote and should not be difficult to pull off, but it has to make sense of what precedes it.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Christian Hoskins on 10 Jan. 2007
Format: Audio CD
Mahler's 7th Symphony, with its highly imaginative and complex orchestration, would seem an ideal candidate for multichannel sound. However, at a time when 5 SACD recordings of Shostakovich's 11th Symphony are now available, this is puzzlingly still the only SACD version of the Mahler symphony.

Unfortunately I didn't find the sound quality very impressive in either stereo or 5 channel sound. The performance was recorded live and I suspect the engineers were constrained by the need to eliminate audience noise. Whatever the reason, the recording sounds close up and a little artificial.

The musical performance is also unremarkable. It was only in the finale that I found myself drawn into the symphony. With outstanding alternatives available from the likes of Abbado and Bernstein (both on CD and DVD), the San Francisco recording is best recommended to those collecting Tilson Thomas's Mahler cycle.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. S. Bower on 18 Nov. 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
How does one go about reviewing a symphony once famously described by Deryck Cooke as his "mad, mad, mad, mad symphony"?
Subtitled `The Song of the Night'. It might more aptly be described as `the baffling' or `the obtuse' Structurally, musically and emotionally, it seems to defy ready analysis. Frankly, I don't think I've ever heard a performance which makes sense at all levels, either live or recorded. Probably, Klemperer and Bernstein come closest.

This performance is no exception to the rule, alas. Well played and committed, it still sometimes sounds like MTT and his fine band are lost at sea. But they're in fine company, so are we all.

Personally, I just put it down to Mahler having a bad day at the office. And leave it at that.

Sonically, however, we can be far more definitive and clearcut. This is an exceptionally fine sounding recording. So have been some - but not all - of the others in this MTT cycle. But this live recording is simply something else. Its only rivals in terms of live recording veracity are some of the Kitayenko/Shostakovich recordings on Capriccio, which I just love to bits.

In short, this recording is spatially expansive, with beautiful layered depth and height (stereo SACD layer), timbrally truthful, dynamically unconstrained, transparent and highly dimensional. Bass is extended and natural (not Telarc-style hyped), mid-range and string tone is beautiful and natural - DSD at its best - and treble is liquid and airy.

It's not doctored to sound nice. It's just natural and truthful. As to the negative comments of the other revfiewers here, they seem to be in a class of their own.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Mixed bag but mainly on target 1 Sept. 2006
By Larry VanDeSande - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is Michael Tilson Thomas's second recording of the Mahler Symphony No. 7, sometimes called "Symphony of the Night" for its two sections marked night music (nachtmusik). MTT's first recording, with the London Symphony Orchestra, was received very well and holds a place of high honor in both the current Penguin Guide and American Record Guide's most recent (2001) Mahler overview. This production won MTT a Grammy as best clasical recording of 2006.

At 81 minutes, MTT's older recording put it about in the middle of the universe of well-considerd Mahler 7s, which range from about 77-84 minutes. This time, MTT skittered through the score in about 77 minutes, making this account speedy by contrast.

While musical pundits have considered this a song for the night because of its two sections of nachtmusik, Michael Steinberg's notes to this issue suggest it is more likely four sections of night music followed by the sunshine of day, announced by the drum roll that kicks off the final movement. "Few here will fail to be reminded of Die Meistersinger," Steinberg wrote about the opening notes of the finale.

I've not heard MTT's earlier recording so I don't know where he skips time or space to cut four minutes. This recording, made in concert in San Francsisco's Davies Hall and recorded in somewhat spotlighted SACD sound, may have gained time by way of the energy created in a live performance. The annotation says this was recorded during March 9-12, 2005 but fails to disclose the number of performances given during that span.

MTT's opening is wonderful, in my opinion. It is echt-Mahlerian -- martial, booming with oomph and heart, all the qualities that make up this philosophically confused and emotional strained composer. During the first Nachtmusik section, conductor and band seem to lighten the reins a bit and perhaps slacken. The third movement begins to sound like spotlighted sound. How does a tuba stick out like that in the orchestral morass of a Mahler symphony, anyway?

The fourth movement -- the second Nachtmusik section -- is makred Andante amoroso and Tilson Thomas plays this for every inch of its amorous nature. A spirit of quiet warmth and good humor permeate the section, which is a marked contrast to everything that came before it. In the episodic finale, where a conductor is most challenged to keep it all together, MTT reminds me of tactics he used in his recording of the Mahler Symphony No. 6, especially his tendency to speed up and slow down the motion of the orchestra in interceding sections of the score. It closes is flames of glory, carrying off MTT's overall message of humanity and ecstasy.

I wouldn't call this my favorite version of the Mahler 7 but it's certianly a good one. The hybrid SACD recording is very good -- marked by clarity, depth and projection of a very good on pitch orchestra -- but it would also fall victim to claims that the engineers spotlighted certain sections for added effect. While a fabulous sounding CD, it is not always a very natural sounding performance.

I'm not one to dawdle when listening to Mahler and I don't like conductors that drag out the music beyond its capacity to breathe and live. At 77 minutes, this version is on pace with my favorite recording of the score, the one by Vaclav Neumann and the Gewandhaus Orchestra recorded for Berlin Classics in 1970. I enjoy Neumann's overall conception more than MTT's, which is more literal and less atmospheric. Many Mahlerites believe the Symphony No. 7 is nothing but atmosphere; I do not hold membership in that sect.

And, for all the wonder of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra on display in this magnificent sounding CD, I believe the German orchestra did them one better three and one-half decades earlier, especially the fruitier sounding horns. I also appreciate the more natural sound of the older CD.

These preferences aside, this new MTT version should be a contender for everyone except those that must wring every ounce of angst out of the score, and it should become the preferred version for audiophiles willing to pay $27 for a single CD performance of this music.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Sensational and electrifying!! 28 Oct. 2005
By Robert C. Murphy - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I read with great interest one reviewer's critique who found this performance "sadly disappointing." I have been collecting the whole MTT/SFS Mahler cycle and being a native of the San Francisco Bay Area (but living in St. Paul, MN) I always try to show loyatly by waiting to buy the next Mahler cd when I am actually in the city on vacation. After reading the scathing critique of this performance I decided to break "tradition" and buy it here in Minnesota. I was puzzled because all the reviews I had heard of the actual concert perforamnces by friends in San Francisco were total opposite from what was being written. So after hearing a stunning performance of Mahler Symphony No. 3 with Andrew Litton and the Minnesota Orchestra, I ventured to my local record store and was able to find it.

I arrived home and took out my study score to follow along. From the very beginning opening rhythmic figure this performance had me hooked. I think the tempos are just right. In contrast to MTT's very fine perforamnce with the LSO on RCA, this one took my breath away from the very beginning. Because MTT recorded it just about 6 years previous, how can you expect it to be the same performance. It's a different orchestra, different space, etc, and plus the work is large enough that can take several interpretations. I do think those three minutes add to an even BETTER performance. While I love the previous MTT performance, I felt the tempos were just a bit earth-bound. This current perforance really takes flight and has a sense of forward momentum that I find bracing and electrifying. The sense of timing and the tempo relationships within the same movements are superbly executed. I evntually ended up listening to this cd 3 times in a row before I eventually went to bed! The orchestra sounds sensational and I didn't hear any of the intonation problems that the previous reviewer spoke of. I do wish the percucssion had a bit more presence, but other than I think this is the best the SF Symphony has sounded on the Mahler cycle so far. I didn't think it was possible, but this MTT performance has replaced the classic older CBS Bernstein performance as my favorite. I think the MTT/Mahler/SFS cycle has been very exciting. I am not as taken with the 4th Symphony becuase I feel that MTT maybe micro-managed things a bit much in that performance that it really does not take flight. Only two more symphonies to go, the 5th, which they just taped, and the 8th which comes around in performance in late May early June, along wtih the 10th of the Adagio and the Ruckert-Lieder will complete a very sensational, stunning and superbly executed Mahler cycle that will not be challenged for the foreseeable future! Way to go, MTT and the San Francisco Symphony!!
46 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Possibly the best of the series... 31 Oct. 2005
By Ian Shields - Published on
Format: Audio CD
As a classical percussionist who bought this disc, and spent the whole night repeating the experience, who then found that another classical musician friend had done the same with his new copy, both of us floored by what we were hearing and nearly brought to tears by this extraordinary performance, it was educational to read the following statement a couple of weeks later in an Amazon customer review:

"The seventh, Mahler's most enigmatic, complex, and orchestrally astounding symphony sounds here, in the hands of Michael Tilson Thomas and his San Francisco Symphony, commonplace, unoriginal, and boring."

Commonplace. Unoriginal. Boring.


There you have it. That's how different people's ears are.

This is why, in the end, if you are a musician, conductor, or composer, you can give up on asking audiences what to play. You have only your own well-trained instincts and interests as your guide. You must therefore damn the torpedoes, just like Mahler, and just like MTT and the SFSO do on this jaw-dropping disc.

I will not, however, tell you that you will be thrilled and grateful on every listen, as we musicians were that night, giddily wearing out our repeat buttons. I've learned my lesson.

You might instead have indigestion, or perhaps an earphone on the fritz, so you'll find it irritating.

Perhaps you are a Mahlerian interpretive genius, and Tilson Thomas is a pipsqueak and an ingrate who never calls anymore, so you'll find it arrogant and presumptuous.

Or perhaps, you don't like Mahler at all, in which case, you've done a very strange thing by purchasing this album.

But I will warn you (in my role as your therapist): it's not going to get any better than this, and you are doomed to disappointment for the rest of your life, so you might as well start the drinking now.

No orchestra has never been more attached to the conductor's cerebral cortex, no brass section more laserlike, no woodwinds more eerie, no timpanist more brilliant, no string section tighter, nor any conductor more poised within the prismatic structures, technical demands, and sheer loony energy of Mahler than this one.

Personally, I have a rehearsal to go to, and after that I shall go home, where there's a certain orange and cream colored album, and a repeat button that's got my name on it.

Bravi a tutti,

Ian Shields
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Resplendent Mahler 'Night Symphony" 29 Oct. 2005
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: Audio CD
In committing to a full cycle of all of the Mahler Symphonies Michael Tilson Thomas has kept the variables at a minimum - all are recordings made by the San Francisco Symphony, all are consolidated from a season series of live performances (three to four performances in as many days' time), all are recorded in the same space (here Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco), and all are in Hybrid SACD format. The results are as keenly cohesive as any conductor has been able to achieve and while not every entry in the cycle is penultimate, every entry IS superb.

The Symphony No. 7, at times referred to as the Symphony of the Night because of the inclusion of the two nachtmusik movements, is one of the more difficult of Mahler's symphonies to program. It is lengthy and it is episodic. It doesn't have the angst of the 6th or the vast adoration and vocal splendor of the 8th, but is does happen to contain some of Mahler's most creative writing.

Michael Tilson Thomas has Mahler circulating in his veins, and if his interpretations of each o these works vary a bit from performance from one year to the next, it is because he senses the spirit of Mahler and follows it. Only recently he changed the order of the movements in the 6th from his recording to a different order in the next season's performance in Los Angeles. Does this mean he is unsure about the works - or does it simply mean that he is attuned to Mahler's own doubts and idiosyncrasies he found in both writing and altering and performing his own works? I think it is the latter.

Yes, the tempi in this 7th are different than in his previous recording with the London Symphony Orchestra. Yes, the first movement yearns for a bit more cohesion. But take the entire work as performed by Tilson Thomas' own orchestra and the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. This is a treasureable recording and one that stands proudly in the great Mahler Cycle we are fortunate to be receiving on recordings. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, October 05
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
gets better as it goes, but earlier LSO one was better overall 27 Dec. 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I live in S.F. bay area, and I've become quite disappointed in this series. The 7th is one of MTT's stronger ones, along with the 9th. Here, the finale is quite good, although no better than on the recent Barenboim/Berlin Staatskapelle (Warner) M7. For me, the two Nachtmusik movements really lack atmosphere. The first one, in particular, is really prosaic - capturing little if any of the mystery implied. The second Nachtmusik is better, but the guitar and mandolin are slightly too distant (far closer sounding on the more "serenade"-like Barenboim). Equally bothersome for me, is that the allegro (fast) passages of the first movement are just absurdly fast - almost to the breaking point. Wouldn't it have been better to save some of that breathless rushing for the finale? It's difficult to fully digest the first movement at such a lickity-split tempo, as both the harmony and counterpoint are fairly advanced and "rich"-sounding in this movement. I feel that Pierre Boulez's 23 minutes works far better for the first movement (MTT is closer to 20). Worse yet, there's little atmosphere to the centrally placed, "moonlit" episode that provides much needed relief from all that busy rushing about. Fortunately, things do get better from the scherzo on. However, I just feel that MTT's earlier LSO effort was more consistant from begining to end. I also think that it was somewhat better recorded. But among recent releases of the Mahler 7th, it's hard to top the Barenboim - one of the best ones ever.
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