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Symphony, No. 4 Live, Import

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Product details

  • Performer: Jo Vincent
  • Orchestra: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • Conductor: William Mengelberg
  • Composer: Mahler
  • Audio CD (5 Feb 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Live, Import
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B00008FJJ6
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 674,272 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Classical Musician on 30 July 2011
Format: Audio CD
This famous recording by Mengelberg and his beloved Concertgebouw Orchestra was taken from a live concert in November 1939 and I can tell you without a doubt that the sound quality is one of the best and clearest I've ever heard from a 1930s recording. Here Mengelberg takes us on a magical journey of discovery through the thickets and undergrowth onto the glorious mountain peaks of Mahler's beautiful 4th Symphony. I believe this was the first ever recording of the work and so it retains a special place in the Mahler discography.

Let me warn customers from the outset - if you prefer a more classically-oriented approach to this symphony then beware of this recording! Some of you may know that Mengelberg came very much from the interventionist, romantic school of conducting when it came to Mahler (almost the opposite extreme to Bruno Walter), and so what you get in this performance is a very fluid, flexible and seemingly spontaneous style of interpretation, where the tempo changes almost every few bars and markings such as ritenutos and tenutos are emphasized much more than we are used to nowadays. Yet don't let that put you off for one moment. The first time I listened to this recording, even though my ears took a while to adjust to the sound quality and interpretation, I was struck by how imaginative and consistent it was. Even though it was 1939, the playing is of a very high order and I'm guessing that during that period the Concertgebouw Orchestra were truly one of the finest bands in the world (as they still are today).

Mengelberg moulds the first movement more than the others, so what we hear is a concern for intensity of expression within each phrase, where certain passages are lovingly caressed instead of being mercilessly thrown off with a shrug of the shoulders.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A door opened, a look back 4 Jan 2011
By Thomas Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've been listening to the DG recently released Mahler
Complete Edition Gustav Mahler: Complete Edition that I find absolutely superlative - except that I was disappointed with the inclusive of the 4th Symphony with Boulez and the Cleveland Symphony. So I have been listening to other performances, and I stumbled across an authorized Philips release of the Mengelberg 1939 reading of the symphony. I'm not a fan of historical recordings, and I'm suspicious of reviewers who wax poetic about all of the detail they hear in a particular recording (that because of its age or acoustic or early electrical recording technique or performance venue simply isn't there to be heard), but that's my opinion, and as I read more about this particular [live] recording, I grew more hesitate because of comments about the quality of the acetate used to make the master and the inherit defects of that master. So I decided not to buy the CD (or any of the many public performances CDs), and simply download the recording. I'm listening to it now and I am pretty amazed about how clear, detailed, moving, and wonderful this performance is... yes, there is surface noise, there are "whooshes" and a persistent ticking, but its not distracting, the ear adjusts. Here is a performance from a conductor who heard Mahler perform the piece, attended rehearsals (can you imagine?) and made amendations to his conducting score based on what he heard and what Mahler said. In short, this recording is a worthly companion to the other great Mahler recordings we are blessed to have including the many included in the "Complete Edition' box. One final note: I can't help but be moved by the occassional sound of the audience in this recording and Walter's 1938 Vienna performance of the 9th Symphony. What was happening outside of the Concertgebouw and Musikverein had to have influences the performances themselves and the audience members themselves who may or may not have survived what was quickly approaching.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
marvelous historical rendition, with pretty clear sound for 1939 22 Dec 2011
By John K. Gayley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a very, very interesting recording, for all the historical reasons outlined by the other reviewers. Whether one can draw a straight line between what the young Mengelberg heard Mahler rehearse, and what he incorporated into this 1939 rendition, is somewhat debatable, and best left for Mahler specialists. What wasn't debatable for me, however, was what this rendition added to my understanding of the piece overall. I heard things in this rendition (especially the 3rd movement) that I've heard nowhere else.

I have many other renditions of this symphony, but this will be one to which I will return frequently. (As noted by others) Mengelberg's flexibility with tempi were more extreme than you'll be accustomed to with many other interpretations, but (by gum!), they all worked very well...this interpretation is all "of a piece", so to speak, regardless of how it relates to those done by others. I also must throw laurels at the feet of Jo Vincent, for her clear, innocent and very straightforward singing in the 4th movement. IMHO, those sopranos who approach their roles in this symphony more...operatically...tend to distract from the mood and the intent. Jo Vincents's intonation didn't seem absolutely perfect, but otherwise she just nailed it for me. She's right up there with Lucia Popp (Tennstedt's studio version on EMI.) as my favorite in this symphony.

A note on the quality of the sound. I have heard both the Philips recording of this work and also the cleaned up version done by those wizards at Pristine Classical. The latter really takes the sound quality to a new level..I'd recommend finding this recording on their website and downloading...economics about the same (if not better).
Hors concors 3 Nov 2009
By Colloredo von Salzburg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This recording is considered the way that Mahler would have conducted his
own symphony. He really conducted this work with the Concertgebouw, indeed,
and Mengelberg took his mastery style from the own composer. I think this
statement says it all.
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