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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't agree with everything, but......., 28 Aug 2012
Tintagel (St Albans, Herts) - See all my reviews
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At the end of the day, no matter how eminent a Mahlerian, and no matter how much any one critic thinks that they know all of the answers no one book is going to contain material that you completely agree with! But that's not the point of Smoley's survey, at least not for me anyway! The bottom line is Smoley's prose is sometimes lined with almost arrogant preaching and over-confident suggestions that he always knows better than the many conductors tackling these works. Sometimes he might, sometimes he might not. I certainly don't agree with everything he says, but my goodness what a starting point for forming your own views (wouldn't Mahler have approved?).

There is such a wealth of information here that any reader would surely be impressed with the depth and clarity. Although this discusses Mahler recordings 'since 1986' many of those covered actually hail from before that time but have been re-released since the publication of the previous volume. This means that you find Rattle's Mahler alongside that of Klemperer, Walter and so on. The writing is often very blunt, but Smoley also punches through when he loves a recording. The gushing, glowing appraisal of Bernstein's (then) Videos (now DVDs, of course) and Rattle's Mahler are as forthright as his almost amusing attack on Klemperer's Mahler 7 (oh how I agree with him on that one!!!). A wealth of detail is uncovered by Smoley and you will notice things in the recordings that you never heard before just because he mentions them. Again, you might not agree with his assessment of their worth or otherwise, but you will certainly think about it!

What is irritating, I suppose, is the impenetrable self-belief of Smoley himself. There isn't really any acceptance of alternative views at all. Every statement is a statement of 'fact', taking away the objectivity somewhat. But who cares? Just enjoy your own little private argument with Smoley's book and listen to some great Mahler recordings along the way.

Oh if you are one of those people who gets angry when a critic writes something you don't agree with because it means that they are stupid or just you are an infinitely better person don't buy this. In fact please don't read reviews at all because you clearly don't understand what they are for!!!!!
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Gustav Mahler's Symphonies: Critical Commentary on Recordings Since 1986 (Discographies)
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