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Mahler: Symphony No. 3 / Bach: Suite
Format: Audio CDChange
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2012
This is an oustanding set, full of detail, that stands repeated listening without any trace of fatigue. In fact I find that each time I hear it I discover something new about the work and continue to admire the interpretation and performance. As a SACD set of two discs the dynamic range is very wide, so that when the vocal alto soloist (Petra Lang who is superb) comes in the sound volume contrasts strongly with the orchestral climaxes in the earlier movements. This phenomen can take a little time to get accustomed, but it is a realistic level that one encounters in a live performance in the concert hall. Nevertheless on good quality hi fi equipment it gives an accurate and thrilling sound very much reminding me of the live performances of Mahler works that I heard under Chailly in the Concertgebouw Hall in Amsterdam during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The clarity of the Decca sound is marvellous with a huge dynamic range, massive banks of sound when the orchestra is at full bore contrasted with very quiet passages and lots of instrumental detail.

The final movement is marvellous with the fantastic ending on the double sets of drums that is absolutely perfect and far, far better than any other version of the work that I have ever heard(Haitink two versions: Concertgebouw and the Chicago Symphony, Rattle: City of Birmingham Symphony, Abbado: Berlin Philharmonic live, Tennsted:The London Philharmonic and finally Gergiev: The London Symphony live). I believe Chailly was voted top recording of this work on BBC Radio 3 CD Review, an opinion I fully endorse from my frequent listening of the performance. While I enjoy all the other performances that I have mentioned, Chailly is the recording to live with!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Until recently, my favourite version of the Symphony was Haitink’s Philips recording with the Concertgebouw. It is an extremely well thought out, paced and superbly played by the orchestra that seemingly can always be relied on to produce the finest Mahler performances. This is, however, well over forty years old and so the once excellent sound engineering can’t quite compete with more recent recordings. The problem has been that none of the more recent versions were as good.

Thankfully Chailly’s version is like a well-polished refurbishment of the original Haitink / Philips recording. The sound could hardly be bettered in a work that craves good sound quality because of the colourful orchestration and the antiphonal effects throughout. Chailly matches Haitink and the Concertgebouw are at their best. I can’t say this is the best available – I haven’t heard them all but you really can’t go far wrong with this superb recording.
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on 14 December 2014
The work:
I'm relatively new to Mahler and after becoming a Bruckner symphony fanatic I thought that I would grasp and understand Mahler's music fairly easily, but I was mistaken; His music is vastly more complex than anything I had listened to before. It was eventually the 2nd and 5th symphonies that allowed me a foot in the door to the world of this musical genius, then subsequently the 1st, 4th, 6th and 7th symphonies followed quite easily, however the 3rd has taken some time to grow on me...
I always found the opening of the symphony exciting and promising (the 8-horn fanfare) but was then put off by the following high-pitch horn motif which really seemed to grate me, although I think to a certain degree this motif and the opening of the 1st movement in general is supposed to create a feeling of unease and discomfort, which is all part of Mahler's great plan.
I recently set aside some time to be alone, sit down and listen to and absorb the whole symphony fully, to see if I could finally "crack this nut"; and crack it I did. One hour and thirty minutes later I emerged from my lounge feeling battered, bruised, slightly confused and yet at the same time elated, my heart still pounding, doubtless that I had just experienced something great. A few more listens later and I am still only scraping the surface of this amazing and epic world that is Mahler's 3rd Symphony. For me the feeling is the same as with some of Bruckner's symphonies: you don't come away merely humming a catchy melody (in fact I don't think I can recall a single one still), but instead you come away with something greater, at a higher, emotional level; a feeling that you have actually personally experienced something - and survived it.

The performance/recording:
I'm a great fan of Chailly and the Concertgebouw Orchestra; not only do they always sound great but they always seem to take a fresh take on a particular work. I generally make sure I sample as many different recordings of a work as I can, and while I don't favour any of their Bruckner recordings to the competition, when it comes to their Mahler series I think Chailly and the RCO has really excelled. I certainly favour their recording of Symphonies 1, 3, 5 and 7 above any other so far, especially the 5th which is outstanding (just in case you are interested, my preference for the 2nd, 3rd and 6th Symphonies must all go to Fischer for not only outstanding performances but the truly amazing sonics that really show off my sound system).

A highly recommended purchase.
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