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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and inspiring,
Mahler is famous for having said that a symphony should be a whole world. And the Third, the biggest of the lot at least in duration, is a prime example of this. The subtitles he originally gave to the movements and later withdrew (What the Flowers Tell Me, What the Animals Tell Me, etc.) has perhaps encouraged the view that it is nothing more than a gigantic tone poem on aspects of this whole world. Mahler, however, was never less than a serious symphonic thinker.
This is brought home by Rattle's interpretation, particularly of the first movement. This movement can easily degenerate into a great sprawling mass. It is actually a perfectly logical development and expansion of classical sonata-form with a big slow introduction that takes two goes to launch itself properly into the allegro material as well as two separate development sections and a big coda. The structure is supported on pillars of the opening horn theme and satellite motifs derived from it. This reappears at crucial points in the structure, usually on the massed horns again or on the brass, and Rattle ensures that, at every appearance, it is given its full weight and import, often over the thickest textures. Even more illuminating is Rattle's approach to the slow introduction. He clearly sees the whole movement as a symphonic essay on the March (Mahler's original title for the movement was 'Summer Marches In') and he sets out his stall from the start. Amidst all the subterranean rumblings and upheavals, the lava spurts on the trumpet and the thunder-thwacks of the timpani (all gloriously recorded, by the way) there is the insistent slow march rhythm with the triplets of the bass drum. It's as if, in this picture of the creation of Nature, it is the nature of march itself that is trying to break free from the chrysalis. This becomes even clearer in the second round of the introduction, when this regular march rhythm is set against the very free and fluid rubato of the trombone's recitative (richly and gloriously played). When the big March finally lets rip in all its wonderful Mahlerian banality, with Rattle it is a truly cathartic moment as the conductor gives the piccolos free reign to shout out the tune above the pandemonium.
The other movements will have to get rather briefer attention. The 'Flower' movement has all the required delicacy with a scary edge to icy blast that whips across it. There is a truly magical hush that descends on the orchestra as the animal's listen to man's romantic posthorn intrusion and Rattle wisely and uniquely recognises that the accelerando at the end is written into the music and does not need artificial help. Birgit Remmert in the Nietzsche movement could be a little more mezzo, a little less soprano for my taste. And it is here that we find Rattle's controversial interpretation of Mahler's Naturlauten (Nature Sounds) on the oboe and cor anglais where he asks his instrumentalists to bend the notes up in a kind of woodwind glissando - perfectly justified, it seems to me, by the text. The choirs make glorious bells in the Wunderhorn movement and the final adagio glows and radiates while always kept moving. The last two pages of the symphony do not resort to the usual vulgar and exaggerated ritardando - only the very final note is sustained to the length befitting the conclusion of such a huge symphony.
EMI, presumably at Rattle's behest, carefully observe the pauses Mahler asks for between the movements - a long pause after the first movement, standard pauses after the next two and the last three played together attaca. Which, of course, makes of the symphony a classical four movement structure.
It should already be clear that the CBSO's playing and EMI's recording fully live up to Sir Simon's interpretation. There are certainly other strong contenders for a first choice for this symphony - Bernstein and the New Yorkers, Horenstein, Barbirolli for starters - but Rattle, as always in his Mahler, is never less than thought-provoking and often as here inspiring.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mahler's Third with a sting in the tail,
In many ways this is an absolutely superb recording of Mahler's Third Symphony. It's certainly one of the best-played I've ever heard, with the CBSO on world-beating form. It also benefits from high-quality sound engineering, with all the hallmarks of this team's work in Birmingham; instrumental clarity, richness of tone, a generous dynamic range and the handsome acoustic of an empty Symphony Hall. So far, so good.
However, where Rattle's treatment of the music is concerned, a few reservations creep in. His first movement is generally very strong, although I would have liked a bit more bite from the brass in the opening bars. The `summer march' episode also feels just a little restrained although the off-stage effects are very well-managed. He does let rip in the final bars though and the Birmingham players really bring it home with exuberance and panache, the final chord making a tremendous impact.
The second movement starts very well (the pizzicato strings sounding like raindrops on Mahler's flowers) but the rest of the movement feels too mannered. This is a botanist's approach to `What the Flowers Tell Me', too hung up on analytical detail at the expense of a wider picture; I don't think Rattle can see the meadow for the flowers.
I started to get a bit worried when the third movement began the same way, but Rattle soon loosens his collar and draws a virtuoso performance out of his orchestra. For me, this movement is the high point of this recording, its own highlight being the best posthorn solo I've ever heard. It's played immaculately and attacked with real confidence and commitment but still sounds dreamy and relaxed - quite a feat! When the trumpet burst in at the end, like a reveille, it literally snapped me back into the here and now and I couldn't help smiling at the effectiveness of Mahler's score here. That amazing moment when Mahler seems to plunge us from the sky into the depths of the ocean is magically done, with sparkling, swirling harps and brilliantly sonorous brass. Rattle then wraps it all up with a dazzling flamboyance without taking his eye off the tempo and rushing it. Fantastic!
For a younger singer, Birgit Remmert has the right amount of gravitas in her voice to convey the psychological depths of the fourth movement song and she receives exquisite support from Rattle and his players. The treatment of Mahler's `hinaufziehen' marking for clarinet and oboe may raise an eyebrow, however. Personally, I think the upward glissando works very well but I couldn't help thinking that it was being highlighted by the sound engineers. The oboe, in particular, is rather too prominent and sounds like somebody was trying to underline a point (Abbado on DG manages it more subtly, I feel [ Mahler: Symphony No.3 ] ). Still, it's refreshing that a conductor has actually given it some thought and tried something new.
The spirited fifth movement is really beautifully done and highlights just what a superb group of performers the CBSO Chorus is. I would have preferred them to have been accompanied by a boys' chorus rather than the children's chorus we have here but, as I say, beautifully done.
As is the Finale, on the whole. The string playing is just sublime and the players really exploit the potential of Symphony Hall's acoustic. I heard phrases I had never heard before, and that always endears a new recording to me. The great climaxes also have tremendous cumulative power and impact and no lack of passion or fervour. Right up until the final minute I had this recording pencilled in as one to sit on my shelf alongside my current favourites. But then Rattle inexplicably quickens the tempo and, for me, this all but ruins the whole recording. I don't read music so I don't know if there is any justification for this in the score, but I've never heard anybody else close the symphony in this way and it seems completely out of character with the preceding twenty minutes of music which Mahler does, after all, mark `Langsam' or `slowly'. I've listened to it several times now and I still don't get it. To me, it's as inappropriate as ending Tristan und Isolde with a joke.
For this reason and others - not least his more flamboyant way with the first movement and the incomparable solo contribution of Christa Ludwig - Bernstein's DG recording remains my favourite ( Mahler: Symphony No.3 ), despite the slightly foggy sound. However, I just can't bring myself to discard Rattle. Too much of what he does is just too good and I find myself returning to this set every so often. Until I find a recording that marries the grand vision of Bernstein with the vivid sound and textural clarity of Rattle, I guess I always will.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational and breathtakingly beautiful interpretation,
By A Customer
This, quite simply, is the most exhilarating, most accurate, most sensitive and most breathtakingly beautiful recording of a Mahler symphony that I have ever heard. Recorded in the accoustically outstanding Symphony Hall, the quality of the sound is perfectly crisp; every small detail of Mahler's inspirational orchestration can be heard. Sir Simon Rattle manages to control the huge forces of the CBSO with both dignity and flair. One of the highlights of the recording is the virtuosity with which the fiendishly difficult violin passages in the second movement are pulled off; the security of the ensemble is incredibly tight here and Rattle seems to be able to take this for granted in his fluid interpretation (perhaps spot on in the eyes of Mahler apart from the strangely swift final phrase of the last movement) of the work. The songs which bring the second CD to a close are a welcome bonus but are really nothing more than a space-filler after the epic main attraction.
5.0 out of 5 stars Opened my eyes (and ears) to this work,
I have a bit of a thing for Mahler, largely thanks to Simon Rattle's unbeatable 2nd symphony. But for some reason the third never quite did it for me, and I can't for the life of me think why.
I've had the pleasure of hearing Sir Simon conduct the 2nd and 8th live (his final Birmingham concert and his Proms 8th) but I also managed to hear him conduct this, and I sat there kicking myself for not listening properly to this work sooner. The solo vocal movement, and the children's chorus are delightful - moving and entertaining in their turn. The long, tender slow movement is ecstatic. I whiled away the better part of a train journey from Scotland to London listening to this more than once.
Writing this review I'm minded to dig out my CDs and set aside the hour plus needed for it. Don't do anything else while it's playing. Enjoy.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mahler symphony No 3,
This is a vast symphony that is sensitively performed by a leading UK orchestra. There is so much in it containing so many contrasting ideas and for anyone not familiar some explanitary notes are essential. The clarity of the sounds is vital and this is achieved here giving the tonality that pervades Mahler's works. Included as a bonus are eight songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. They are well executed by singer and orchestra but for children's tales they tend to be a bit grim: an acquired taste.
4.0 out of 5 stars ALMOST PERFECT,
I am not a Rattle fan, but after hearing this, must rethink my attitude to him. Superbly interpreted, performed and recorded (although the level is a bit on the low side). However, Rattle does not quite "get there" for me with the last movement - tempi and seemingly trying to extract every minute detail instead of allowing the immense emotions of this movement to flow more naturally. Nonetheless, I have no regrets whatsoever in buying this. A firm recommendation.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mahler 3rd Symphony,
This is one of Mahlers most complicated, powerful and interesting works. Very long, but the final, beautiful last movement is well worth the wait, and is stunning in its writing and execution,
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly recommend version 0f Mahler's3rd.,
The is an old but incomparable recording of this symphony. Simon Rattle and the Birmingham S..> get to the heart of this great symphony.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simon Rattle is superb,
The performance of Mahler's Third on this album is excellent. The final movement interpretation by Simon Rattle is superb and very moving.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent recording,
Rattle at his best. The songs included on the disc are also excellent.
If you are a Mahler fan this is the recording for you
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