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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inbal or Rattle?, 21 Feb 2010
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony No.10 (Audio CD)
I know that there are other recommendable recordings out there, but comparison of these two makes sense to me for several reasons, practical and aesthetic: one, I own them both; two, they are both excellent; three, they represent contrasting, very diffferent but equally successful interpretative stances.

Rattle's version has attracted far more attention and many more reviews, for obvious reasons, but don't let that, in combination with the fact that his Mahler cycle as a whole might not be up there with the front runners, lead you to dismiss Inbal. For some reason, Inbal and his Frankfurt orchestra really came into their own for this one.

Broadly speaking, Rattle's view of this wonderful symphony, in the equally admirable completion (OK - "performing version") by Deryck Cooke, is typical of his strengths (reflected in his latest Brahms symphony cycle) and weaknesses (an ennervated and static Requiem by the same composer) as a conductor. Occasionally, he relies too heavily on too ponderous an approach which can cause his interpretation to plough into the sand and choke. Here, although he favours much broader tempi and phrasing than Inbal, I think he gets away with it: this is a grand, monumental 10th, far more tragic and reflective than Inbal's nervier, more propulsive and hopeful account. Thus, some find Rattle nerveless and cold, others find a stately beauty in his more reserved approach.

Both versions enjoy superb sound. Rattle's is spliced from two live performances and is slightly rounder and duller - or perhaps less edgy? - than Inbal's brighter studio recording; either way, the ambience provided complements each conductor's artistic choices. Inbal's woodwind is more pungent but there is more sheen on the Berlin strings - which could be the result of both their innate orchestral sound and the engineering. Both orchestras play superbly, although some find an echo of too much smoothness in the BPO's strings - a remnant of the Karajan era, they complain.

Movement by movement, the same generalisations are confirmed in the details: the opening is more resigned and yet more tender, too, under Rattle; more violent and heroic under Inbal, especially in the shattering, climactic, nine-note dissonance and the A-flat minor chorale. Both Scherzos are weightier and more refined under Rattle; more rustic, unbuttoned and even vulgar under Inbal, especially in the Ländler sections. I love the way Inbal's brass screams and howls in the second Scherzo; Rattle is almost too civilised by comparison. In the tiny, central "Purgatorio" movement, Rattle brings darker sonorities and colouring, Inbal is sharper.

The interpretation of the vast final movement could be a clincher for some listeners: the otherwordly beauty of the flute's theme leading into the concluding cantabile section is exquisitely played by Rattle and the BPO; his broader tempo and their singing strings impart a profound melancholy which offers less of a sense of resignation and consolation than Inbal's vibrancy. Both make much of the bitterly ironic quotations from "Das Lied von der Erde". One crucial detail stands out for me: I much prefer the way in which Inbal secures a real swooping, Mahlerian portamento from the Frankfurt strings on that last leaping sixth skywards; Rattle's is almost diffident in its polite timidity.

In the last analysis, I prefer Inbal's heart-wrenching humanity to Rattle's bleaker, more detached stateliness, but make no mistake: both are deeply moving, wholly recommendable recordings.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Aug 2010 23:47:23 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Sep 2010 21:11:58 BDT
JJA Kiefte says:
Chailly's on Decca is the definitive version with Rattle and Inbal close runners-up. (To dispel any doubts, yes I have them both.)

Posted on 31 Aug 2010 23:47:34 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 1 Sep 2010 21:11:40 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Aug 2010 23:52:26 BDT
Last edited by the author on 31 Aug 2010 23:58:45 BDT
Ralph Moore says:
Your repeated statement is so absolute it admits of no contradiction, so I see little point in a discussion. I have always found Chailly's Mahler to be a combination of limp gesture and empty bombast. De gustibus....

PS: I think you mean "definitive".

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Sep 2010 21:14:01 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Sep 2010 22:33:15 BDT
JJA Kiefte says:
Definitely "definitive" (errare humanum est).
From your review and comment I infer that you have deigned Chailly's Mahler 10 not worthy of your attention. A pretty absolute statement then to dismiss his version as 'limp gesture and empty bombast'.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Dec 2010 21:27:29 GMT
Have you heard the Kurt Sanderling/Berlin Symphony Orchestra performance on Berlin Classics? Not currently availiable in USA, but can be gottoen via http://www.amazon.co.uk For me this IS the definitive version, makes all others sound limpid to my ears, including both Rattle's!

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Dec 2010 23:10:10 GMT
Ralph Moore says:
Martin P's review obviously puts off prospective buyers - but then, his views can be highly polemical and idiosyncratic. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but the discrepancy between what he hears and you hear is puzzling. I am certainly tempted to act on your recommendation - thank you.

(What's wrong with "limpid"? In my lexis, that simply means "clear" - or did you mean "limp"?)
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