Customer Review

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly Great Recording of the XX. Century, 27 Jun. 2003
This review is from: Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde - Ludwig, Wunderlich, Klemperer (Audio CD)
If a recording truly does honour to EMI's "Great Recordings of the Century" collection it is certainly this one. Although not made without problems --Walter Legge's original Philharmonia Orchestra started to fall appart in mid-recording and so a portion of the work was actually played by what came to be known for over a decade as the "New Philharmonia" orchestra, a fact that was noticeable in the original LP album labels but apparently forgotten in subsequent re-issues-- their effect --if any-- are unpercievable, such is the degree of concentration in spite of the interruptions in the recording process represented by the orchestra's disputes with their founder. Who knows, perhaps because of that the recording came out so perfectly done, as if the musicians were thinking to teach Legge a lesson in that this would embody the perfect legacy of one of the best orchestral ensembles ever assembled in London, of whose permanence in time no one was sure at he time (the orchestra survived, as we now know, and always among the top London orchestras, first as the "New Philharmonia" and from the end of the 70's on again with their original name, but not with that golden qualities of the late 50's and early 60's). The Klemperer way with the work is, as is to be expected, severe, objective and very much to the point, his concern for clarity of articulation (derived from coaxing clarity from the players themselves and not the result of engineering trickery) yielding miracles in our understanding of the inner construction of the piece, a "modernistic" Mahler 180° removed from more expressive conductors (more on this later), his habitual orchestral seating arrangement an additional bonus (violins split left and right of the conductor, horns and related family back left, trumpets and trombones back right). The much-lamented Fritz Wunderlich proves an ideal and wise choice, and Ludwig rose magnificently to the ocasion in spite of her reputed dislike of, or indifference with, the results (she is reported to prefer her remake of some years later with Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic). A work like this deserves to be considered from more than a single point of view, though. This Klemperer recording is magnificent, mind you, and in no way will you go wrong if you purchase it, but I'd recommend to any person interested in this odd mixture of a symphony and a song cycle to also try another view, one that exploits its many emotional facets. Walter's readings provide an interesting alternative to Klemperer's severity (either the 1952 mono Decca made in Vienna or the stereo CBS made in New York City with a top-form NY Philharmonic, both with a fabulous singer -Ferrier in Vienna, Haefliger in NY- and a so-so one), but if you want to go the full monty buy the Decca Bernstein, made in Vienna in 1966 with James King and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau essaying the male voice alternative to the alto voice. The depths achieved by Bernstein and Fischer-Dieskau in "Der Abschied" get as close to the bare bones of the true soul of this work as no other recording I know of, legal or pirate. Bernstein can go into excesses alright, but in the end and in its very own way, isn't this about excess? So my final recommendation: buy both, as in their peculiar ways they belong inextricably with each other.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Mar 2013 23:46:27 GMT
I agree I am replacing a worn out recording the very best
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