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Mahler: Symphonies 1-10; Totenfeier; Das Lied Von Der Erde (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) [DVD]

3.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: Classical, Colour, Widescreen, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 11
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: RCO Live
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Dec. 2012
  • Run Time: 915 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 175,021 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

A host of accomplished conductors including Daniel Harding, Daniele Gatti, Bernard Haitink and Eliahu Inbal lead the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in these performances of Mahler's Symphonies Nos. 1-10. Recorded in Amsterdam over two seasons in 2010/11, the collection also includes 'Das Lied von der Erde'.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As DVD box-sets of Mahler go, this is probably the most comprehensive yet. It's in competition with Bernstein's DG set, but is in much better sound. And although Bernstein has the Vienna Philharmonic, this has the Concertgebouw -- which some consider the world's greatest orchestra -- in one of the world's most fabulous acoustics, its own hall. I'd give the set five stars, were it not for two serious handicaps.
The first is Lorin Maazel's performance of the Sixth Symphony, which he seems to be phoning in from planet nod. Granted his Scherzo (he uses the Scherzo-Andante order of the two middle movements) actually does come across as a scherzo, thus balancing the two opening fast movements; and he does wake up towards the end of the third movement; but over all this is woefully slow and somnolent, taking an astonishing 95 minutes (you might compare it with one of Maazel's predecessors at the NYPO, Mitropoulos, who took all of 22 minutes less!).
The second problem is the presentation. The eleven discs are in slimline boxes encased in a rather flimsy cardboard box, without any documentation, not a single booklet. We're left to guess that these performances are taken from the two-year Mahler Festival celebrating the centenary of his death, and 150 years from his birth. Apart from the performance dates on the front of each box, there's a track list inside each cover, with credits but no timings, which seems perverse. The films themselves are very well and sensitively directed, though without final credits. But the really surprising omission is the complete lack of subtitles for the vocal movements, which -- unless you know the symphonies well or have the texts already -- is a severe drawback, particularly in the Eighth and Das Lied von der Erde.
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Format: Blu-ray
During Mahler's lifetime few orchestras had as great a rapport with the composer as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Rejected by other cities and musicians, Mahler had a working relationship with the Dutch orchestra and its chief conductor Willem Mengelberg that was crucial. The tradition continued after Mahler's death and into the second half of the 20th century with Eduard van Beinum and subsequently great Mahlerians such as Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Chailly and, now, chief conductor Mariss Jansons.

Between September 2009 and June 2011, the orchestra dedicated itself to a complete Mahler cycle, including Das Lied von der Erde and Deryck Cooke's performing version of the unfinished 10th, conducted by Daniel Harding, Jansons, Iván Fischer, Daniele Gatti, Lorin Maazel, Pierre Boulez, Fabio Luisi, Haitink and Eliahu Inbal. The results have now been released on DVD and BluRay and are dazzling testament that the Concertgebouw is one of the finest and most dynamic orchestras working today.

The strings are gutsy but warm, attacking counterpoint and then weaving pained elegies. Woodwind is always in tune, plangent before turning sour as Mahler's ironic temperament kicks in. The horns and brass likewise strike a balance between thrill and thunder. Effects are born out of this well-oiled and terrific-sounding colossus, part and parcel of Mahler's all-encompassing world of sound. Collectively it is enormously powerful.

Harding begins this great journey with a zesty 1st Symphony. He occasionally verges on micromanagement, yet there is always urgency and, when required, a sense of mania. It is that spirit that Gatti carves his performance of the 5th Symphony.
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Format: Blu-ray
Note: I obtained my copy of this set from Amazon France, where it first appeared.
Here from the RCO house label is only the second complete Mahler cycle to appear on video, following upon the very fine Bernstein cycle of the 1970's. Claudio Abbado came close to completing a video cycle, but is still shy a recording of the Eighth. The emphasis of this present collection is not upon a single conductor, but upon the Concertgebouworkest, widely considered one of the two finest Mahler orchestras in the world, alongside New York. Gustav Mahler himself conducted both orchestras and imbued them with his spirit. In Amsterdam, he conducted four of his symphonies, the First in 1903, the Fourth and Second in 1904 and the Fifth in 1906. Thus began the Mahler tradition of this house.
Mahler was befriended by long-time house conductor Willem Mengelberg, who here led the very first Mahler festival in May of 1920 and scheduled performances of the works continuously until the German invasion of 1940. There was only a five-year interruption of Mahler here, unlike the twelve-year interruption in Germany and the nine-year interruption in Austria (Mengelberg famously chided the Viennese for not playing Mahler any more when he guest conducted there during the war). Subsequent house conductors Van Beinum, Haitink, Chailly and Jansons have sustained the orchestra's commitment to Mahler; Haitink and Chailly both recorded esteemed complete Mahler cycles with them, and Chailly hosted a second Mahler festival in 1995.
For the centenary of Mahler's death, the orchestra presented their third cycle, in numerical order over the course of three seasons. Director emeritus Bernard Haitink conducts the Ninth Symphony; the current director Mariss Jansons conducts the Second, Third and Eighth.
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