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Mahler: Symphony No. 7 / Diepenbrock: Im grossen Schweigen

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x91d055e8) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91cdebd0) out of 5 stars Mahler 7 with Chailly 7 Mar. 2002
By Kevin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Where most interpretations of Mahler's 7th Symphony are overtly passionate and often over the top, Chailly takes a different approach. He brings his usual care and nuance to the texture and melodic line, but he also uses a much slower tempo. Having heard live performances by various artists and almost every recording of this piece, taking a slow tempo is disastrous for every conductor. Every conductor, save Chailly that is. His tempi are slower, but he does not sacrifice one ioda of excitement. If anything, there is more exciting since he is so skilled at manipulating the tension of harmony and melody.
The playing of the Concertgebouw is first rate.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91cff9cc) out of 5 stars Comparison: Abbado, Chailly, and Bernstein 25 April 2007
By Jonson Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I hardly thought I would love the 7th as much as I had loved Mahler's other symphonies such as 5th or 9th. Recently, however, it has become my very favorite. I am now fascinated by its exotic micro-cosmos, colorful sonic spectrum and exotic instrumentation. I am enchanted by its dreamy qualities, nightmarishness and all. Most of all, it's an immensely entertaining piece of music that never shoves any sort of purposefulness in your face. As of now this is my most favorite of all Mahler symphonies.

The three recordings I've been enjoying recently are Abbado's with Berlin Phil, Chailly's for Decca, and Bernstein's DG recording.

The most distinct quality of Abbado's is the dark, veiled sonority of the Berlin Phil. It conveys the mysteriousness that is so characteristic of this piece. As far as the interpretation goes, Abbado doesn't linger on very much. But he does conjure up all the nuances in the music through exquisite phrasing and subtle rubati. The details have been illuminated with utmost craftsmanship but Abbado never loses sight of the representative mood of each movement. However, I would say the unique orchestral color is the main attraction here more so than the interpretative decisions.

The one word that might summarize Chailly's version is detachment - and that's not necessarily a bad thing for this music. His rendition sounds as if you are looking at a series of surreal events from a distance. You're not the person who is dreaming all these bizarre moments. Instead you're watching someone who is. A part of it may be due to the fairly far-mic'ed recording. But it's also because of Chailly's choices in phrasing and tempi. You won't find any trace of rhetorical gestures here. Chailly's is the embodiment of coolness. He and his Concertgebouw crew play up the details as much as Abbado and Berlin Phil do but they sound more like careful observations than involvements. Although this is not the most engrossing kind of performance, it contains some fascinating interpretative insights plus truly shattering climaxes with the percussions captured in full range. The ending is particularly impressive.

Predictably, Bernstein offers the most personalized vision. Here every note matters, which can never be said in Chailly's case. Bernstein injects his personal emotion (and sometimes opinion) into every bar. Lyrical moments are bittersweet. Nightmares are terrifying. The last movement is full of rhetoric that you would have a hard time finding in other performances. This is the version that most fullly exploited this enigmatic work. The downside is, well, it doesn't sound like an enigma anymore after being presented in such a specific way. Everything is stated and nothing is implied. There's little room for listener's own interpretations of the music. Still, it's a small price to pay for arguably the most gripping account of the 7th.

Then what's the choice? If you had read my comparison reviews on Beethoven's late piano sonatas (Brendel vs. Rosen) or Haydn's London symphonies (Jochum vs. Davis) you should be able to guess my recommendation. I wouldn't want to live without any of the three. But if I am forced to choose one, I would go with Bernstein's. As shown in many of the Mahler recordings he made, he simply loved this music more than others did.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x920dce28) out of 5 stars Mahler 7 3 April 2014
By MR K MILES - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I could only get this fabulous cd set from America; it was worth the wait!
Not only do I now have the complete Chailly Mahler cycle but I also have a fantastic recording and performance of this wonderful symphony.
Great service and delivery.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x920d2834) out of 5 stars Overly cautious Mahler, with a few perverse touches 28 July 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Though acclaimed in England, Chailly's Mahler cycle has attracted little notice in the U.S.--this Seventh Sym. hasn't inspired a single new review at Amazon in four years. For anyone familiar with Chailly's overly cautious ways in Mahler, there will be no surprises here. He does include a few perverse touches, like slowing the tempo in the first movement to near-stasis. The general mood throughout is deliberate, heavy, inclining toward the ponderous. Such an approach does the Seventh no favors; this enigmatic piece needs incisive, alert, vibrant conducting to arouse an audience's interest.

At 25 min. the first movement feels endless (most conductors take 21 min.), but things do pick up. The two Nachtmusik movements are filled with some of Mahler's greatest orchestration, and the Concertgebouw creates an exquisite sense of atmosphere. I was curious to see if he'd sink the finale with a plodding pace, but in fact he gives us a bracing, if heavy-footed allegro to start. Only later does he deliver his last perverse touch by slowing the development to a crawl. As a result the finale wnds up lasting 19 interminable minutes rahter than Bernstein's 14+ on Sony. In all, I'd call tis one of Chailly's weaker installments.
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