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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 6 October 2005
I first heard this recording on Radio 3 shortly after its recording. I was recovering from bad flu in a lonely room in London in winter. I was a Mahler "virgin" all these years ago and this performance/recording made the greatest impression. I rushed from my sick bed to HMV Oxford St (it used to be opposite Selfridges!) and bought the vinyl LPs at great expense. I now have multiple recordings of much Mahler but this will always be my 1st love! I have recently invested in Sennheiser HD650 headphones with a Cardas cable and Grado RA-1 headphone amp - guess what the first recording was that went through this "to die for" set up?! They say I don't get out much now! Go and buy it - your life is not complete!
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VINE VOICEon 23 August 2009
Unfortunately Jascha Horenstein did not make all that many Mahler reocrdings. We only have Symphony 1Mahler: Symphony No.1 In D and this 3rd from Unicorn in stereo (Horenstein conducts Mahler Symphony No. 1 & Bruckner Symphony No. 9 on Vox from the 1950's and Mahler: Symphony No. 1; Songs of a Wayfarer with the Bamberg SO are of variable quality), a Fourth Symphony Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G on CFP , a Seventh on BBC Classics that unforunately starts wih a split note on the tenor horn Mahler: Symphony No. 7, an elderly (but very good mono) Vox recording of Symphony 9 Mahler: Symphony No.9/Kindertotenlieder [IMPORT] and an embattled Proms performance of the same symphony, again on BBC Classics Mahler: Symphony No. 9 / Kindertotenlieder easily available. The Unicorn recording of Symphony 6 no longer seems available. [If anyone knows of other recordings please add a comment and I will edit the review.]

This Mahler 3 is so fine that it has claims to be the single recording of choice in any CD collection - at least as for as the interpretation is concerned. I believe it could stand as Horenstein's "Mahler Monument".

That said there are problems with the balance in the first movement that I can only put down to some sort of error on the part of the recording engineers: at one point s single clarinet sounds approximately twice as loud as the entire second violin section, and the movement as a whole tends towards a recessive stirng balance. But the gradual burgeoning of power in this movement and its mad release in the coda shows very fine conducting and makes the balance problems seem less than they might otherwise be. But it needs to be said that if you have a very large concern for magnificent recording quality, you might become irritated by the shifting balances in this movement. Alas, you CAN get wonderful sound in this symphony by buying Chailly/Concertghebouw on Decca Mahler: Symphony No.3 but you will miss out on the extremes of light and darkness and the sheer depth of involvement that Horenstein brings to this score - especially in the last movement.

The other movements go well too and the Wandsworth Boys' Choir in particular make a charming raw and unsophisticated sound (especially the altos) that perfectly fits the folk quality of the poem in the fifth movement (listen to "Liebe nur Gott in alle Zeit" when the altos repeat "Liebe nur Gott!"). The final adagio is wonderfully phrased, building to a superb conclusion.

A very fine recording that you will not regret buying.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 January 2015
This performance from 1970, released by Unicorn Kanchana Records, has been considered one of the defining moments in the history of recordings of the Mahler symphonies. Jascha Horenstein, 1898-73, had a particular affinity for Mahler and Bruckner, and the possibility of his recording all the former's symphonies was seriously considered by RCA but came to nothing. The Third Symphony encapsulates the composer's opinion that composition `should be like a world. It must embrace everything.'

Here he conducts the London Symphony Orchestra with Norma Procter, b. 1928, the ladies of the Ambrosian Singers and Wandsworth School Boys' Choir, conducted by John McCarty and Russell Burgess, respectively. The flügelhorn and trombone soloists are William Lang and Dennis Wick, respectively, whilst mention might also have been made of John Georgiadis' eloquent violin playing.

The recording was made in Fairfield Hall, Croydon, and the original LPs have been very effectively transferred. The sound allows the detail of Horenstein's exploration of this complex and multiply-layered score to be revealed. The conductor obtains superlative paying from an orchestra that includes seventeen woodwinds, including four piccolos; sixteen brass plus a contrabass tuba and off-stage flügelhorn; extra percussion and very large string section, including two harps. One can only marvel at his concentration and the rapport that he obtains with his players and singers.

The first CD includes the long first movement, Part I of the work that here lasts 33'28, and the beginning of Part II, a relaxed Tempo di menuetta, 9'11, with the second CD, lasting 54'28, containing the remaining four movements of Part II. Like Barbirolli and Bernstein, Horenstein has a very clear overview of the entire work that grows organically into an overall panoramic view of a truly dramatic landscape.

Jack Diether contributes an essay that briefly summarises Horenstein's musical career and offers a short musical analysis of the symphony together with comments by Bruno Walter. The German text and an English translation, by Diether, of Nietzsche's `Midnight Song' sung by the alto soloist in the Fourth Movement.

Horenstein fully realises, in the words of Walter, the opening movement's `trumpet calls, beating of drums, drastic vulgarities, fiery marches and majestic trombone solo' leading it towards a shattering final climax and a shattering ending. In other hands, this can seem relentless marching but not here where individual colours and sonorities are blended to perfection. The contrast with the second movement could not be greater.

Comment has been made elsewhere about the necessary silences between the first/second and fourth/fifth movements that are integral elements of the work's overall shaping. Here the Second Movement is performed with great sensitivity and affection, drawing the fullest out of the reduced orchestra. The Third Movement employs the off-stage flugelhorn as requested by the composer and its unique sonorities and contrast with the wraith-like strings is very expressive. Later the soloist is accompanied by horns creating subtle but precise colourations.

In the Fourth Movement the conductor adopts a tempo that enables Procter to sing with great expression and estblish a sensation of inner loneliness consistent with both what has gone before and what will follow. The huge orchestra is moulded to provide living, breathing support for the singer whose diction is exemplary. The Fifth Movement, played without violins, is extremely short, just 4'44, but involves the greatest number of performers. The choirs sing with a freshness and sincerity that light up a work that, after 70 minutes, could easily begin to flag. The contrast between the boys' and womens' voices is revealed by the recording and remastering.

Horenstein' vision of the Adagio Final Movement is to exploit its dramatic and exalted emotions to take the movement and the symphony, and the listener, to a higher plane. He does this without distorting its contemplative elements and lets the music breath in a way that no other recording does until the final series of timpani beats. More recent recordings have a more impressive overall sound but none is imbued with this degree of inner spirituality or allows inarticulate sound to attain `the highest degree of articulation'. This performance really shows what this metaphysical statement, quoted by Diether, means.

This is truly one of the great performances on record and makes one regret even more RCA's failure to record Horenstein's Mahler cycle.
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on 7 February 2009
I was fortunate to attend this recording as a guest of Unicorn. I had presumptuously asked them if I could attend when discovering from the RFH programme notes in May 1970 that this was to be laid down for posterity in my home town a few weeks later in July.
For two and a half days I sat spell bound in the middle of the hall with the score open on my lap, barely breathing for fear of intruding upon the surround sound recording. Deryck Cooke was there, and he brought us all the sad news on the third morning; Sir John Barbirolli had died overnight. The LSO had already put every ounce of their enthusiasm and professionalism in for Jascha Horenstein over the previous two days, and this news was reflected in the extra feeling put into the final movement.
I am surprised that Unicorn do not release this set with the Strauss Death & Transfiguration that consumed the final afternoon, but I didn't stay to witness that recording session - I was absolutely replete with the overwhelming sounds of this symphony in the hands of one of the true twentieth century legends of Mahler interpretation!
I treasure Jascha's autograph emblazoned on my hastily purchased Nielsen Fifth that was another Horenstein/Unicorn speciality from that era, but best of all is this glowing performance - which posterity will surely judge a very special reading indeed.
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on 22 November 2014
I just received the Brilliant set of Mahler symphonies, which many buyers say they bought just to get this performance. That was true for me, as I needed to replace the bronzed copy of Unicorn's Souvenir Series CD.

There's a theory that one "imprints" on the first performance of a given work one hears. Not I. I often change allegiance as better performances come along. * The Horenstein Mahler 3rd appears to be the only performance I've stuck with since I first heard it -- over 40 years ago.

Mahler called the 3rd "A Summer's Midday Dream", and I see nothing wrong in drawing a rough parallel with the "Pastoral". Much of it is about the pleasure of experiencing Nature. (Like Beethoven, Mahler much-enjoyed the countryside.) Except for the fourth movement-- which, tellingly, is titled "What Man Tells Me" -- it is not a dark work, and whatever profundity it possesses is not laid on with a trowel.

However paradoxical it might sound, it is the artist's interpretive responsibility to let a piece of music speak for itself. This is especially true of the Mahler 3rd, which speaks for itself if the conductor lets it. I recently listened to Bernstein's DG recording. It's perfectly fine -- except Lenny tries a bit too hard to make the work "profound".

Horenstein is brisker than most other conductors, but his tempos never seem rushed. This is particularly noticeable in the short fourth movement, where he is almost two minutes faster than Bernstein or MTT. MTT is so slow the music nearly disintegrates, whereas Horenstein maintains the music's coherence, making it all the more effective.

This is not a mannered or idiosyncratic performance. Its continued popularity is due to its honesty and directness.

The sound is pretty good -- about what you would expect from a 1970 recording. It's a bit distant, perhaps to accommodate Mahler's large orchestra. Contrary to another reviewer's claim, it is not harsh or edgy. (My system has Apogee speakers and Curl electronics.)

It's unfortunate you have to purchase a not-cheap set of all the Mahler symphonies to get this one. (I haven't yet listened to the others.) But I don't think you'll be disappointed.

* In fact, I've been known to listen to a completely unfamiliar work and decide the performance isn't very good.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 25 April 2016
I began listening to this venerable recording - the favourite of many seasoned listeners - prepared to find fault with its various flaws: the imbalances between instrumental blocks, the occasional flub which might have been corrected as it is a studio recording, the rather acidic quality of Norma Procter's alto, and the admittedly slightly antiquated sound from 1970. In fact little of that matters when measured against the mastery of Horenstein's direction and the commitment of the LSO.

This is in fact an account which encompasses both the great majesty of the march of Nature and also the mercurial, perky flavour of the more playful passages. Horenstein does not overdo the Sturm und Drang but recognises the good humour of so much of the music. There is a truly celebratory sense to the music-making here, underscoring the apparently antithetical depiction, aptly described by Bruno Walter in the notes, as a marriage between "primordial inflexibility and lust-driven wildness". The cacophonous climaxes to the opening and closing movements are gloriously uplifting and released. The pastoral second part is alternately gentle and sparkling, with some lovely playing on the strings and flutes; the playing of the solo trombone and flügelhorn might not be technically flawless but it is musically so apt and atmospheric. The orchestral playing in the Scherzo is airy and whimsical and I like the slightly rough, raw sound of the Wandsworth Boys' Choir - who incidentally sing in excellent German.

At first, I thought the finale could have begun more tenderly and that Horenstein was undercooking it, but then I realised that he was keeping his powder dry and pacing more cunningly than I had appreciated and that he was gradually generating enormous cumulative tension, saving the punch to the listener's solar plexus in those last bars.

This kicks into touch technically perfect but emotionally anodyne recordings like that by Chailly.

I began listening to this venerable recording - the favourite of many seasoned listeners - prepared to find fault with its various flaws: the imbalances between instrumental blocks, the occasional flub which might have been corrected as it is a studio recording, the rather acidic quality of Norma Procter's alto, and the admittedly slightly antiquated sound from 1970. In fact little of that matters when measured against the mastery of Horenstein's direction and the commitment of the LSO.

This is fact an account which encompasses both the great majesty of the march of Nature and also the mercurial, perky flavour of the more playful passages. Horenstein does not overdo the Sturm und Drang but recognises the good humour of so much of the music. There is a truly celebratory sense to the music-making here, underscoring the apparently antithetical depiction, aptly described by Bruno Walter in the notes, as a marriage between "primordial inflexibility and lust-driven wildness". The cacophonous climaxes to the opening and closing movements are gloriously uplifting and released. The pastoral second part is alternately gentle and sparkling, with some lovely playing om the strings and flutes; the playing of the solo trombone and flügelhorn might not be technically flawless but it is musically so apt and atmospheric. The orchestral playing in the Scherzo is airy and whimsical and I like the slightly rough, raw sound of the Wandsworth Boys' Choir - who incidentally sing in excellent German.

At first, I thought the finale could have begun more tenderly and that Horenstein was undercooking it, but then I realised that he was keeping his powder dry and pacing more cunningly than I had appreciated and that he was gradually generating enormous cumulative tension, saving the punch to the listener's solar plexus in those last bars.

This kicks into touch technically perfect but emotionally anodyne recordings like that by Chailly.
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on 25 July 2009
While I don't gainsay anything said by other reviewers about the excellence of the performance, intending purchasers should note that the recording badly undersells the strings. But I still love this recording - one of the first LP box-sets I ever bought back c1972. The CDs seem to have the same balance as the LPs, for good or ill.

Lovers of Horenstein's Mahler may like to try the CFP Symphony No. 4 with Margaret Price, where the CD transfer does seem to have improved on the subfusc LP sound.
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on 11 May 2016
This is a well known recording that should be in everyone's Mahler collection. No problem with the performance, although despite the hype there are others that are better. The problem is that the new reissue is on cdr's packaged in a cheap case with flimsily printed inserts. This is becoming all too common nowadays and whilst it obviously saves the record company money from the customer's point of view it is a poor quality product - caveat employ...
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on 16 May 2015
I heard so much about how wonderful Horenstein's Mahler's 3rd with the LSO was over the years. I have to agree that it really is something quite special. The first movement is full of violence and also pastoral charm and it doesnt drag in this recording.The second movement depicting charm of flowers and birds is good and sunny.The third movement is ace as it doesnt drag and it fits together very well. The Fourth movement is sad and melancholic and full of the pain of human life and the fifth movement is also poignant in offering hope.The sixth movement is tear-laden and full of pain and sadness and despair but also some hope and this becomes beautiful. By the end there is a feeling of having achieved a kind of link between despair of death and a belief in a Creator in its powerful ending. I would say that this recording along with Mitropoulos' recording and Kubelik's studio recording are the best for Mahler's 3rd. Also Abbado's 1982 recording with VPO and Kent Nagano's recording are fantastic.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 January 2012
not least an alfresco feel, a happy sense of space for the music to resound, nothing too upfront or bullish. Timps well caught, brass strong without blaring away and sensitive contributions from the woodwinds and strings. Horenstein makes everything happen without undue highlighting of the music or of himself. Sensibly, the bulk of the symphony (movs 3-6) is on Disc 2. Others may have more glamour or theatricality but these are short-term rewards which pall with repeated listening.
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