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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars


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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 21 April 2016
I am generally a big fan of Horenstein's Mahler and have reviewed his Third, Fourth, Ninth and "Das Lied von der Erde" glowingly, but just as I found his live Seventh to be undistinguished, I was less than bowled over by this First. It starts well,with a suitably atmospheric "faery lands forlorn" ambiance, the trumpets aptly distanced, the horns ripely mellow and a sense of brooding mystery hanging in the air, but never really goes anywhere, especially compared with more dynamic and positive readings such as those from Solti and the recent superb release from Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

This is a very gentle, pastoral reading of the symphony, more sombre and reflective than I like it to be; the introduction is slow and dreamy and the movement overall is some three minutes slower than competitive versions from Kubelik and Barbirolli. Progress is deliberate and menacing but never very inspiring. The Scherzo is rustic and heavy without conjuring up the humour Barbirolli finds at a similar tempo, the third movement is gloomy and lacking in bite. The attack of the opening of the finale begins to compensate for that but the generally rather distant, ploggy, soft-edged sound diminishes its impact and the playing soon defaults into the same leisurely style which characterises the three preceding movements, culminating in a ponderous climax. As with the first movement, its overall timing is some two or three minutes longer than other,preferred recordings - and a full five minutes longer than Boult's breathless and thrilling account.

Ijust don't feel that for all his experience and expertise, Horenstein has found the spirit or measure of this music; it is all too marmoreal and reverential, lacking the bite,snap and irony which pervades the work.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 22 April 2016
I am generally a big fan of Horenstein's Mahler and have reviewed his Third, Fourth, Eighth, Ninth and "Das Lied von der Erde" glowingly, but just as I found his live Seventh to be undistinguished, I was less than bowled over by this First. It starts well,with a suitably atmospheric "faery lands forlorn" ambiance, the trumpets aptly distanced, the horns ripely mellow and a sense of brooding mystery hanging in the air, but never really goes anywhere, especially compared with more dynamic and positive readings such as those from Solti and the recent superb release from Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

This is a very gentle, pastoral reading of the symphony, more sombre and reflective than I like it to be; the introduction is slow and dreamy and the movement overall is some three minutes slower than competitive versions from Kubelik and Barbirolli. Progress is deliberate and menacing but never very inspiring. The Scherzo is rustic and heavy without conjuring up the humour Barbirolli finds at a similar tempo, the third movement is gloomy and lacking in bite. The attack of the opening of the finale begins to compensate for that but the generally rather distant, ploggy, soft-edged sound diminishes its impact and the playing soon defaults into the same leisurely style which characterises the three preceding movements, culminating in a ponderous climax. As with the first movement, its overall timing is some two or three minutes longer than other,preferred recordings - and a full five minutes longer than Boult's breathless and thrilling account.

Ijust don't feel that for all his experience and expertise, Horenstein has found the spirit or measure of this music; it is all too marmoreal and reverential, lacking the bite,snap and irony which pervades the work.
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on 17 April 2014
Probably one of the most underrated of the Austrian composers, but this Symphony may change your mind. When you listen to the second movement you can close your eyes and imagine you are in the mountains of Tirol or Carinthia!
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on 25 February 2014
Superb, just how I remembered it, and at a good affordable price. A must for anybody's collection grab a bargain
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on 3 June 2017
Simply awful. Where are the horns? So backwardly recorded as to be almost inaudible! Get yourselves the best Mahler 1 by buying the 1964 Solti issue then you will see exactly what I mean.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 May 2015
Jascha Horenstein, 1899-1973, recorded Mahler's First Symphony twice, with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in 1953 [heard in much improved mono sound in the Preiser reissue of 2005] and again in 1969, at the Barking Assembly Hall, with the London Symphony Orchestra. The work is one of the composer’s most approachable.

The strengths of Horenstein’s performance are his overall conception of the symphony, and his attention to balance and dynamics. Of course, it helps that he is supported by orchestral musicians playing at the top of their form – particularly pointed in the third movement and the stormy final movement. The orchestra’s obvious rapport with their conductor is palpable. Individual details, however ravishing, are never allowed to inhibit the creation of a completely convincing whole. The sound is very good although not up to the standard of a later, apparently illegal, transfer.

Horenstein thoughtful approach and sensitivity to the music is evident in the distant fanfares (clarinets followed by offstage trumpets), the woodwinds’ cuckooing and the Wayfarer song of the opening movement. The overall conception is intensely lyrical, clearly evident in the Ländler-like exultant Scherzo, without this lessening the impact of the third movement’s funeral march that is imbued with a sense of irony. Here and elsewhere the percussion playing is first-rate. The song from the Wayfarer cycle, that Deryck Cooke in a 1969 text links to the death of the composer’s favourite younger brother, achieves an emotional depth that I have not heard bettered.

The devastating opening of the final movement which the composer wanted to sound ‘like a bolt of lighting ripping from a black cloud’ is linked to the following musical ideas through a triumphant arc in which the brass and percussion are to the fore. The conclusion makes the heart race but Horenstein remains completely in control and sensitive to both clarity and shaping, and avoids any hint of becoming bombastic or too rushed.

This 1988 reissue contains Deryck Cooke’s original text on the work together with a brief biography and photograph of the conductor.

Whilst this performance is not quite as impressive as the same conductor’s Mahler 3 it is very difficult to choose between it and Kubelik’s recording, but why should I? It is an immensely powerful and intelligent performance and one of the most enjoyable.
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on 11 August 2011
Mahler's Symphony No. 1 is a work that is full of youthful zest and spirit. As the very first of his nine (or ten) stunning symphonies, it already shows an unprecedented skill of symphonic writing, beginning the Mahler tradition of using huge orchestras in an attempt to incorporate the whole world into a symphony. Interpreters who try to tackle this work should have a feel for the great underlying structure in this symphony. But, equally important, they must pick up on the exuberant love for life and nature that is all throughout this symphony.

How did Valery Gergiev fare in his reading? Well, first off, I'll have to say that he is very successful in recognizing the great symphonic structure in this work. His reading doesn't lack bigness in tone, and there is always a sense of the strong structural backbone present in the symphony. I'm particularly pleased at how well the LSO fares in producing a big tone that can handle the big climaxes in this symphony with a surprising dexterity, something which isn't always present to this extent in other LSO Live albums. The LSO's percussion section is better than I've ever heard it before and the basses dig deep into their passages with a wonderful snarly tone.

But what I find somewhat lacking in this reading is a sense of blissful contentment and love of nature I feel Mahler has sprinkled throughout this work, particularly in the 1st movement. While the LSO woodwinds play the bird calls that start out this symphony with a clear, precise tone, I'm not swept off my feet in the way that I would like to be. And, in general, Gergiev has a tendency to be so caught up with bigness of sound that he misses the charm. This isn't true everywhere: the 3rd movement is full yearning sentiment and a love that makes it a decided success for Gergiev. But elsewhere, I can't quite say the same. The 2nd movement is hardly very folksy and fun, as grand as Gergiev makes it. I'm a bit more sympathetic with Gergiev's look at the finale, as the orchestral thunder he unleashes is so terrifying. Even there, though, I find it a bit impersonal.

Despite this album's setbacks, it is still a good, solid reading. It just doesn't send me into the raptures that one might hope it would.
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on 14 June 2013
Every time, when I listen this disc, I see the love story in my mind. Fight, death and victory. The last movement tells it to us. I love this disc - this is absolutely the best performance of this work. London Symphony Orchestra plays gloriously. I haven't heard this disc in SACD format, but I believe, that then this review is useless - I need to give six stars to this disc. Highly recommend, absolutely. BUY THIS DISC, RIGHT NOW!

Permormance: *****
Recording: *****

1. Langsam. Schleppend - Im Anfang gemächlich (14"40)
2. Kräftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell - Trio: Recht gemächlich - Tempo primo (8"14)
3. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu scleppen (10"32)
4. Sturmisch bewegt (19"15)

Total time: 52"42

Recorded live January 2008 at the Barbican, London

Hybrid SACD - Includes multi-channel 5.0 and stereo mixes
Published by Universal Edition AG.
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2004
This is one of Horenstein's best Mahler recordings. The interpretation, orchestral playing, and recording quality (stereo) form a musical unity that is memorable and musically convincing as well. But due to Horenstein's subjective choices, the interpretation is not, in my view, as consistent as Kubelik's (DG or Audite), Walter's (SONY) or Barbirolli's (Dutton), which I consider to be the first choices. For example, the broad tempo choice at the very end is hardly what Mahler indicates in the score.
Nonetheless, this disc is a must for every serious collector.
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on 28 February 2017
Horenstein's 1970 recording of the massive Mahler 3 to my mind is the benchmark by which all others are judged. Of particular note is his superb control of the slow movements, where almost alone among his peers he maintains the music's momentum without grinding to a halt, despite the very slow tempi he adopts: the control and judgement of pulse is apparent throughout. His achievement maintains the musical tension throughout, making the work a coherent whole.

This is why I ordered his 1969 recording of Mahler 1 (which I hadn't heard before), because I wanted to see if his control of the slow movement was as effective as in the Mahler 3. It is, and once again this quality enhances the overall performance. The audio quality is very good for its time, but the 1970 Mahler 3 on the Unicorn label was a step up in overall recording quality, and is far superior to the Mahler 1 recording. However, I will still treasure Horenstein's wonderful control of pulse and tempo in Mahler 1, and the overall performance. The LSO and Horenstein were made for each other in Mahler recordings, but he died in early 1973 before that combination could record more Mahler (a month after conducting Wagner's Parsifal. at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden).
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