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on 19 May 2014
I think that this recording of Mahler's First Symphony played live by the CBSO under Simon Rattle in 1991 has been unfairly treated. People complain that it is not exciting enough and that the first two movements arent spontaneous sounding.I disagree with all these comments. I really like this performance very much and feel that Rattle brings something new to this Titanic symphony. In the first movement Rattle evokes the awakening of Nature with beauty that makes one think of what Karajan's performance of this Symphony may have been like.The Wayfarer theme is absolutely beautifully characterised (compare this to Bertini's and Zinman's bland and uninteresting way with this part);and its expertly done how Rattle gradually brings more and more light to the movement until the exciting burst of sunshine towards the end of the movement. The Second movement is excellent in that Rattle makes it sound different and fresh (compared with Bertini's and Zinman's pathetic tedious performances of the Second Movement. Even in Kubelik's otherwise great 1979 live account of this Symphony,he fails to make the Second Movement sound at all exciting or new). In the Third Movement Rattle creates an atmosphere of darkness and sadness with a reminiscence of beauty in the middle of the music. Rattle is on top form again with the onslaught of the Fourth movement where a terrible battle between suicidal despair and hope ends eventually in reclaimed hope and victory with songs of sadness and yearning for the past along the way. The ending is fabulously joyful. I really love Mahler's Titan Symphony number 1 and love this recording by Simon Rattle.
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on 30 May 2016
This is a sensational live recording of Gustav Mahler's Blumine and D major Symphony. The CBSO delivers dynamic yet highly polished accounts with all stops pulled out; Simon Rattle here readily shows his affinity with this composer. The digital sound reproduction is first rate but does need a higher volume-setting than usual. However, neighbours beware!
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on 3 July 2014
Simon Rattle has always had an affinity with Mahler's music and anyone who enjoys his approach will be happy with this disc. It doesn't reach the heights of his CBSO recording of the mighty Second Symphony, however, and wouldn't be my library choice. For that I'd turn to Kubelik or Bernstein, both of whom do a better job of bringing out both the darkness and the charm of the work. Bernstein in particular has great fun with the klezmer sections. The Rattle recording has much to recommend it nevertheless, not least the inclusion of the Blumine movement which Mahler deleted from the final version of the symphony and which most conductors omit.

The recording quality is good but you'll need to turn the volume right up to hear the quieter passages. The first time I played the disc Blumine was almost inaudible. Be warned, though - this performance contains 'highs' and with the volume cranked up your speakers could be in grave danger during the louder bits!
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VINE VOICEon 22 August 2005
This is a live performance that gets better as it goes on. While conjuring a beautifully balanced introduction with wonderfully balanced horns within the string harmonics, the main theme of the first movement is a little four-square. It seems that Rattle is determined to make it a real first-subject tune, worthy of its symphonic context, rather than indulge its fahrenden Gesellen ancestry with the more relaxed, gemutlich feel that, say, a Barbirolli gives it. This desire to emphasise the classical strengths of the movement leads Rattle into more exaggerated speeding up and slowing down than we expect from him in Mahler, usually in an attempt to point up the architectural structure of the music. It ends up feeling a bit too pulled about and a little flat.
The second landler movement sounds as if it is going to go on in the same vein. The main section here is bit plain-Jane, too - neither the energy of a Horenstein or a Bernstein nor the wonderfully Breughelian pesante stomp of Barbirolli (either with the Halle or, especially, with the NYPO). But then we get lift off. The trio suddenly starts to sparkle with wonderfully lifted waltz rhythms. It's as if the gears have all suddenly engaged. Rattle's slow movement is alive to all its startling changes of mood - the heavy tramp of the Huntsman's funeral (it's said to be based on a Caillot painting of the woodland animals burying their persecutor, set to a dirge-like minor-key Frere Jacques or Bruder Martin): then Austrian town-band oom-pah: then wild, excitable klezmer-style dance music: and then the sad but beautiful sounds of the heartbroken lover from the second fahrenden Gesellen song in this symphony, 'Die zwei blauen Augen'. All these elements work together by setting off flashes and reflections of each other from their close juxtaposition.
The funeral march treads to its tam-tam coloured end and, with a great shriek from the orchestra, we're off on the finale (Rattle is always very good at getting his producers to obey Mahler's instructions for the pauses between movements). Like many Mahler finales (e.g. 2, 6, 7, 8) this can sound diffuse and unstructured in the wrong hands. Here Rattle's ability to hold things together with real symphonic cohesion does work. The second subject soars on the strings as it should, the return to the very opening of the symphony seems absolutely right in context and the peroration is suitably triumphant. This is as fine a reading of this movement as you'll find.
On this disc, you also get 'Blumine' for your money, the movement that Mahler borrowed for the symphony from his incidental music for Der Trompeter von Sakkingen but later rejected. It is first on the disc, but you can obviously progamme it into context if that's the way you want to hear the symphony. Personally I think Mahler was right, charmingly sentimental though the movement is. It gets a suitably atmospheric reading from Rattle here.
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on 27 November 2016
As has been previously reported if you set your player so that you can hear Blumine you risk damaging your speakers during the Symphony.
I was present at the performance and it was tremendous, this CD does not do it justice.
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on 11 August 2013
i brand new amazon on the cheap as always eager to hear different versions by established conductors. Rattle here recorded Mahler's first symphony in a live version with the Birmingham SO before he moved on to his role as comductor with the Berlin Phil. recorded sound is fine, booklet notes are quite detailed + the artwork is attractive and of the era the work was written in .

however , this version for me just doesn't gel - as Rattle offers a cautious , disjointed reading of this marvellous work. there is a surprising lack of excitement or fervour considering this is a live version. Kubelik offers a more satisfying experience as tempi are better judged, dynamics are less exaggerated when compared Rattle , and Kubelik produces from the Bavarian Radio SO, a deeper sense of wonder than here. Kosler + the Slovak Phil on naxos is a better, less mannered, more powerful version also. as is Abbado on DG.

Rattle's version simply fails to work for me. Kubelik's earlier version on DG is far more satisfying. re-assuringly the Penguin guide to classical music felt the same way at the time commenting that Rattle produced far better reading of Mahler's other symphonies than here. so - a missed opportunity for Rattle here.
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on 23 March 2016
In comparison to Bernstein, Mehta or Tennstedt this Symphony is mediocre.I used to frequently attend the CBSO and could have possibly been present at this recording.
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