Shop now Shop now Shop now Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Pre-order now Shop Men's Shop Women's

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 6 February 2003
Since the mid 1990's, Pierre Boulez has been recording Mahler symphonies with the pick of the world's orchestras. Boulez performances typify a pared-down, purified form of interpretation in which you can hear most clearly what pretty much everyone in the orchestra are doing. Riccardo Chailly's style is somewhat similar, and Claudio Abbado, among others, has also gone this way, to great effect and acclaim. But Boulez is probably the most extreme exponent of this style. If you are used to a more typical turn of the century interpretation, such as Leonard Bernstein produced, you will probably find Boulez rather cold. But the music is there, along with the warmth, and I would recommend persistence. For me, enjoying Boulez has been like learning a new language: at first, nothing works or makes sense, but eventually everything gels, and the effect is amazing. When everything gels for you in a Boulez interpretation, the music really does sound superb, special and somehow very right.
Of course, conductors who were friends of Mahler, such as Willem Mengelberg and Bruno Walter, did not produce Boulez-style performances. So at first sight Boulez must be condemned as not being true to the composer. But to me, that is not the way of good music. If you can get more music, something special from the score, then to me that is how music should be. Boulez does that, and whether Mahler would be happy we can argue about forever. But I suspect Mahler, a great pioneer himself, would at the very least have found it interesting, if not invigorating.
In the 7th symphony Boulez directs the fabulous Cleveland Orchestra, who are more than up to the very high standards required by the piece. This is a great interpretation, which grows on me with each listening: for me there is so much sparkling,original, deeply affecting,memorable music here. And Boulez's penchant for clarity and precision brings out all those wonderful details particularly well. The superb recording methods of DG also helps to produce an especially beautiful, crystal-clear sound.
Tha composer himself described his 7th symphony as his best work, according to the German section of the accompanying insert. On the evidence of this disc I would certainly not disagree, even if it takes a fair few listenings, and a while to adjust to the unusual ideas of Pierre Boulez.
0Comment| 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 January 2011
I am a lover of Boulez's Mahler sequence and consider it to be one of the most interesting stories in recent recording history. Some of the discs in this cycle are amazing. But this is probably his worst. I actually wonder, what was he thinking? Now, before I explain why, let me say that there is much to admire in this disc. It should probably be part of your collection, although not the only one. The playing is beautiful, and the Cleveland has a jewel-like transparent clarity which is a joy to listen to. (Although if you listen to the strings in the oceanic passage in mvt. 1, after around 10 minutes, the high notes suffer from some striking chorusing...but lots of other recordings have this same problem.) The (studio) recording by DG creates a stunning sound (a sound which they appear to have lost with their recent move to cheap productions.) Further, although Boulez may have made mistakes in his reading of this piece, his mistakes are in fact superior to the best efforts of the second division. His thinking on this piece has a value of its own and the best I can say is that this is a intriguing, even compelling, interpretation. Now to the problems: four of the movements are played at stunningly incorrect speeds! The first movement is played at a dragging, measured speed - as is the finale. But the worst is found in the Nachtmusik movements. Nachtmusic I is reread as a dance piece in a precisely rendered performance which has enough delicacy and subtlety to redeem itself. But Nachtmusik 2 is a fox's paw. The piece normally takes around 13 minutes, and here takes 10! It is ludicrously fast, annoyingly fast, irritatingly fast. It's actually funny. I recently listened to this performance a few times again and found myself exasperated. For this reason I set about listening to multiple recordings of this single movement. What I discovered seems to explain why Boulez skimmed over this movement: it is maybe Mahler's worst piece of writing. Never mind the nice tune in the middle, this is some dodgy composition. What was HE thinking?! So Boulez maybe thought the best way to tidy it up is to race through and although the rough edges to blur. This is a strategy I might even be inclined to repeat myself, but I would perforce try to find a more happy medium.

The hair stays down in this version and the higher truths one expects of Boulez aren't quite there. Do you want to know which version might kick your ass and make you feel as if you might sway sidewards? The 1971 recording by Georg Solti is currently causing me to hold my breath as I type!

Finally, if there is a piece Boulez should record again (maybe in a live version...!) it is this - not Ravel's concertos. I heard him conduct this in a live BBC performance a few years ago and was amazed to hear that he had changed his mind about the speeds. It worked just fine.

Added a few weeks later: ...and yet! This performance continues to ring in my mind. I was taking a lunchtime constitutional and heard the 2nd movement in my mind - at the speed that Boulez takes it. There are many other reasons why I continue to reflect on this interpretation that I'll not bore you with. But this is a clear sign that there is something here that must be heard.
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 17 March 2010
Pierre Boulez is an immensely talented conductor and a composer of much famous contemporary music. Thirty years or more ago he presided at a BBC Symphony Orchestra Prom where one a most mercurial and passionate Mahler 7 performances was unleashed on an adoring Proms audience. He inspired the BBCSO to remarkable heights.

Alas. this is not the case here.

The Cleveland Orchestra is wonderful and the recording is very fine. But Boulez seems to have an agenda here: it is as if he is saying, "Mahler's most difficult symphony? Rubbish! It's just badly put together!". His performance consistently refuses to let the music sing and it eschews all of the mysterious quality of the Nachtmusik movements and Scherzo with leaden phrasing, frantic speed in Nachtmusik I and not particularly differentiated sound. The Finale seems almost deliberately ugly - a view that seems to suggest cynicism rather than rejoicing (but this is not Shostakovich). Try instead:

Mahler - Symphony No 7
Mahler - Symphony No 7; Mozart - Symphony No 41
Mahler - Symphony No. 7 (Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Kubelik)
Mahler - Symphony No 7
11 comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Boulez absolutely nails this great piece of music which is often described as "difficult". I think it's perhaps Mahler's best work and you can't go wrong with this beautifully played and recorded version. The only competition in my collection comes from the neglected Gary Bertini in his bargain EMI box set.

The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra play out of their skins and, for once, the multi-miked "4D" Deutsche Grammophon recording technique from the 1990s, doesn't get in the way of this by "spotting" individual instruments much.

Highly recommended as a long-term investment!
11 comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 July 2015
What a relief to hear the first movement of Mahler's 7th played in a way that gives it the breadth and power we're used to hearing elsewhere in some of his other symphonies, and with the introversion and atmosphere, especially in the central "moonlit" section, that helps relate it to the Nachtmusik of the rest of the symphony! If "tradition," which says that this movement should be played at about 20 or 21 minutes, is right, then Boulez is wrong, since he takes 23 1/2 minutes. However, it is this tradition that has given us endless recordings of first movements in Mahler's 7th that are made into shrill-sounding, headlong rushes toward its conclusion (and given Mahler's orchestration, I mean really shrill), in which musical events stream past us like confetti streamers, going by so fast that they have no chance to register, in which trumpet motifs and string figurations can hardly be articulated clearly by the players, and in which those melodic motifs are trivialized by the fast, jaunty tempo. A few comments culled from perceptive reviewers here (at Amazon US) help make this point:

"After a while, however, the ear adapts [to the slower tempo] and starts to register the heaps of felicitous detail. As ever, structural elements are put in their place unerringly, and climactic points pack a considerable punch. The final, march like incarnation of the main theme sounds thoroughly modern, clad in richly diverse and rhythmically complex percussion sounds."

"The result of this 'non-interpretation interpretation' is one of the most lucid and clear presentations, that actually winds up being one of the most cohesive, and surprisingly rich and beautiful. There is unusually monumental scale and brooding sound to the first movement, thanks to a deliberate, slower, expansive tempo."

"But on the other side of the equation, Boulez's 23 minute first movement makes it easier to follow and digest Mahler's complex polyphony and thoroughly modern harmonies. Combined with textures that are more chamber like than usual (Boulez was greatly influenced by Hans Rosbaud in this work), it makes for a seventh Mahler that's not only devoid of excess sentiment, but shifts the work into the upper pantheon of great 20th century works."

Yes indeed: "Cohesive," "rich," and "beautiful," with "monumental scale" and "brooding sound." What more do you want in Mahler? If Mahler's 7th was for so long the "odd man out" in his symphonies, I submit that one reason is that tradition got it wrong, and that Boulez has got it right. The bizarre, eerie "night-music" world of Mahler's 7th made it immediately the most interesting of his symphonies for me, and one reason it has succeeded for me is because Boulez's recording was among the first I heard. Otherwise, I never would have made it past the shrill, trivializing approach of so many conductors who are considered "definitive" in this work. And while Boulez has been criticized for being "bland" or "cool" in Mahler, after hearing the revelation of detail and texture in his first movement here, others that I heard later, such as Gielen, have in fact tended to sound bland and uninteresting by comparison as they rush heedlessly past all the interesting music it offers.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 October 2009
Having heard many versions of this work over the last 30 years I was very disappointed with this interpretation having found the Boulez 9th rather interesting. He seems uninvolved. If you were new to this work I would recommend looking at some of the other versions which are much more "charged" as i dont think this really represents the work in its best light.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 May 2015
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items


Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)