I own this box set, I really like the performances but am no music expert so I will not make any comments about early Bernstein's interpretations. However there are areas I can advise on, there is a similar later cheaper issue ASIN: B005SJIP1E it has the same excellent remastering of all the symphonies but it has different sleeves copied from original LP's, a nice touch and different extra tracks. The sound quality for mid 60's tracks is fantastic, the orchestra comes over in what is 3 D sound, it has depth as well as a really good stereo sound stage. Hiss is low, the only downside and this is slight, is on my huge speakers rumble is heard in very quiet passages when the volume is set for realistic concert hall volume, ie very loud when it should be. Unless you have a top end system with extended bass, you will probably not even notice this. Highly recommended for either version.
These were the performances that introduced Mahler to a generation that are now aged between 50 and 70. Maurice Abravanel (a fascinating 7th)and Jascha Horenstein (Vox) had earlier pioneered some rather dim recordings in the 1950s released through American imports. And then Barbirolli had set staid BPO souls on fire with a 1964 9th (still available on EMI). But this was the first mainstream record label complete series that hit the record shelves. A goblin gnome on the front of Mahler 6 with a fourth side devoted to reminiscences from the NYPO. (I also bought this set to recover that interview's frisson of loss and life, life and loss from those long dead New York Philharmonic musicians that remembered Walter's premiers).
A black raven - or was it just a blackbird - on the front of Mahler 9 with some historic recordings including Mengelberg on side 4. All purchased for 59s. 6d. This is still my favorite Mahler 9 and there are some fabulous alternatives, including bernstein's own 1979 Berlin account.
The Jewish wedding for Symphony One surely transcended all the crossover music ever recorded to date! This was the Bernstein that introduced us to Mahler the tortured genius, heart on sleeve, detail of expression unknown to current music issues, a death in your life before you had experienced life; such meaning in the notes the phrasing and the painful ecstasies of it all.
The remastering has recreated this; though the black vinyl discs were legendary. Sony Columbia have a great reputation for going back to original masters from the Sixties and bringing them back to life. Try their Simon and Garfunkel complete recordings on three discs. It wipes away a generation of re-recorded 'masters' and takes you back to when music was made as if life mattered and money didn't.
I can confirm that the recording quality on this set is rejuvenated and I have this compilation reissue even though I already had the performances on vinyl (1,4,6 & 9) and un-mastered CDs (3,6,7 & 9). The recording depth is back to the dynamic presence that blew my brains out 40 years ago on scratchy black vinyl. The Resurrection is a revelation. As good as Rattle's standout performance.
Get back the experience of real Mahler....Bernstein's Mahler. If you have bought smooth Abbado and clinical Boulez and analytical Rattle, or solid Tennstedt...there is still something absolutely original and soul-shattering about Bernstein's first Mahler set.
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