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4.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 27 April 2016
Previous reviewers have sufficiently and even laboriously toiled over the minutiae of the differences between Bernstein's three recordings of this symphony, so I shall simply summarise by saying that I find the last, Concertgebouw recording to have less personality and be more laboured than this mighty live performance, that the remastered sound on this DG Originals issue certainly beats the thinner, more distant sound in Amsterdam and that despite the virtues of the earliest recording on Sony, especially now that the already excellent analogue sound has been remastered, the New York Philharmonic is not as impressive an orchestra as the Berlin Phil in 1979, despite a few minor and negligible imprecisions - some of which have been absurdly exaggerated by previous commentators. All three are great accounts but if you must choose, this is the one to have, for its weight and intensity.

There is of course the issue of the missing three trombones at the climax half way through the finale, when a member of the audience most unfortunately had a heart attack, but that omission is hardly as fatal to the recording as the poor man's indisposition was to him. There is also Lenny's groaning and grunting to contend with, but I do not find it so distracting; the audible manifestations of his emphysema perhaps remind us of that shadow of mortality hanging over the whole symphony and Mahler's last years.

On the credit side, in addition to the sonic advantages and the supremacy of execution already mentioned, is Bernstein's supreme control of phrasing and rubato; he pulls back and lets go with an elastic flexibility of which the composer himself would, by all accounts, have surely approved. The music breathes, sobs and sighs; no Mahler Lite here. I want this symphony to be gloriously played on a large scale and to sound lush and indulgent - and here it is. The concluding minutes of the finale are as rapt, sweet and still as you could wish - marvellous.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 February 2010
At last count I had over 20 Mahler 9 recordings-my favourites include Maazel/VPO (hopelessly underrated!), both Karajan's and Sinopoli's Dresden performance on Profil. I can find someting to move me in just about all performances-exceptions are both Abbado's , Solti's and at the risk of abuse-Barbirolli's!
I somehow missed this recording on its earlier release,(shame on me!) perhaps put off by the earlier released though later recorded 1985 Bernstein Concertgebouw reading, which is a poor recording and too eccentric a reading for words-and the fact tha the current set was originally released as 2 Full Price CDs.
I've caught up with it on this bargain single CD re-mastered release-I am stunned!
I cannot find enough superlatives. The remastered recording is state of the art- stunning is again the word of choice. The performance is magnificent, and has forced me to re-evaluate my view of the 9th.The combination of Bernstein and Karajan's BPO is electric and on this evidence, Bernstein was THE interpreter of Mahler 9 after all!
There are imperfections and extraneous noises -Bernstein grunts and sighs audibly as usual-but they are a small distraction and do not detract from the overall excellence.
This reading chills, moves, inspires, excites and electrifies in equal measure and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is a total bargain, and I advise ALL who love this work or think they might to buy it, either as a welcome addition or as first choice. This is music-making,conducting and playng,lost to us now, and it is wonderful to have it in such resplendent sound. An unreserved recommendation. Stewart crowe
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on 6 March 2010
A recording of Lenny's one and only encounter with Karajan's Berlin Philharmonic would deserve consideration by any inquisitive music-lover. When the music being played is Mahler's Symphony No.9 in a live concert it's damned near unmissable!

Of his three recordings of this seminal work, none can be considered perfect. His first account (with the NYPO on CBS) probably receives the best performance but the 1969 sound is just starting to age a little. His final recording (with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 1985) is a very extreme and personal view which I will defend to the death but I acknowledge it's eccentricity and DG did make a bit of hash of the sound. Sitting somewhere in the middle then is this one-off from 1979's Berlin Festival. The late-analogue sound is superb in its natural balance, dynamic range and level of detail. The performance also has more fire than the New York account but pulls back from the extremes of Bernstein's final view in Amsterdam.

It's an intense experience from start to finish and Bernstein is at his brilliant, wilful best; as likely to jab the accelerator as he is to stand on the brakes. The result is one of the best 'do or die' performances you are likely to hear on record, with an intensity of musical expression that comes all too rarely. He pushes the Berliners to the brink time and time again (try the end of the Rondo-Burleske!); he never lets them get comfortable in this most uncomfortable of symphonies. Adding to the intensity is Lenny's vocal contribution. You can hear him humming along in parts of the first movement, there are plenty of emphysema-stained grunts and at the great climax of the concluding Adagio it sounds like he falls off the podium! We then come to what has become the most talked-about moment in the entire recording: just what does happen to those trombones? Where do they go?! It's never been explained and we'll probably never know. It just adds to the mystique of a remarkable and legendary encounter.

This can't really be considered a first choice recording; try Rattle [ Mahler: Symphony No. 9 ], Abbado [ Mahler: Symphony No.9 ] or Haitink [ Mahler: Symphony No.9/Das Lied von der Erde ] for that. However, I would urge you to make room for it on your shelf and you will be considerably richer for its acquaintance.
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on 16 September 2015
If you're looking for the "definitive" Mahler 9th (assuming such recordings actually exist), then this probably isn't it. If you're looking for something where you can almost imagine sitting next to Lenny as he coaxes, cajoles and wheezes through an historic performance, then buy this. There's a real sense of occasion here and it's a must-have on that account alone. Forget the noises off; forget the missed trombones in the fourth movement; just listen and let yourself be transported away.
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on 6 November 2015
Couple this with the box set of the NYPO discs(where the 9th is the only weak link)and you have Lenny,a superlative Mahlerian,in all his glory,This repays the purchaser far more than the asking price.Don't forget Haitink,Tennstedt,Barbirolli,Karajan...all have views on this exceptional work.It's life and death,neatly packaged in one overwhelming CD(or two)and a must for the Mahler devotee.To quote Educating Rita,"wouldn't you just DIE without Mahler,dahhhhhling?" Yes.Yes,I would.
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on 6 March 2010
A recording of Lenny's one and only encounter with Karajan's Berlin Philharmonic would deserve consideration by any inquisitive music-lover. When the music being played is Mahler's Symphony No.9 in a live concert it's damned near unmissable!

Of his three recordings of this seminal work, none can be considered perfect. His first account (with the NYPO on CBS) probably receives the best performance but the 1969 sound is just starting to age a little. His final recording (with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 1985) is a very extreme and personal view which I will defend to the death but I acknowledge it's eccentricity and DG did make a bit of a hash of the sound. Sitting somewhere in the middle then is this one-off from 1979's Berlin Festival. The late-analogue sound is superb in its natural balance, dynamic range and level of detail. The performance also has more fire than the New York account but pulls back from the extremes of Bernstein's final view in Amsterdam.

It's an intense experience from start to finish and Bernstein is at his brilliant, wilful best; as likely to jab the accelerator as he is to stand on the brakes. The result is one of the best 'do or die' performances you are likely to hear on record, with an intensity of musical expression that comes all too rarely. He pushes the Berliners to the brink time and time again (try the end of the Rondo-Burleske!); he never lets them get comfortable in this most uncomfortable of symphonies. Adding to the intensity is Lenny's vocal contribution. You can hear him humming along in parts of the first movement, there are plenty of emphysema-stained grunts and at the great climax of the concluding Adagio it sounds like he falls off the podium! We then come to what has become the most talked-about moment in the entire recording: just what does happen to those trombones? Where do they go?! It's never been explained and we'll probably never know. It just adds to the mystique of a remarkable and legendary encounter.

This can't really be considered a first choice recording; try Rattle [ Mahler: Symphony No. 9 ], Abbado [ Mahler: Symphony No.9 ] or Haitink [ Mahler: Symphony No.9/Das Lied von der Erde ] for that. However, I would urge you to make room for it on your shelf and you will be considerably richer for its acquaintance.
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on 17 November 2015
Bernstein's over the top performance is entirely suited to this work. Hear how stamps his foot as he conducts the Adagio and grunts as he encourages the orchestra. It is extremely moving and emotionally draining. A wonderful performance to go alongside Karajan's, Walter's and others.
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VINE VOICEon 30 November 2004
Unlike Abbado, whose late Mahler recordings with the Berliners are superior to his earlier takes in Vienna and Chicago, Bernstein's late Berlin recording of Mahler no. 9 is less successful compared with his earlier account with New York Philharmonic (CBS/SONY). The early CBS recording belongs to every serious collection: it is a very good recording, and the interpretation is both balanced and breathtaking.
By contrast, this live performance suffers from Bernstein's late tendency to exaggerate phrasings, tuttis, etc. In addition, there is a fatal mistake committed by the trombone section at the climax of the final movement. Apparently the whole section went for a coffee brake, because they do not play at all when they are supposed to play fff.
To sum up: If you are a completist, or a Bernstein fan, this record is essential. But if you just want Bernstein's best interpretation of Mahler's last completed symphony, I advice you to look for the CBS/SONY recording.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 February 2010
I've been waiting several years for DG to reissue this concert performance of 1979 at an affordable price, so it is very gratifying to find it so cheap and all 82 mins squeezed onto one CD.

An historic occasion: the only time Bernstein conducted the Berlin Philharmonic, and proceeds going to support Amnesty. It was not the first time he breached fortress Philharmonie, however; the Mahler Nine was given with the Vienna Phil in 1971 in an emotionally draining concert now available on DVD Mahler - Symphonies Nos. 9 and 10, Das Lied Von Der Erde [DVD] [2005]. This later concert is slightly different in matters of interpretation, but only slightly.

I think, in contrast to Karajan's celebrated live Ninth Mahler: Symphony No.9, this concert recording is a document of a one-off event that may not withstand too much repetition. At last able to direct the awesome Berliners, Bernstein lives very dangerously and the music-making is often electrifying, very spontaneous, of/for the moment. But maybe the moment passes, just as one sometimes feels with those Celibidache live issues. This only serves to reinforce how startlingly great the Karajan performance is, with its breathtaking artistry, superb sound and grasp of the whole. Their recording also has a greater range of dynamics, with true pianissimi. The Bernstein/BPO partnership, like an unforgettable two-night stand, is not without its high octane errors, misjudgments, extraneous noises - from Lennie especially - but also its inspired off-the-cuff decisions.

I strongly recommend the DVD for the theatricality of Bernstein's conducting, his highly strung emotional commitment and that of the VPO whose strings move as one with Lennie's baton in the great adagio. His vocals are less intrusive on DVD where he is the focus of attention. But the Karajan is no less remarkable an event, when you take into account only two years earlier his studio recording was an award winner and he almost never authorised the release of live recordings.

There may be more emotional force with Bernstein, but there is more spirituality with Karajan. Why choose, have both.
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on 13 December 2014
A very fine performance ,recorded live & non the worse for that.
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