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This review is from: Klaus Tennstedt: The Complete Mahler Recordings (Audio CD)
I "met" Mahler 52 years ago. I was 18 when I discovered an LP (mono) with the 1st Mahler's symphony by Bruno Walter in a second hand shop that exists no more. My love for music was a blessing I realized when I was 10 years old and found myself lying by my father's big radio with my ear pressed against the loudspeaker enthralled by something I later discovered to be Brahms 4th.
The listening of Titan was like an emotional bomb bursting in my mind! Later I managed to get hold of a recording of the 4th, also second hand. I still have both LPs among several thousands of LPs and CDs!
Practically no one I knew had heard about Mahler, those times. I managed to obtain recordings of all the other symphonies and song cycles, step by step, with the help of friends that went abroad. Most of the readings were by Leonard Bernstein which I believe was one of the first conductors to record Mahler works and I got used to his "sound".
Time went by, I moved on, and got a little "bored" with Mahler. The emotional surprise had come and gone and I knew all the smallest detail of his scores. Along the years I eventually bought, here and there, other recordings by other conductors of Mahler's symphonies but none added much to Bernstein's (except for
a superb rendition of the 2nd by Solti, in Decca).
A few weeks ago I finished reading a book named "Why Mahler" by Norman Lebrecht in which he mentions favourably the recordings of Tennstedt. Actually I did'nt know Tennstedt ever recorded Mahler. A few days later I found out that Amazon had in stock this box set and ordered one. Speak of coincidences.
Well, Tennstedt beats Bernstein and most of the others hands down! The orchestral balance is nearly perfect, he keeps a somewhat slow tempo, almost Brahmsian, let us hear all the instruments all the time and all the notes at the "right" time and with the right emphasis. It's like lifting a veil out of the music so we can "see" it in all its glory and all its colours. The sound of the LSO is superb and the recordings are near perfection. What more can one say.
I have just finished hearing the last movement of the 6th. The sheer power of it! Even without "paukenblock" I'm still sweaty and goose bumped!
Thank you Mr Lebrecht for drawing my attention to Tennstedt. Thank you Amazon for letting me have this masterpiece. It's Mahler reborn.