13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Karajan's recording of Mahler's most warlike symphony is simply glorious,
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony 6, Ruckert Lieder, Kindertotenlieder (DG The Originals) (Audio CD)
Amazon's customer reviews section has always been home to extreme points of view, perplexing to everyone how one man's meat can be another's poison. This late '70s Mahler 6 from the Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert Von Karajan is no exception, with both 5-star and 1-star reviews. The interesting thing is the naysayers seem to be reacting against the recommenders, rather than against the recording itself. Their attacks are also directed at the conductor in quite a personal and maybe envious fashion.
The big joke is the invidious notion that Karajan was not an interpreter of the music somehow (or an uncomprehending one); that this is Karajan's Mahler 6 rather than the composer's. Urgh. You could just as easily thrust that argument at Bernstein, or Barbirolli, or Tennstedt. Is not Haitink's Mahler 6 Haitink's as well as Mahler's? Karajan, Haitink and Bernstein are all conductors with massive wide-ranging discographies and all are prone to lazy generalisations about their supposed stamp (beauty / emotion / dourness). The truth is never so simple.
This recording of Symphony No.6, made in Philharmonie in the late 1970s, is of superb quality, one of the best achieved by DG for Karajan and the BPO in this venue and I would say much superior to the overrated Bernstein recording from Vienna. At the big climaxes, which arrive with cataclysmic force, you can hear everything clear as could be. When it comes to the interpretation it is worth remembering a factor highlighted in Richard Osborne's biography of the conductor: his fear and hatred of war, the lifelong apprehension which made conducting certain war or death-haunted works such an intense and exhausting experience. This symphony is one of them and only an imbecile could fail to notice that it is a recorded performance coloured by intense passion. Even the 1-star folks can be found saying the orchestra play superbly, but they make THAT small detail sound superfluous. Let's say it again, shall we: the Berlin Philharmonic under Karajan play this symphony superbly.
Add to that you'll have Ludwig's classic interpretations of Mahler lieder and both discs are at budget price. What more could you reasonably want, provided you don't suffer from chronic dissatisfaction?
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Initial post: 10 Apr 2017, 17:04:06 BST
I have just read your concise review of what is surely Mahler's greatest Symphony, in the version which I have, and there is no doubt in my mind that it is The Supreme recording. As you say, details are crystal-clear and each time I hear it, I discover new things. I very much applaud your comments on the "naysayers" who do appear (to me) to be indulging in "the exuberance of their own verbosity", and, in many cases on Amazon, spending most of their article on telling us about other performances. That seems to me to be facile, we are reviewing This CD, not someone else's. Your point about Karajan's hatred and fear of war is most pertinent, and as this is the only Mahler Symphony which says, emphatically "No", that surely reinforces your point regarding the obvious intense passion he brings to this mammoth experience. The same passion is present in Karajan's Live Mahler 9, where his rendition of the finale is something which has never been bettered.
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