Music and Vision homepage 'Elgar and Chivalry' by Robert Anderson - available now from Elgar.org

 

<<  -- 2 --  David Wilkins    MONUMENTAL ACHIEVEMENTS

-------------------------------

There are many really fine conductors of Mahler -- some have had the luck and the clout to record entire cycles of the symphonies and what splendid treasures reside in the Kubelik, Abbado, Solti, Haitink and Tennstedt recordings. Many favour the Simon Rattle performances. There are undoubtedly great individual recordings from Barbirolli, Horenstein, Karajan, Klemperer, Reiner, Sinopoli, Szell and, of course, Bruno Walter. I have a particular fondness for Gary Bertini and Michael Gielen; Eugene Ormandy, too, is under-appreciated as a Mahlerian. I don't, personally, take much satisfaction from Maazel or Mehta although I'm happy to acknowledge the taste and sensitivity of those who do. The trouble is -- once you start on such things, almost every major conductor can enter contention here or there for reasons of this and that. Bernstein, for a mix of circumstances that certainly include corporate pride as much, initially, as interpretive rethinking had at least two bites of the cherry (the Unitel video performances with the Vienna Philharmonic must be deemed to constitute a third) and he remains, to my mind, the inescapable challenge against which others need to be assessed.

CD covers from the DG and Sony Bernstein/Mahler sets

Sony (CBS as then was) and Deutsche Grammophon both looked after Bernstein's recording career with the appropriate degree of artistic and commercial consideration that requires us to see them, without irony, as 'Two households, both alike in dignity.' Sony, of course, took the early risk of recording all of the Mahler symphonies in the early to mid- sixties when Bernstein, guru to a soul-searching youthful audience, championed the Mahler revival. We know that he was less of a miracle-worker over a Lazarus-like corpse than he might, later, have allowed people to believe. There were plenty of other performances (and, indeed, recordings) available. He was, though -- and this, I believe, shouldn't be underestimated -- unique in persuading the concert-going and record-buying public that here was music that mattered. Really mattered! Only the most petrified of cynics can ignore the many testimonies that those 1960s box-sets of Bernstein conducts Mahler really changed lives. Later sociologists might (or, not!) be better equipped to tell us quite what those changes were on the volatile emotions of that radical generation and whether they were for better or worse but, for music-lovers, the impact speaks, fortissimo, for itself and must be respected.

Continue >>

Copyright © 25 August 2001 David Wilkins, Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK

 

-------

CD INFORMATION - SONY SX12K 89499

PURCHASE THE SONY SET FROM CROTCHET

PURCHASE THE SONY SET FROM AMAZON

CD INFORMATION - DG 459 080-2

PURCHASE THE DG SET FROM AMAZON

 

 << Music & Vision home      Recent reviews       Poulenc >>

Download a free realplayer 

For help listening to the sound extracts here,
please refer to our questions & answers page.