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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gustav Mahler - Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 (Bruno Walter)


Composer: Gustav Mahler

  1. Symphony No. 1 in D major: I. Langsam, schleppend. Immer sehr gemächlich
  2. Symphony No. 1 in D major: II. Kräftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell
  3. Symphony No. 1 in D major: III. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen
  4. Symphony No. 1 in D major: IV. Stürmisch bewegt - Energisch
  5. Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection": I. Allegro maestoso
  1. Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection": II. Andante moderato
  2. Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection": III. In ruhig fliessender Bewegung
  3. Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection": IV. "Urlicht". Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht
  4. Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection": V. Im Tempo des Scherzos
  5. Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen: I. Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht
  6. Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen: II. Ging heut' Morgen übers Feld
  7. Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen: III. Ich hab' ein glühend Messer
  8. Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen: IV. Die zwei blauen Augen

Mildred Miller, mezzo-soprano (Lieder)
Columbia Symphony Orchestra  (Symphony No. 1; Lieder)
Emilia Cundari, soprano (Symphony No. 2)
Maureen Forrester, contralto (Symphony No. 2)
Westminster Choir (Symphony No. 2)
New York Philharmonic Orchestra (Symphony No. 2)
Bruno Walter, conductor

Date: 1958 (Symphony No. 2), 1960 (Lieder), 1961 (Symphony No. 1)
Label: Sony Classical



"... Horenstein and Kubelik might be purer, but Walter's special brand of old world nobility brings its rewards. Despite the broader approach, the central "false" climax is paced superbly and never flags. All the listener needs to do is be aware that Walter is taking the wider view, seeing a bigger picture, which then means that when the nostalgic recall of the symphony's opening arrives the more it stays in the mind. The coda towers as much as Horenstein's. You might argue Walter is too steady but you would need to have a heart of stone not to respond to the sense of completion and hard-won confidence. ..."

-- Tony Duggan's survey on recordings of Mahler's Symphony No. 1
Read more on MusicWeb International


"... It must, however, be obvious that, to me, it's his interpretation of this movement that symbolises best his general approach: spiritual over human, lyrical over dramatic, vigour over terror, symphony over quasi-operatic. One valid way of seeing this work but not, I believe, the whole story. This impression is carried forward to the final chorus, "Aufersteh'n" ("Rise again"), which under Walter stresses a hymn-like quality and therefore a certainty that is palpable and touching, yet with no real sense that what we are being given has been hard won and I think that, for this work to succeed completely, that is more inappropriate. It's as if for Bruno Walter the end was there to start with and all we had to do was arrive to be admitted. Was Walter too certain of himself? I think he was. Just as I'm equally sure that Mahler wasn't and the implications of this are deep and profound for this work and will come back again and again as we discuss other versions. Walter himself once said that Mahler spent his life searching for God but never found him. He doesn't seem to have brought that idea into his reading of this work, to these ears at least. The playing of the NYPO is exemplary with a depth of experience that can be heard in every bar. The sound is early stereo from the late 1950s and perfectly acceptable in itself. For those who mind, however, they might find it a little limited in range and detail, though the balance is always spot on. My view of this Walter recording may seem harsher than it is as I do regard it as one of the truly essential recordings. My disagreement with it is more intellectual as I believe there is more to be gleaned from this work and the fact that Walter does not do so is not a reflection of any inadequacies on his part, merely a reflection of the kind of man and artist he was, especially at that time of his life. ..."

-- Tony Duggan's survey on recordings of Mahler's Symphony No. 2
Read more on MusicWeb International


More reviews:


Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was an Austrian late-Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. In his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, but his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of neglect. After 1945, Mahler became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers. Mahler's œuvre is relatively small. Aside from early works, most of his are very large-scale works, designed for large orchestral forces, symphonic choruses and operatic soloists.


Bruno Walter (September 15, 1876 – February 17, 1962) was a German-born conductor, pianist and composer, widely considered to be one of the great conductors of the 20th century. He left Germany in 1933 to escape the Third Reich, settling finally in the United States in 1939. He worked closely with Gustav Mahler, whose music he helped to establish in the repertory, as an assistant and a protégé. Mahler did not live to perform his Das Lied von der Erde or Symphony No. 9, but his widow, Alma Mahler, asked Walter to premiere both in 1911 and 1912. Walter's work is documented on hundreds of recordings made between 1900 (when he was 24) and 1961.


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