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MAHLER. Symphony No.9. Vienna Philharmonic, Bruno Walter

Gustav Mahler Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 13.34 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

This bargain disc, the first complete recording of Mahler's Symphony No.9, is a live performance from Vienna's Musikverein in 1938, conducted by Mahler's friend and pupil Bruno Walter. Indeed, Walter directed the very first performance of the symphony shortly after the composer's death. The first movement--one of the great symphonic statements--receives a long-recognised classic performance. There's all the terror of impending personal extinction without a descent into hysteria. Equally, the tender moments as rage subsides are unbearably poignant. The counterweight last movement is initially less successful, somehow taking time to settle. But settle it does, and the sense of a soul turning in on itself at the close is numbing. The orchestra is occasionally stretched in the faster middle movements, such is the bite and pace. But just hang on! Walter himself was unhappy with the performance as a commercial release, apparently worried by occasional messy ensemble and audience coughs. But the commitment and communication are remarkable, banishing some people's view of Walter as a kind of avuncular musical uncle. And the sound quality (supervised by legendary producer Fred Gaisberg) is nothing if not vivid for its day. An extraordinary way of being transported back to darkening days as war approached. --Andrew Green

Product Description

(Bruno Walter Conducts:) Mahler: Symphony No. 9 [Import] [Live] [Audio CD]

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a 'must-have' for all admirers of Mahler! Nov. 29 2001
Format:Audio CD
I hesitate to recommend this as the top choice for anyone looking for their first Mahler 9. If you have not heard the Ninth before, this recording by Mahler's personal friend might not be the one for you. Barbirolli's and Haitink's Ninth offer much better sound and some excellent playing. Karajan's Ninth with the BPO is a good place to start. Rattle's Ninth impresses me.
Those who already have a Mahler 9 and wish to supplement their valuable Mahler collection with historical recordings and alternative interpretations, have no hesitation whatsoever in purchasing this CD! One can get no more historical. This was Bruno Walter's last prewar performance with the VPO before he fled the Drittes Reich. Listen to the music and feel the tension of those last remaining days before the war.
One can argue about the quality of playing, no one can say the sound quality is high (though in view of the date - 1938, the engineers in charge of remastering have done themselves proud). But listen carefully and you'll realize beneath the noise the performance is white-hot in intensity. No other Mahler 9s I have heard, including those mentioned above, approaches that level of emotion.
Listening is believing. Admirers of Maestro Mahler's music deserve to have this CD in their collection.
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for Mahler lovers June 29 2003
Format:Audio CD
Although there are a number of very fine performances of this symphony in good stereo sound, this historic interpretation, given in the shadow of the Nazi takeover of Austria that everyone present knew was just about to occur, has a headlong urgency and intensity that, in my opinion, no subsequent recording has fully matched. Walter phrases with a natural elasticity of rubato, especially in the opening andante commodo movement, that highlights the marked fluctuations of tension within the music and projects its expressive rhetoric into sharper relief. Moreover, the prewar Vienna Philharmonic further enhances these qualities with its distinctive way of leaning into phrases that, in my opinion, imparts to them added profile and force. There are, admittedly, imprecisions of ensemble here and there, but not to the degree that would compromise the power of the performance. My only significant reservation is that the last movement is taken a little bit too quickly to be a true adagio (for what it is worth, I have heard that Walter later complained that the recording team made him play it faster than he wanted to).
Finally, I would recommend getting this particular remastering because its sound is significantly more vivid than that of the earlier EMI edition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Treasure At A Virtual Giveaway Price Oct. 15 2001
By NNNNN
Format:Audio CD
When Bruno Walter was to conduct Mahler's 9th Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic in January of 1938 EMI jumped at the chance to record the concert. With duplicate machinery and a chance to work out the kinks in rehearsal EMI wound up producing one of the great classical recordings of the 20th Century by an artist who was not only Mahler's friend buy who had also given the world premiere of the 9th some 25 years earlier. Walter's tempos are brisker than his later CBS recording making it nearly 10 minutes faster than that later recording. There is, however, no indication of haste and Walter draws firth one of the most gripping performances of this work ever heard. The concert took place at 11 A.M. on a cold January morning. There are some audible audience noices in the first movement as well as some tentative playing by the orchestra but that soon settles down and is forgotten as Walter digs deeper into the score. There are many pirated recordings of this performance [...]. Avoid them. This cd is taken, under license, from EMI's metal masters. EMI previously issued this recording on cd in fairly good sound but Mike Dutton has performed absolute miracles here. It of course cannot match a modern recording but hearing it makes it hard to believe it is from 1938 as it sounds like a good mono recording from the 1950's.[....] Within months of this recording the Nazis would occupy Austria and Walter and all the first chair players of the orchestra heard here would have fled Austria into exile. Both musically and historically an important audio document
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for Mahler lovers June 29 2003
Format:Audio CD
Although there are a number of very fine performances of this symphony in good stereo sound, this historic interpretation, given in the shadow of the Nazi takeover of Austria that everyone present knew was just about to occur, has a headlong urgency and intensity that, in my opinion, no subsequent recording has fully matched. Walter phrases with a natural elasticity of rubato, especially in the opening andante commodo movement, that highlights the marked fluctuations of tension within the music and projects its expressive rhetoric into sharper relief. Moreover, the prewar Vienna Philharmonic highlights these qualities with its distinctive way of leaning into phrases that imparts to them added profile and force. There are, admittedly, imprecisions of ensemble here and there, but not to the degree that would compromise the power of the performance. My only significant reservation is that the last movement is taken a little bit too quickly to be a true adagio (for what it is worth, I have heard that Walter later complained that the recording team made him play it faster than he wanted to).
Finally, I would recommend getting this particular remastering because its sound is significantly more vivid than that of the earlier EMI edition.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a 'must-have' for all admirers of Mahler! Nov. 29 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I hesitate to recommend this as the top choice for anyone looking for their first Mahler 9. If you have not heard the Ninth before, this recording by Mahler's personal friend might not be the one for you. Barbirolli's and Haitink's Ninth offer much better sound and some excellent playing. Karajan's Ninth with the BPO is a good place to start. Rattle's Ninth impresses me.
Those who already have a Mahler 9 and wish to supplement their valuable Mahler collection with historical recordings and alternative interpretations, have no hesitation whatsoever in purchasing this CD! One can get no more historical. This was Bruno Walter's last prewar performance with the VPO before he fled the Drittes Reich. Listen to the music and feel the tension of those last remaining days before the war.
One can argue about the quality of playing, no one can say the sound quality is high (though in view of the date - 1938, the engineers in charge of remastering have done themselves proud). But listen carefully and you'll realize beneath the noise the performance is white-hot in intensity. No other Mahler 9s I have heard, including those mentioned above, approaches that level of emotion.
Listening is believing. Admirers of Maestro Mahler's music deserve to have this CD in their collection.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for Mahler lovers June 29 2003
By R. J. Claster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Although there are a number of very fine performances of this symphony in good stereo sound, this historic interpretation, given in the shadow of the Nazi takeover of Austria that everyone present knew was just about to occur, has a headlong urgency and intensity that, in my opinion, no subsequent recording has fully matched. Walter phrases with a natural elasticity of rubato, especially in the opening andante commodo movement, that highlights the marked fluctuations of tension within the music and projects its expressive rhetoric into sharper relief. Moreover, the prewar Vienna Philharmonic further enhances these qualities with its distinctive way of leaning into phrases that, in my opinion, imparts to them added profile and force. There are, admittedly, imprecisions of ensemble here and there, but not to the degree that would compromise the power of the performance. My only significant reservation is that the last movement is taken a little bit too quickly to be a true adagio (for what it is worth, I have heard that Walter later complained that the recording team made him play it faster than he wanted to).
Finally, I would recommend getting this particular remastering because its sound is significantly more vivid than that of the earlier EMI edition.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Seating For This Performance Feb. 12 2006
By The Aeolian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There is no question about this performance: it is one of the treasures of recorded music, and ought to be in the collection of anyone who is drawn to Mahler's music. Its historical significance and performance qualities have been commented on at length, on this site and in reference works. What is special about this release is the superb Dutton remastering. As he has done so many times with archival recordings, Michael Dutton has smoothed out the harshness of other releases while preserving all the detail the sources can deliver. This release is a notch or two better than the EMI, and at this price it is to be grabbed and enjoyed, even marveled at, considering that it was produced in concert in 1938.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vanished Style March 28 2010
By Slainte - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
"On the 16th January 1938, in the old hall of the Musikverein, Bruno Walter conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in a valedictory performance of Mahler's 9th symphony. The occasion was special in many ways. Walter was the work's dedicatee, and had given its premiere a quarter of a century before; the orchestra was Walter's own, as it had once been Mahler's; notables, including Austrian Chancellor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, were present in the hall, and F.W. Gaisberg, the pioneering record producer, was on hand with his technical assistants to commit the event to disc. Listening to this extraordinary performance today, one becomes an eavesdropper on a vanished style of orchestral playing: the players, with their studied lilt, their poised rubato and their unanimous portamenti, are speaking a shared local dialect. This is how Mahler himself made them sound, one imagines, and theirs is an artistic tradition, soon to be despoiled, that for a memorable hour or so on that winter evening was still perfectly coherent and intact."

This excerpt is from an introduction by Malcolm Bowie to an edition of Freud's 'Outline of Psycholanaysis' and it prompted my purchase of this remarkable performance which is well represented in Professor Bowie's remarks.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for Mahler lovers June 29 2003
By R. J. Claster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Although there are a number of very fine performances of this symphony in good stereo sound, this historic interpretation, given in the shadow of the Nazi takeover of Austria that everyone present knew was just about to occur, has a headlong urgency and intensity that, in my opinion, no subsequent recording has fully matched. Walter phrases with a natural elasticity of rubato, especially in the opening andante commodo movement, that highlights the marked fluctuations of tension within the music and projects its expressive rhetoric into sharper relief. Moreover, the prewar Vienna Philharmonic highlights these qualities with its distinctive way of leaning into phrases that imparts to them added profile and force. There are, admittedly, imprecisions of ensemble here and there, but not to the degree that would compromise the power of the performance. My only significant reservation is that the last movement is taken a little bit too quickly to be a true adagio (for what it is worth, I have heard that Walter later complained that the recording team made him play it faster than he wanted to).
Finally, I would recommend getting this particular remastering because its sound is significantly more vivid than that of the earlier EMI edition.
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