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Symphony 9


Price: CDN$ 18.86
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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • ASIN: B000002S0R
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #156,869 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
I disagree with "je" (below) that Dutton's mastering is better. It certainly is different: louder and more present than EMI's, but not more "musical". The Dutton engineers (as is their wont) equalized the recording to emphasize the fundamental signal for the sake of eliminating surface noise, but also to the detriment of the timbral colors of the upper frequencies wherein also lies the surface noise. I found Dutton's mastering screechy and fatiguing to my ears after a very short period of listening, and therefore discarded it. EMI's original CD transfer, despite more mechanical noises from its source 78s, reveals more "bloom" and "air" around the instruments as well as far superior hall ambience, an intoxicating acoustical presence of a venerable Viennese concert hall. Therefore I have kept it and likewise recommend to you EMI's CD of the "classic" performance, if still available.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
One of the most poignant moments in music captured on record July 21 2000
By B. Yoon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am forever grateful for the insight that Fred Gaisberg had in recording this concert, Walter's last before the Anschluss. One must remember that soon after this concert, Walter, along with the other Jewish musicians, were in grave danger. Due to this unfortunate situation, it resulted in an emotionally charged performance by one of the finest orchestras in the world at its peak.
George Szell considered the string playing of European orchestras during the time between the two world wars to be the ideal standard that all should strive for. I strongly believe that this recording is the supreme example of that level of playing. Not only does one hear superb bowing technique, one hears exceedingly subtle nuances very clearly as a result of the orchestra's committment to a unified musical message. All the little slides are just gorgeous.
Mahler's 9th is one of the ultimate human expressions of farewell. He looks back on his tragic-laden life and still accepts his inevitable fate in peace. This concert gives a new meaning to that farewell and this makes it such a poignant recording. My favorite along with Horenstein- LSO and Abbado-VPO.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Heart-breaking echos from 1938 Nov. 27 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 at all before, this recording by Walter is not the one for you. Barbirolli's and Haitink's (with Amsterdam) Ninth combines good sound with excellent playing. And Karajan's ninth with the BPO is also a good place to start, although there are those who argue that Karajan did not produce the Mahlerian sound with the BPO.
For those who already have a Mahler 9 and wish to supplement their already valuable collection with historical recordings and alternative interpretations, well, what are you waiting for? Grab this CD. You can go no more historical than this. This was Walter's last performance with the VPO before he fled Austria to escape the Nazis. One hears in the music the tension of those last remaining days before the war, or so I imgaine.
The playing of the orchestras might draw different opinions from critics, the sound is admittedly of low quality ( though in view of the date - 1938, the engineers in charge of the remastering must have done wonders), but mix them all together, and the result is potent electrifying music! Listen to the first movement and feel your goose pimples rise, for this was what it did to me on the first listening, and still does.
Get this, in this remastering or any other. It is worth your while.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Benchmark forever Jan. 16 2000
By Johannes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a truely fascinating recording, for several reasons: It has been recorded 52 years ago in Vienna (just weeks before the Anschluss) by Walter who had to leave the country soon after that January 16, 1938. Walter conducted the first performance of this symphony 1912 (two years after Mahler's death) with many of the musicians who play in the 1938 recording. Remastered from the original 78rpm shellac this recording brings unexpectedly rich sound (though Mono). And I don't need to talk about the thrilling interpretation of Walter. For me this recording is a Must for any Mahler lover.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Dutton's not better Dec 9 2003
By "davidissimo" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I disagree with "je" (below) that Dutton's mastering is better. It certainly is different: louder and more present than EMI's, but not more "musical". The Dutton engineers (as is their wont) equalized the recording to emphasize the fundamental signal for the sake of eliminating surface noise, but also to the detriment of the timbral colors of the upper frequencies wherein also lies the surface noise. I found Dutton's mastering screechy and fatiguing to my ears after a very short period of listening, and therefore discarded it. EMI's original CD transfer, despite more mechanical noises from its source 78s, reveals more "bloom" and "air" around the instruments as well as far superior hall ambience, an intoxicating acoustical presence of a venerable Viennese concert hall. Therefore I have kept it and likewise recommend to you EMI's CD of the "classic" performance, if still available.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Despite the 1938 sonics, a musical experience unparalleled to this day - but better heard on the 2004 remastering Nov. 6 2011
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
One can dispute that it is always great recordings of the century that EMI has reissued in its "Great Recordings of the Century" collection, but Bruno Walter's conducting of Mahler's 9th Symphony, recorded live in Vienna on January 13, 1938, certainly is. First, because it is the premiere recording of the symphony, Mahler's penultimate (that's counting the unfinished 10th), first sketched during the summer of 1908 as the composer was working on Das Lied von der Erde, then completed in draft form in the summer of 1909. Second, because Walter has unique legitimacy in this work. He was then Mahler's favorite disciple and there were long exchanges of correspondence between them in that period, although Henry-Louis de la Grange, in his mammoth Mahler biography, doesn't record that Walter discussed the score with the composer as he did with Das Lied. Finally, Walter premiered the piece on June 26, 1912, shortly after Mahler's death, and already with the Vienna Philharmonic. I hesitate to call Walter the closest recipient of Mahler's intentions as can be and his most truthful interpreter, not only because this recording dates from more than a quarter century after the premiere and almost thirty years after the work's completion and any possible conversation Walter might have had with Mahler about it, but also because Mahler himself considered that the composer's intentions were never definitive and were only those expressed on the day of performance. So there can be no certainty that Walter's interpretation in 1938 can give an idea of the way Mahler would have conducted it, had he not died. Still, there is a direct line between Walter and Mahler, that only Mengelberg - another early champion of Mahler's cause, much appreciated by the composer - can emulate; more important still, Walter's interpretation in 1938 is unique and special enough to substantiate at least the thought that this is as close as we've ever had to the way Mahler would have done it. It is far removed from any later interpretive paradigm in this piece, especially in its adoption of brisk tempi in the outer movements that (other than the maverick Scherchen in a recording made for the Austrian radio in 1950 but that was published only in 1990, Mahler: Symphony No. 9) no subsequent version that I know has paralleled, and it is filled with a unique emotional intensity.

But to hear all that you possibly can of it, despite the constricted 1938 sonics, you need to go to the 2004 remastering, Mahler: Symphony No. 9, which has considerably improved things over this previous one from 1989, with less swish noise and cracks from the 78rmp surfaces, more orchestral presence and much more impact given to the brass outbursts (but also a little more glare and harshness, and even a measure of saturation in some climaxes). You will also find my detailed review of Walter's interpretation under the 2004 remastering CD.


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