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Gustav Mahler, The Complete Symphonies / LPO, Tennstedt Box set, Import

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Nov. 3 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 11
  • Format: Box set, Import
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B00000C2KM
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
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Product Description

Product Description

Klaus Tennstedt conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra through all nine of Mahler's complete symphonies-the ones known as Titan; Resurrection; Tragic; Song of the Night; Symphony of a Thousand , and all the others-plus the opening Adagio of his unfinished Symphony No. 10 . 11 CDs of music plus a suitably epic 72-page booklet!

Hot on the heels of DG's new reissue of the Bernstein's complete Mahler symphonies and song cycles, EMI has repackaged Klaus Tennstedt's recordings of all 10 symphonies. Although he remade symphonies 5 through 7, these are his first versions, essentially the same performances that used to be available in three separate boxes at mid price. Now at budget price, and at virtually a third of the cost of DG's Bernstein set, Tennstedt's Mahler is one hell of a bargain. The performances aren't as consistent as Bernstein's. The London Philharmonic was never a great Mahler orchestra, and minor errors are fairly common, especially in the Sixth Symphony, which was the conductor's own favorite among all his recordings despite the lapses in the brass section. It's a performance of frightening intensity, and it's easy to understand his affection for it. All of Tennstedt's Mahler features such spontaneity, emotional honesty, and real human warmth that reservations about execution and sound largely fall by the wayside. Hearing it again is a deeply moving experience. --David Hurwitz

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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I agree with reviewers who comment that the LPO sometimes lacks the polish of other orchestras, and that Tennstedt sometimes lacks the kind of concentration that Solti can bring (for better *and* worse), but more than any other conductor Tennstedt's Mahler sounds fresher, clearer, and less emotionally contrived. Tennstedt takes a spacious view of Mahler, and his slightly slower tempos often bring a clarity that I find most welcome. It is true that in Nos. 2 and 5, the intensity could be greater, and in No. 9 the more direct view seems a bit too understated (if you're used to Bernstein, like myself). However, Nos. 3, 4, 6, and 8 are absolutely fantastic! Powerful and lyrical, these accounts reveal a depth of musical composition and emotional passion that is tremendously moving. The other symphonies are also excellent, if not outstanding (these symphonies are all very well represented on CD, with a variety of excellent accounts). No. 1 sets the tone right away, and is particularly notable for the less moulded style than Mahler fans may be used to. There are tempo changes that sometimes don't quite seem natural (like in the last mvmt of No. 1), but this did not overly concern me. No. 7 could perhaps be a bit more seductive in the 'night music', but the first and last movements are well conceived and sound strong and convincing.

I own cycles by Solti and Bernstein, with recordings by Walter, Klemperer, Haitink, Abbado, Rattle, Tilson Thomas, and others. The Tennstedt cycle may be the best introduction to Mahler if not the best 'all time'. This is because of his relatively direct, honest, and natural approach to music that so often invites unique personal interpretations. Encountering Bernstein, Solti, Rattle, and others after hearing Tennstedt first may be the wisest (musically) way to go.
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I have the distinct feeling that, in time, Tennstedt's Mahler will grow in the affections of others as it has with me. Simply put, there is something very authentic about these accounts. The sense of commitment is unquestionable. Generally, the interpretations are thoughtful and emotionally satisfying. Tennstedt often digs deeply to ferret a wealth of detail, which provides substantial rewards, including a broader, more fulfilling connection with Mahler's musical messages. (Listen to the thoroughly captivating reading given of the first movement of the Fourth Symphony or the soulful account of the final movement of the Ninth.) The conductor's characterization of these messages tends to be vivid, yet typically free of emotional excess. This is as true of Mahler's uplifting aspects as it is of his anxiety ridden, sardonic and tragic aspects. Where other sets are concerned, I also like Bernstein in his earlier all-New York Philharmonic endeavor and Kubelik with the BRSO on DG. Any of these three compilations merits high marks. Overall, however, it is difficult to pick a clear winner. Each presents individually moving interpretations. My preferred performances in the Bernstein set are 2-3-4-6-7-8 ; in the Tennstedt set, 3-4-5-7-8-9 ; and in the Kubelik set, 1-3-5-7-8-9. (Incidentally, after listening to selected excerpts, I'm anxious to hear some of Kubelik's live and complete performances in his Audite set.).... Sonically, Bernstein's recordings are typically fine (but not the Fifth). Tennstedt's are often clear, detailed and ambient, though sometimes there is brightness and sharpness. Kubelik's are uniformly good except for occasionally tinny sounding trumpets....Read more ›
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Tennstedt was a fine conductor with an amazing personal history, and he has a particular voice with Mahler. There are tremendous moments here, but taken as a whole, the cycle tends to drift. A common problem with most of these performances is that the opening movements are stunning, some of the greatest you'll ever hear [the Sixth, for example], but then the playing and interpretation looses both energy and focus, leaving the listener a touch jejeune. The 8th is the highlight of this cycle, and it is wonderful, but as a whole, this is not a great set.
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There are quite a few reasons why you should get this set and among them are:
overall sound quality, budget price, a fine conductor considered to be a first rate Mahler interpreter, and a quality orchestra.
I love this box set and I cannot get enough of it. Im supremely happy that this is my first box set of Mahler symphonies. My next stops are the Solti and Bernstein, but when they are so much more expensive im counting my blessings i have this one.
Sure there are some occasional orchestral blunders, but they are hardly noticable when you judge the package as a whole. You wont find better interpretations out there for Symphonies Nos. 1,3,6,7,and 8. The impact of the 1,3,and 6 are umparalleled.
Its hard to think of a version of the 8th any better than Solti's famed 1971? But there is a lot to be said of this one as well. I particularly like the overall slower tempo that Tennstedt takes in the 8th because it adds to a magnificant build it up in the middle of the Part I. There is an overall more bass like quality to the entire piece which enhances its religious and dramatic effect I feel.
Great box set, you wont be disappointed.
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