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Symphony No6 Box set

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

Price: CDN$ 30.87
Only 2 left in stock.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Oct. 29 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B00006EXK1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #107,827 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Disc: 1
1. I. Allegro Energico, Ma Non Troppo: Heftig, Aber Markig
2. II. Scherzo: Wuchtig
3. III. Andante Moderato
Disc: 2
1. IV. Finale: Allegro Moderato (Original Version)
2. IV. Finale: Allegro Moderato (Revised Version)
Disc: 3
1. Benjamin Zander Discusses Mahler's Sixth Symphony
2. Benjamin Zander Discusses Mahler's Sixth Symphony
3. Benjamin Zander Discusses Mahler's Sixth Symphony
4. Benjamin Zander Discusses Mahler's Sixth Symphony
5. Benjamin Zander Discusses Mahler's Sixth Symphony

Product Description

Product Description

Mahler: Symphony No. 6 Tragic - Benjamin Zander / Philharmonia Orchestra

Benjamin Zander's ongoing Telarc Mahler series continues with a Sixth Symphony that will please those who have followed his earlier Mahler outings, but it doesn't challenge such outstanding Sixths as those by Bernstein (either his earlier Sony or the later DG), Gielen (Hänssler), and Levi (also on Telarc). Like Gielen, he steers a middle course between the overtly emotional Bernstein and the coolly objective Levi. There's much to admire in his performance, such as the beautifully phrased "Alma" theme and a Scherzo movement notable for spirited playing and rhythmic precision. The opening march, though, disappoints with its slow tempo and stiff phrasing, and elsewhere, passages betray signs of inadequate rehearsal or an inability to sustain tension. Next to Bernstein's harrowing finale, Zander's seems tame, though he excels in projecting Mahler's coloristic touches. Like other Zander recordings, this one includes a bonus lecture disc, an interesting discussion of Mahler's revision of the symphony and whether there should be two or three hammer blows. Zander resolves that dilemma by adding another bonus disc that includes both versions of the finale, and in both, Zander ensures that those mighty hammer blows really rock. --Dan Davis

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

A lot of details come through in this recording. But Zander's choice of tempo can sometimes disappoint. I prefer the overall headier speeds on Karajan's version (DG label). Still Zander makes a very persuasive argument for placing the Scherzo BEFORE the Andante and for having THREE hammerblows (listen to the bonus discussion CD). I too feel that THREE hammerblows are needed and wish guys like Karajan and Bernstein had conducted the original version of the 4th mvt.
NOW ABOUT ZANDER'S DISCUSSION CD -- Some of his analysis is plain off, even way off, e.g. -
4TH MVT: Zander claims the "Hero" of the symphony reaches an exultant/victorious state right before the third hammer-blow when actually what you hear is the "scarifying" (his own words) music from the start of this mvt. The true way to divide this mvt is by the four appearances of the "scarifying" theme.
1ST MVT: I'm not sure if the "Alma theme" in the 1st mvt was meant to be one of "unbridled" ecstasy and triumph. The theme is actually interrupted halfway by more march music, albeit jovial (something Zander makes no mention of). On you can read an analysis by Henri-Louis La Grange, a pre-eminent Mahlerian, who says that this jovial march casts doubt on the "positive nature" of the Alma theme. And in the coda, this theme reaches a "bombastic" crescendo as if the hero was trying to CONVINCE himself of victory, but without really believing it. In other words -- the guy's just trying to psyche himself out. On the Karajan version you can really hear the fake optimism of this theme, especially in the coda. Karajan turns it into a maniacal frenzy. Zander, on the other hand, interprets it in a way that makes it more "positive." But again, I don't believe this was the true intent of Mahler.
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Gosh, I was really hoping that this would be the one - but it isn't. I agree with Amazon critic Dan Davis' assessment of this performance's shortcomings. But I'm not much taken with Davis' suggested alternatives. Gielen strikes me as emotionally constipated, and Levi sounds cold and mechanical. And I just can't get past Bernstein's typically stagey "Look Ma, I'm Emoting!" theatrics.
Zander's Mahler is just a bit TOO civilized. I only wish his performances of Mahler were even HALFWAY as interesting as the lecture discs that accompany them. Very frustrating. As with Bruckner's, the spacious sound world of Mahler just screams for good stereo. I do have a very high tolerance for old mono recordings, largely because of my belief that the "Golden Age" of great conducting (with a few exceptions) ended sometime around 1970.
Until now, my favorite stereo 6th has been the Barbirolli, which offers a tremendously exciting finale. But like Zander, only more so, Barbirolli opts for a first mvt. tempo that is just TOO slow. At least he doesn't take the repeat: otherwise, it would have been the sort of "epic in bloat" that was Celibidache's specialty (fortunately, the Romanian conductor disliked Mahler and left no recordings).
My favorite 6ths are thus all in mono: the extraordinarily neurotic Mitropoulos (available only as part of the NY Phil. 10-disc Mahler broadcast set), the dementia-laden Scherchen/Leipzig (with some grievous cuts, on Tahra), the work's very first recording, by Mahler protegee F. Charles Adler (old sound but tremendous insights, imperfectly realized by subpar playing, on SPA LPs - it was issued in England on Conifer CDs in a miserable transfer), and the 1961 SW German Radio reading by Hans Rosbaud (Rococco LP).
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I don't believe there exists such a thing as a bad recording of Mahler 6. This work, arguably the most structurally and stylistically cogent and coherent of the nine (ten, eleven), seems always to draw the very best from its performers; or maybe it simply is so good that it can be performed in many different ways without ever falling flat. Thus I cherish Chailly's rugged and sumptuous reading as much as the coolly detached analysis by Boulez. However, Bernstein's final recording on DG has been an easy and unchallenged winner ever since its appearance a decade and a half ago. To my surprise this recording under Zander does not change that. Surprise, because I was (and am) completely blown of my feet by Zander's recording of Mahler's Ninth. I had expected something equally stunning here, especially after raving press reviews of the concert performances - but I didn't find it. This is simply a perfectly good recording of the work, with some very good highlights, but nothing much to set it apart from, let alone place it above, the best of the existing recordings. The first movement is the least involving. There is too little dynamic contrast, and many of the myriad shadings of foreboding and horror that suffuse this movement are leveled out. Listen to bar 379 and compare that to Bernstein: HE understands the horrible implications of this plunge down from the bliss and ecstasy of love straight back into the abyss, where the obnoxious marching theme rears it ugly head once more. With Zander it is just a passing moment without much special significance, and even the violent outburst a few bars later has no shock-value. It's simply too polite and too cultivated; with Bernstein it is an assault.
Things get a lot better in the middle movements.
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