MAHLER: Symphony No. 1 in D "Titan." Symphony No.
2 in C minor "Resurrection."
Symphony No. 3 in D minor "Nature." Symphony No. 4 in G. Symphony
No. 5 in C# minor. Symphony No. 7 in E minor "Song of the Night." Symphony
No. 9 in D. Songs of a Wayfarer. Four excerpts from Des
MAHLER: Symphony No. 1 in D "Titan." Symphony No. 8 in E flat "Symphony
of a Thousand."
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 13 in C, K. 415. Piano Concerto No. 20 in
D minor, K. 466.
Lovers of Mahler rejoice!! Several months ago this site reviewed DGG DVD videos of Mahler's symphonies 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 with Haitink and the Berlin Philharmonic, all outstanding both in performance, video and sonics (see REVIEW). Now, courtesy of Philips, we have some of the conductor's earlier Mahler performance from Amsterdam. About six years ago a set of 9 CDs containing 7 symphonies was issued in the Philips Dutch Masters series with performances by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink, the audio of their Eurovision Christmas Matin Concerts. These were reviewed on this site at the time of release (see REVIEW), where you can find specific dates for all of these performances. Now we have these on video, and in superb four-channel "surround sound". Camera work is generally excellent although for my taste there are too many views of the audience and scenes from Holland—particularly in Symphony No. 5. A tracking cue in Symphony No. 5 isn't exactly where it should be. But let us not quibble—there is magnificent, thrilling music making here, particully the stunning performance of Symphony No. 7. An 88-minute documentary focuses on Haitink and includes brief excerpts of performances and rehearsals from the Royal Opera, Dresden and Berlin, as well as a video of an excerpt from Mahler's Symphony No. 8—and one wonders why the entire work wasn't included in this new set as obviously a video exists. This set is entirely in Dutch with no surtitles. As of this writing, there are no plans to issue it other than in Holland. You can get it from: firstname.lastname@example.org
More Mahler can be seen on EMI's new set with conductor Klaus Tennstedt that contains Symphony No. 1 recorded with the Chicago Symphony in Orchestra Hall in May/June 1990, and Symphony No. 8 from concerts in Royal Festival Hall January 2-28, 1991. EMI issued a CD of this performance of Symphony No. 1, which didn't last long in the catalog. It is just about the longest performance ever recorded, well over an hour, more than ten minutes longer than Mahler specialist Bruno Walter's Columbia Symphony version, and considerably longer than Tennstedt's 1977 recording with the London Philharmonic. Although wonderfully played by the CSO, this is not a major addition to the Mahler discography. Symphony No. 8 fares better, but it also is more expansive than Tennstedt's 1986 EMI recording with the same orchestra, which recently was issued at super-budget price on EMI CDs (72941, 11 disks). The 1991 performance is excellent in every way, with outstanding soloists. Audio is not up to the usual BBC standards, and surely this is not true "surround sound." The video director assures that we see Mater Gloriosa and the extra brass contingent in the balconies. The only video competition Tennstedt has is Leonard Bernstein's 1975 Vienna performance which uses a much smaller chorus (see REVIEW). We are still waiting for a truly great performance of Mahler's massive symphony on video.
Mitsuko Uchida is a consummate artist and on DGG's DVD is seen conducting two Mozart piano concertos from the keyboard. Her playing is exquisite as always, her conducting rather indefinite and she is fortunate to have the fine Camerata Salzburg to accompany her in spite of her waving hands when not playing. Uchida has observed that "Mozart's concertos simply don't need a conductor," an odd statement indeed. These performances were recorded in Salzburg's Mozarteum March 2-4, 2001, beautifully photographed, richly recorded. A German-language 20-minute documentary called "I'll play Bach when I'm seventy" gives Uchida's comments about various aspects of music and performance.
R.E.B. (December 2006)