MAHLER: Symphony No. 10 (Carpenter ed.). QIGANG: Five
Singapore Symphony Orch/Lan Shui, cond.
AVIE 2217 (DVD)
AVIE 2011 (BLU RAY DVD)
BUY NOW FROM ARKIVMUSIC
The Singapore Symphony Orchestra and their young conductor, Lan Shui, are
marvelous in this Mahler performance, and the warm acoustics
of the impressive Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore enhance their sound.
No, it is not Abbado
and the Lucerne
the Philarmonie—but it is very good. What is open to question is
the version of the Mahler 10th that was used.
Mahler had finished a phase of his musical and personal life after his
8th symphony, and the 10th struck out in yet another new direction. Additionally,
during it's composition Mahler learned of his beloved young wife Alma's
unfaithfulness and was deeply devastated. However, he was at the absolute
height of his
compositional powers as he began work on the l0th, and completed
the entire score in 4 stave short score draft as well as the full orchestration
of the first, part of the second, and the first 30 bars of the third movement
Then he put the symphony aside to touch up Symphony No. 9, written in
the previous year. This 4 stave technique was standard for Mahler, so one
much where he was going. Of course he never left his works alone, revising
details, markings, and tempi again and again. But the form seldom changed
markedly. The completed sections suggest four flutes, piccolo, four oboes,
four clarinets, three bassoons, two contra bassoons, four horns, four trumpets,
tuba, four trombones, two sets of timpani, tam tam, military drum (to be
muffled), harp and strings. After his death in May of 1911, Alma Mahler
put the work aside, and it was the1920's before she considered allowing
any attempt at preparing a version for performance. In 1923 she introduced
a copy of the entire score with the completed Adagio and Purgatorio (1st
and 3rd movements) to Willlem Mengleberg with the note that the lst and
3rd were “absolutely performable”. His revision was premiered
by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 1924. The flood gates were opened. The
Clinton Carpenter version (started in 1946 and revised in 1966) and more
famously the Deryck Cooke versions. entered the repertory as well
as several other
more recent versions. Cooke became the version of choice since it remained
most true to the original. Carpenter elaborated on the original, enlarging
the orchestra, dynamics and often the score itself. His version, used
in the Singapore release, often quotes from earlier Mahler, and you can
play the game of “which symphony did that fragment come from” endlessly.
There are major quotes from Das Lied von der Erde, Symphony No.
6, and even Symphony No. 1. And there is much more attention paid to drums
This is music for those who want to be more comfortable with this strange
new Mahler. But is it really Mahler or Mahler-Carpenter? Indeed Cooke called
his take on all this a Performing Version, while Carpenter named his "The
Completed Version." A bit audacious indeed.
But either way, this is sublime music. The adagio, most familiar
to us all, is complex, different and lovely. The first scherzo has two
and exciting sections separated by a joyful ländler. The Purgatorio
is short and surprising, the second scherzo starts with a Devil's dance
ends with a coda using both timpanists, bass drum and large military drum.
Mahler wrote “Ah! God! Farewell my lyre!” on the score. The
tympani leads into some of the most beautiful music Mahler ever composed
featuring one of the most heart-rendering melodies ever written for the
flute. Symphony 10 ends
peacefully, as did Das lied and Symphony 9. On the final page
of the score
Mahler wrote to Alma, “To live for you! To die for you!”
Which version to buy? Your choice. My choice – both. This recording
was reviewed from the blue ray disc with
DTS-HD Master Audio surround. No recording wih this state-of-the-art
technology exists of the Cooke version of Mahler's masterpiece except
DVD with his Berlin
orchestra in the DVD Audio issue which, unfortunately, is no longer in
the catalog. Rattle's performance was also issued on CD (EMI
He has likely played the 10th more than anyone, making it sort of a signature
piece. The late Roger Dettmer reviewed the CD issue of this in July 2000
and R.E.B. reviewed the later DVD Audio issue (REVIEW).
On CD there also are recordings of the Cooke version by Michael Gielen
and the South-West
Classics 93124), Simon Rattle with the Bournemouth Symphony
Classics 54406) and the pioneering Columbia 1965 version with
Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra (they had just given the
American premiere), now available on Sony (67874).
And we also have a SACD of the Carpenter version with David Zinman
and the Zurich Tonhalle
on RCA (76895).
Several major conductors, including Abbado, Bernstein, Haitink, and Kubelik
have not played the 10th past the first movement. But as Mahler musicologist
put it. "It is much more important that what Mahler wrote should be
heard than that which he did not write should not be heard." I agree.
Filling out this release is Wo Xing (The Five Elements)
by Chen Qu-gang, a gifted Chinese composer and colleague of Lan Shui. The
Elements consists of 5 short works (each of which can represent
several different things): Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. This
work, as realized by Avie's production staff,
is photographed as a musically and visually fascinating juxtaposition of
color and music, contrasted with the Mahler, which is excellent but
with fairly conventional camera technique with many shots of the hall
and directly into lights for effect.
There are subtitles and a short booklet in English, German, French, and
3 oriental languages, along with a short discussion of each work in English
by Lan Shui, of whom I am sure we will hear much more. This release is
available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
L.R.M. (June 2011)