It was bound to happen sooner or later: pretty much everything known by Mahler put into one box (16 cd's).EMI and DG–which also drew on the catalogues of Decca and Philips–have each produced complete-edition boxed sets to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Mahler's birth. One set seems like an inexhaustible treasure trove; the other one is more like a mere assemblage of all of Mahler's music.
Claudio Abbado was undeniably the supreme Mahler conductor of our time. With his Lucerne Festival Orchestra he has set new standards in the field of classical music, especially in the interpretation of works by Gustav Mahler. The core of the orchestra is provided by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, itself an élite body of players. Soloists like violinist Kolja Blacher, clarinettist Sabine Meyer, oboist Albrecht Mayer, violist Wolfram Christ, cellist Natalia Gutman, the Hagen Quartet and members of the Alban Berg Quartet to name just a few, make the Lucerne Festival Orchestra a star-studded ensemble.
"This is yet another triumph for PentaTone’s RQR series. With visionary conducting and exemplary playing and singing, this set is a treasure to listen to from both an audiophiles' and a musician’s perspective. (…) To sum up: for all Mahlerians, this is an essential addition to the discography." ~SA-CD.net
"…[The Korngold] songs are quite wonderful, and we listeners should be grateful for Kirchschlager's persuasive advocacy….Pianist Helmut Deutsch is several notches above most accompanists, with his consideration of the soloist and his expressive nuances…" ~American Record Guide
Mahler’s Resurrection has been much recorded in recent years, so much so that new versions prompt one to groan inwardly and mutter: ‘Not another one’. Such ubiquity has its price, for any newcomer has to be something out of the ordinary if it’s to have any impact. Of recent releases David Zinman (Sony-BMG), Jonathan Nott (Tudor) and James Levine (Orfeo) definitely belong in this category; Vladimir Jurowski (LPO) and Markus Stenz (Oehms) manifestly don’t. And now Oehms are taking another bite out of the cherry, with the Hamburg orchestra led by their chief conductor Simone Young. Curiously, this was recorded at around the same time as the Stenz Mahler 2, which seems extravagant in this already overstocked field.
I got this disc a couple of years ago; a recent hearing showed me it had lost none of its power. Ernst Krenek (1900-91) is a pretty obscure figure, but on the evidence of his 2nd Symphony he ought to be better known. The 2nd is an audacious anarcho-symphony. Two huge, sloppy outer movements surround a rather dour scherzo; a sort of anti-structure is created by filling the piece with masses ……..Scott Spires @Amazon.com
In October 2014, Michael Gielen issued a press release announcing that he had been forced to end his conducting activities for health reasons. On this occasion, and also with his 90th birthday in July 2017 in mind, it is time to listen to the different phases of a long conducting career. The Michael Gielen Edition offers this opportunity. It comprises several volumes of varying size, dedicated to individual composers or major historical periods. The recordings in this sixth volume have all been taken from the SWR’s Baden-Baden archive. Hence they are all performed by “his” orchestra, recently named the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg. Presumably the earliest recording of a Mahler symphony conducted by Gielen was at a concert of the Hessischer Rundfunk (public broadcaster for the German state of Hessen), where the Fifth Symphony was played in December 1963, and his last recording of a Mahler symphony was the Sixth Symphony performed in a guest concert of the SWR Symphony Orchestra at the Salzburg Festival on August 21, 2013.
You will probably be as incredulous as I was to learn that the greatest cycle of Mahler symphonies comes not from any of the usual suspects - Abbado, Bernstein, Chially, Haitink, Kubelik, Rattle, Sinopoli, Solti, Tennstedt - but from the unsung Gary Bertini, who spent the better part of his career as music director of the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra. Unlike any of those more publicized sets, each of which includes a misfire or two, Bertini is consistently successful from first to last; his performance of each of these works can stand comparison with the very best available.