Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mahler 6th: Sir Mark Elder and the Russian National Orchestra dig in

Mahler's Sixth Symphony. A broadcast recording of a performance that's just really enjoyable.

Gustav Mahler

Symphony No. 6

Russian National Orchestra

Sir Mark Elder, conductor

Live broadcast from Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Moscow

April 17, 2009

After the choices offered on the StateWork blog so far in Mahler symphonies, the specific performance for the Sixth was presenting a greater challenge. There isn't excessive repetition of pieces here, although admittedly there are 'other' recordings of #s 9 and 3 planned for the near future.

Then a few weeks ago this crossed the speakers at State Work, and so here it is. I really love the care with which the orchestra negotiates the myriad turns and expanses of this work. For example, at 6:47 in the Scherzo there is a molar-rattling slowdown and drag though the mud like no other; the strings aren't shy to dig in throughout the performance, when called for. It brings to mind a Barbirolli rehearsal recording where he goads the low strings into really pushing it near the beginning of a Bruckner 7th, repeatedly. I think what Maestro Elder and the Russian National Orchestra achieve here would make Sir John proud- the affinities between the two conductors are more than just a few.

The cover was made from a "...Mark Elder and the Russian National Orchestra rehearsing at the Moscow State Conservatory named after Pyotr Tchaikovsky" photo by Vladimir Vyatkin, STF

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bruckner's 4th in a beautiful, haunting in-house 1993 recording

If you've already heard some performances of Bruckner 4th symphonies,
 please consider pretending you never did. Then press play.

Anton Bruckner
Symphony No. 4 in E-flat "Romantic"

Munchner Philharmoniker
Sergiu Celibidache, conductor

Live in-house recording from Symphony Hall, Osaka, Japan 
20 April 1993, shared by Ray (who also made up the art!)

I Allegro molto moderato (Bewegt, nicht zu schnell) 
II Andante, quasi allegretto
III Scherzo: Bewegt
IV Finale: Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell 

Ever since I came across this recording, I've been haunted by it. Maybe it's an early Halloween celebration as such. What I mean is it keeps reminding me of some detail or weighting of textures that I want to hear again, then again a week later. It helped to rediscover an already favorite symphony.What I mean in the comment about pretending not have ever known a Bruckner 4th before listening to this one, is to incorporate a bit of Zen philosophy, known to be dear to Maestro Celibidache:

"..Not knowing immediately opens into endless possibilities. When you know, you’re very limited. As Suzuki Roshi says, the beginner’s mind has countless possibilities. The mind of the expert is very small. It shows an unwillingness to really hear anything..."

Ray boils it down:
"...Even for Celibidache, the tempo for the coda of the Finale is glacial 
but somehow it becomes almost hypnotic.  To my ears it works but you 
really must clear your mind of every other performance of the Bruckner 
Four you have ever heard and take this one on its own terms. 

But shouldn't you really do that with any performance? "

Right on.