Symphony No. 5
August 31, 1961
Jascha Horenstein, conductor
I'm a Furtwängler fan, and so I think I hear something of his approach in Horenstein performances, by dint of Jascha Horenstein having been the older conductor's assistant. Something ineffable, the organic feel in the musicmaking makes me imagine that a Furtwangler Mahler 5th joint would be something like what we hear here. I mean no disrespect to Jascha Horenstein by this. Horenstein is another of the sound shapers who consistently make deeply satisfying performances appear out of nowhere! Without much more epicycling, I say this is a very engrossing recording. It just sounded several kinds of terrible from having been poorly sourced.
Now, this is the same recording but with work done to remedy some of that. This Mahler 5th was offered by "a collector who first posted the original, unrestored files on his blog...", MetroGnome Music http://metrognomemusic.blogspot.com/ , which then were taken by GP 49, who worked to improve their problematic sonic profile.
That MetroGnome blog is a treasure trove, and has since posted another expert transfer of this recording: MAHLER: Symphony No. 5Jascha Horenstein and the Berlin Philharmonic
I can't resist pointing you to a 3rd by Horenstein, which lives in that blog as well:
For this version of the 5th, GP49 describes the process of making the recording sound better:
There were several items which needed to be addressed:Several bars were missing from the end of the Finale. [the uploader] had already done a repair to missing bars in the Scherzo,but he had material to work with within the existing file; in thefinale, there wasn't anything that could be used. Fortunately, formany years now, I have had a cassette with the only last ten minutesof the same performance; it sounded just as bad but it had the missingbars.A patch job could be done!The entry of the Scherzo was noisy and abrupt, distorted andtruncated. Some careful and exacting digital editing was needed toextract enough clean signal to reconstruct just that one first note.Generally, noise and hum was reduced though not eliminated.Transitions from silence to movement entries were refined.There were some loud, bass-heavy THUMPS which sounded like somebodybumped the microphone during the recording, which Jascha Horenstein'scousin alleges was made using a microphone in front of a radioloudspeaker. These THUMPS couldn't be made inaudible; all that couldbe done was to filter out the heavy bass.Gross digital clipping in the loudest segments of all movements hadto be addressed. The overall level was dropped to provide someheadroom, and software was applied to attempt a restoration of theclipped portions. The results of this procedure are seldom 100%effective, but they are audible here. Unfortunately some of thedistortion from the digital clipping remains; and there was nothingthat could be done for distortion from analog tape overload, withoutseverely filtering the treble unacceptably.If one carefully listens to the original, it sounds like Horensteinplayed the fourth movement and the Finale without a pause. But Icouldn't tell if this was a poor edit, long ago, on a previousgeneration of the tape. I know someone who was there in Edinburgh atthe concert and he says that there was a definite pause, but a shortone. However, Jascha Horenstein's cousin says that his notes fromother Horenstein performances of Mahler 5 say that the conductorplayed through the IV-V transition without a pause. I've retainedthe split of the two movements onto separate tracks but have put aminimal amount of silence after the hall echo at the end of IV, and aminimal amount before the entry of V. If played consecutively, thismakes the pause very short. For those who prefer a longer silencebetween the movements, there is always the PAUSE control.When played, the original was pitched quite too high: a semitone.That error is a lot, even for a cheap cassette deck; but I have seensome that had that degree of speed error. Under the assumption thatthe pitch error occurred in the analog domain, this means that theoriginal also was playing too fast! The semitone down-transpositionand accompanying 5.6% slowdown altered the portrayal of the entiresymphony; compared to known, good-sounding Horenstein performances ofthe Mahler Sixth Symphony, this Fifth originally sounded too"lightweight."After the pitch/speed correction, the gentleman who actually heardthe concert in Edinburgh said, "it does darken the performance and ismuch closer to what I remember at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh."The result is not perfect; it's no silk purse but it is no longer asow's ear, either. Some distorted patches remain, and there arepitch bobbles that sound like irregularity in reel-to-reel tape feed.I still hope a better copy turns up that will allow this performanceto shine for all it's worth. Jascha Horenstein's cousin is stilltrying to search one out, and we should all hope that he issuccessful; but for now, this is what we have.The downloadable files include an excerpt from the introductorycomments on the 1961 broadcast. The audience's applause withbroadcast exit comments follow the Finale, as in the originalbroadcast.
This is a mono recording of an important historic performance.