Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Shared Mahler Mania!

The following is a conversation I had with my Facebook friend, Matt Burke. Matt is a professional trumpet player and teacher who lives in Manchester, England.

Matt Burke: Thanks for this, Gary. It's very interesting to hear him discuss the order of the middle movements, having performed it both ways. I've always listened to it with the scherzo first, feeling that having the andante 3rd allows a contrast of mood before the great finale. But, I'm coming round to the idea of the andante being played 2nd, both for just the reasons that Fischer gives, but - like with the 2nd symphony -- the 1st movement is so huge, up -- tempo and dynamic and feels complete by the end, the andante is the balm that the ear needs after that. The scherzo then had more impact after the slow movement and sets the unnerving tone for the finale... I'll have to give it a good listen that way round and see.

I'm playing the 6th with Wilmslow Symphony in a few weeks - can't wait. Wonder which order Ken Woods will put the middle movements..

Gary Freedman: BTW, I actually wore out my VHS tape of the Mahler 8th -- Haha! I had it for 17 years. And it is no more!

Matt Burke: The Bernstein one, I bet?

Gary Freedman: Yes, of course!

Matt Burke: That's with the LSO, isn't it? Or is it Vienna?

Gary Freedman: Vienna. I think the performance was in about 1975.

Matt Burke: Yes, I've seen it somewhere, it's something else! I just thought it might be the LSO because it's the LSO on his Mahler cycle recordings I think..

Gary Freedman: I used to have the LSO recording. It was my first Mahler record. I was 13 years old when I got it.

Matt Burke: The 8th is a funny one on record in that most of the best actual performances (like Solti/CSO, that Bernstein LSO and Horenstein LSO - which if you don't know, was the British premiere at the proms and is a BLINDER, re-released from the old tapes on BBC Legends) are terribly recorded. My favourites are Chailly/Concertgebouw (fabulously recorded as well), Tennstedt/LPO and the little known Wyn Morris with the Symphonica of London! I was about 16 when Mahler took grip of my life!

Gary Freedman: I used to have the Wyn Morris recording.

Gary Freedman: I first heard Mahler when I was 13. A recording of the 8th was being broadcast on radio. I didn't know what it was. But I was amazed by it!!

Matt Burke: Isn't it amazing?

Matt Burke: I just love John Mitchinson's tenor voice on it. Also, there are just a couple of moments that are so played out with grandeur and majesty in a way that no other performance has, that it remains at the top for me for that!

Gary Freedman: Yes!! Here's Michael Tilson Thomas talking about his introduction to Mahler: 

Matt Burke: I'll watch this again, it's fabulous, but if you look there are a whole host of these with all the great conductors! The sad thing is the ones in German that I can't understand and they don't have subtitles!!

Matt Burke: It's funny how it's Das Lied for MTT! that's the last one for me to come to! I still haven't absorbed it yet!

Gary Freedman: I actually remember the first time I heard Das Lied on the radio. It was a snowy day in early March in 1969. I was 15 years old. It's funny how everyone who loves Mahler has so many personal recollections of his music, how and where they first heard his music. The music is so personal, that people relate to it in such a very personal way.

Matt Burke: Absolutely, but the one common denominator between us all, more than any other composer - is that for one reason or another, it was a life changing process . . .

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