£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

alternatively AmazonUK AmazonUS


Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (1909) [79:42]
BBC Philharmonic/Kurt Sanderling
rec. BBC Studio 7, Manchester, 17 July 1982. ADD
BBC LEGENDS BBCL42322 [79:42] 

Experience Classicsonline


The great German conductor, Kurt Sanderling (b.1912) retired from conducting in 2002. Among his many admirers is Sir Simon Rattle so itís quite interesting that this live Sanderling recording of Mahlerís last fully completed symphony should appear almost contemporaneously with Rattleís superb new account (see review).

I had assumed that this was the first time this recording had been issued, although I was aware that Sanderling had made two commercial recordings of the work, one in the late 1970s with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and one for Erato in the early 1990s with the Philharmonia. It was only after Iíd finished listening to it and I searched the web for catalogue details of those performances that I discovered that this present traversal has been available before, on the old BBC Radio Classics label. Moreover, in that original incarnation it was praised by my colleague, Tony Duggan, in his survey of recordings of the Ninth. I have not heard the aforementioned Philharmonia performance, which is now deleted, but I see from his review that Tony admired that recording less than this one with the BBC Philharmonic. I was very pleased to find that Tony felt as enthusiastic about this current version as I do though we find different things in the performance.

Those who prefer an emotionally charged approach to this work Ė and itís a valid way to look at it Ė will probably be lukewarm about this performance. At first hearing it sounds sober, even detached. But Mahlerís Ninth is a profound work of art and it reveals itself in many ways. For me, this Sanderling reading is objective, noble and patient and, above all, itís a reading of great integrity. Thatís a combination of qualities that brings its own rewards in this work. In some ways, and especially in its integrity and determination to let the music speak for itself, it reminds me of Giuliniís fine, patrician reading with the Chicago Symphony on DG (see review).

The huge and complex first movement begins gently, almost tentatively. Is it my imagination or has Sanderling encouraged a hint of East European timbre in the little horn motif ? (0:17) In the first couple of minutes the music has a singing, bitter-sweet feel that I find very attractive. From 2:03, however, thereís much more ardour yet the first big climax (2:54) sounds noble rather than angst-laden.

One feature of this movement, and indeed of the whole performance, is that Sanderling and the BBC engineers achieve excellent balance within the orchestra. The string lines are accorded their rightful position in the sound spectrum and the brass and woodwind sections come over clearly without excessive dominance. The percussion section is nicely balanced Ė listen out for the tam-tam. The horns are given a fair, but not excessive, degree of prominence but thatís abundantly justified both by Mahlerís writing and by the splendid playing of the BBC Philís horn section. Some may feel that the harp is a bit too forward in the balance during the first movement but the instrument is a crucial element in the scoring of this movement and Iím delighted to hear it register so well.

As the first movement unfolds Sanderling never wears his heart on his sleeve but I donít feel he short changes the listener. The emotion is kept in perspective in a thoroughly musical reading. In a word, the performance is controlled. When the big moments arrive Sanderling and his players have ample power but itís the more subtly scored pages that really catch my ear, especially since the BBC Phil members are playing out of their skins for their distinguished guest conductor. When we reach the coda (23:07) the mood is wistfully nostalgic as a very thoughtful and satisfying account of this towering movement comes to a close.

Thereís a good lift to the rhythms at the start of the second movement, which Sanderling takes at a relatively brisk basic tempo. At times the music sounds quite genial and the true mood of a lšndler is well conveyed. Sanderling seems to relish Mahlerís sardonic wit yet, once again, he refuses to overplay his hand. In his hands the movement functions as a kind of interlude after the weightier matters of the preceding movement and I welcome this.

The Rondo-Burleske has genuine bite and snarl as it opens. The music is taken at a fairly measured pace and this gives it proper weight. The BBC wind and brass sections excel. At 6:20 the nostalgic passage that prefigures the finale features a shining trumpet solo. Sanderling doesnít milk these pages as some conductors do and heís convincing, presenting the music in a straightforward manner. That means, for example, that when the perky little interjections by the clarinet start to take us back to the Rondo itself (8:45) those little figures sound more than ever like Till Eulenspiegel thumbing his nose at us. The final fling of the Rondo material is suitably exciting but as ever Sanderling keeps a firm hand on the tiller.

And so to the finale. By now one is not surprised to find the conductor taking a measured view and employing a degree of restraint. That said, thereís no coolness in the opening paragraphs, where the strings play marvellously for him. Sanderling seems to see the music in long spans and the music making, while controlled, has a fine sense of line and is not lacking in intensity Ė but the intensity is properly channelled. The climax (14:52) is magnificent and all the more powerful because Sanderling hasnít peaked too soon. In the passage immediately following that climax the horns, splendid throughout the whole performance, ring out ripely. The last four or five minutes of music have a wonderful air of dignified resignation. As the last few pages unfold, with the music dying away on an ever-thinning thread of sound I wondered if the BBC Philharmonic string players have ever played so quietly or with such concentration.

This is a performance of great integrity and musicality. I donít think Sanderling ever conducted more than a handful of Mahler works but this recording suggests very powerfully that he was totally at home with the idiom. A reading such as this can only have been the result of extensive study of the score and reflection about the music. Iím glad to find that he doesnít seek to ring out the last drop of ďmeaningĒ or emotion from the symphony. When I want that approach there are other conductors to whom I can turn but Sanderling is very satisfying. His direct and unpretentious way with the score presents the music without frills and, especially, without an undue imposition of his own personality Ė though thatís not to say that the reading lacks character, for it doesnít.

It only remains to say that the BBC Philharmonic plays splendidly for Sanderling, as you may have gathered already from my comments. Furthermore, the analogue recording is excellent, being both full and clear.

At the last count I had sixteen other recordings of the Mahler Ninth in my collection. But as itís one of the supreme symphonic achievements of the last century one can always learn something new about it so exposure to it through a variety of recordings and live performances is important. This Sanderling performance is a most honourable addition to my collection. Itís a fine achievement and Iím delighted to see it restored to general circulation.

John Quinn


 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Prťalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallť
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.