most fascinating, if rather uneven, recordings of Mahler’s
Fourth and Eighth Symphonies. Tennstedt captures a wonderful
delicacy and dancing quality at opening of the Fourth.
Although he lingers lovingly on the pauses and tenutos,
it is nonetheless an impulsive first movement overall.
He brings the second movement In
gemachlicher Bewegung - Ohne Hast
to life with
some very vivid bird and woodland
noises. He follows this with an extremely intense, sombre,
and serious Ruhevoll
, full of yearning, where
he contrast the dark and brooding solemnity with occasional
light romantic touches. Lucia Popp is the excellent soloist
for Sehr behaglich
Tennstedt obtains a translucent sound from the London Philharmonic.
taken Fourth at a decent enough pace, Tennstedt now launches
into a Veni, creator spiritus
that is just
too fast, losing the majesty of that wonderful opening.
It is good to have a sense of momentum in this piece, but
this is just too rushed, too garbled. This is compounded
by the soloists … and also by the rather hard and harsh
sound, which rather lacks warmth. Although the soloists
are good singers, they come across here as wail-y and wild,
and the sense is that of an impending lack of control,
as if the horses are running away with the cart. Although
some may find this exhilarating, to my ear it was too brash – to
the extent that the fourth movement Accende
is almost cacophonous – a wall of wild sound rather lacking in beauty.
And yet, by the time we reach the fifth movement, we are
caught up in it and the exhilaration finally ensnares one.
In Gloria, Patri Domino
– with its histrionic Wagnerian
soprano and mighty organ, we have the incredibly un-English
scenario of an English choir and orchestra singing and
playing as if these were the last notes they were ever
going to sing on earth. Taken still at a dashing pace,
Tennstedt leads this raucous, fervent, fervid, manic music-making
to a staggering climax.
this driven – almost to the extent of being uncontrolled
- first part, Part Two arrives with a great shock for the
listener as Tennstedt creates a tremendous atmosphere of
spaciousness and desolation at start of Waldung, sie schwankt heran
. Curiously enough, despite this appropriate
air of bleakness, Tennstedt fails
to plumb the depths of despair something that other conductors
do achieve in this movement. At its very best, this movement
can feel as though your heart is going to drop out of your
ribcage, but Tennstedt doesn’t really make it work and
the movement doesn’t, alas, hang together. The remainder
of Part Two is just rather unfocused – strange.
this is not a version I would unhesitatingly recommend,
it is most certainly one that contains some incredible,
and intriguing, effects, and is worth a hearing at the
very least, for curiosity value if nothing else!
EMI Great Recordings of the Century reviews