One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


CD: Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Symphony No. 3 in D Minor (1893-96) [99:23]
Marjana Lipovsek (alto solo)
Wiener Sängerknaben; Frauenchor des Wiener Singverein
Bavarian State Orchestra/Zubin Mehta
rec. live, 16 September 2004, Grossen Saal, Vienna Musikverein. SACD
FARAO CLASSICS S108047 [61:48 + 37:35]
Experience Classicsonline

Although primarily known as an opera orchestra, the Bavarian State Orchestra holds its own annual series of symphony concerts at its home in the Bavarian State Opera. These are called the Academy Concerts. This recording comes from a tour of one of these concerts: Mahler’s Third Symphony, taken down live at Vienna’s legendary Musikverein.

The disc serves both as a wonderful Mahler recording and a tour souvenir; the programme note by a member of the orchestra describes the tour process. The orchestra members are named individually, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately the programme notes on the work itself are only in German.

From the outset, there is a richness and clarity to the sound, and the orchestra’s experience with opera comes through in Mahler’s dramatic and characteristic writing. Zubin Mehta’s relationship with this orchestra is clearly a good one; he draws out the best sounds from all the players and his phrasing has a wonderful sense of line and direction. The heavy, almost Wagnerian sound of the opening gives way to a lightness of touch when the music requires it, and at other times a sense of stately elegance overwhelms the scene.

Mahler’s music is at once hypnotic and schizophrenic; the constantly changing moods and characters need to be understood and portrayed with care, and this orchestra achieves this spectacularly. The recording is also very well balanced; the strong tuttis can be heard without being allowed to dominate, while the textural details of individual wind and brass instruments come through to just the right degree needed to be effective without distracting. The climaxes are similarly spectacular, with tension in the music building until the point of explosion.

The Third Symphony is one of my Mahler favourites, composed on an epic scale between 1893 and 1896. Serving as a tribute to nature, this is a monumental work in six movements. The first movement, with a duration of almost 35 minutes, forms the first part of the symphony, while the remaining five movements make up the second part. The opening movement has a programmatic outline of Pan waking up and calling summer in. With its spectacular closing bars, this movement is almost a complete work in itself, full of diversity of sound and character.

The mood changes completely for the opening of the second movement, with a charmingly simple minuet featuring a well-played oboe solo. Mahler’s ability to move from the large-scale to an intimate chamber music atmosphere is always something that has impressed me, and here the rich string sound is coloured by solo woodwind in a beautifully gentle dance. As is typical of this composer, the mood is interrupted and a new icier dance takes over, with rushing semiquavers and sudden changes of tempo. The earlier material returns as if it was always there in the background, an impressively judged juxtaposition which is performed here with apparent ease. Mehta uses a wonderfully elastic rubato in some sections, giving a sense of organic flow.

The bright opening of the third movement is immediately coloured by the minor key harmonies. There is a sense of foreboding here, and perhaps also an element of mysticism. This music was originally subtitled ‘what the animals in the forest tell me,’ and the upper strings provide shimmering light over the well-executed woodwind solo lines. A beautifully played trumpet solo is one of the highlights of the movement [tr. 11]. There is a sense with this performance that the conductor and orchestra are at one, taking the listener on a journey. Mahler’s music is thrilling, exhilarating and also somewhat comforting, working on many levels and in different ways. Mehta and the Orchestra present this in the best possible way, engaging the listener at all times and being thoroughly convincing in their musical message.

The vocal entry and sumptuous harmonies of the fourth movement make it a particularly stunning focal point in the symphony’s journey. There is a distinct stillness and sadness in ‘what man tells me’, with Marjana Lipovsek’s magnificent voice floating over the orchestra as she sings Nietzsche’s text of pain, heartache and death, while the oboe calls from eternity. This is a moment of contemplation within the symphony’s fast-moving flow of emotion and its effect is profound. This performance is expertly judged, with Mehta’s tempo creating its own sense of tension and space, stopping time momentarily.

The fifth movement takes its text from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. It has an innocent and joyful character at the opening, as the choir sing of angels and joy. Typical of Mahler, though, the mood quickly darkens and a sense of turbulence takes over. The orchestral sound changes dramatically according to the mood, becoming heavier and lighter as necessary, and balancing the choir perfectly. This really is first class playing from all involved.

The final movement provides another sudden contrast, reaching from the Angels to Love, Mahler’s ultimate goal. The string melody here is one of my top five moments in the orchestral repertoire, and this rendition had a profound emotional effect. Mehta manages to create an emotionally expressive sound which does not wallow and is not over-played. The overall effect is one of naturalness, of unforced yearning. For me, this movement, and the way it is played here, is probably as close to musical perfection as it comes. The climactic moments are dramatic and one has the sense of the orchestra giving its all. The quiet material which follows has a wonderful sense of exhaustion, as if coming to the end of a journey. These moments are perfectly judged and force the listener to share in the emotional effects. The triumphant ending is one of the most dramatic and exciting I have heard, with the wonderful energy of this live performance captured for posterity.

It never ceases to amaze me that the hour and a half duration of this symphony goes by remarkably quickly, and upon every hearing I always have the sense of being made aware of some profound message which makes me somehow different from how I was before hearing the symphony. Mahler’s music deals with extremes of emotion from joy to harrowing pain, and the experience of listening can be both cathartic and awe-inspiring. Live performances of this symphony are relatively rare, but with recordings of this quality I would highly recommend setting aside the time every now and again to listen through from beginning to end. This particular recording has the intensity of a live performance, with world class playing and a considered interpretation in which the individual personalities involved in the performance dissolve into the greater whole of Mahler’s inspiring music. Completely unmissable.

Carla Rees 

Tony Haywood's comparative survey of Mahler 3 recordings


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I

June 2022

Beethoven Sonatas 29, 32

Orchestral Works

String Quartets Vol 1





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


      Composer surveys
      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

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


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

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



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

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
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
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
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.