Gustav Mahler -- Who Likes Him?

Jason Quintana's picture
Submitted by Jason Quintana on Mon, 2006-02-13 00:58

My favorite composer (along with Brahms) is Mahler. Mahler took the symphonic medium to its limits and wrote some of the most glorious music of all time. Have the final passages of any piece of music ever matched the final minutes of Mahler's Symphony #2?

So if you do like Mahler, what is your favorite piece by him, and why?

- Jason

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Kaplan's new recording

Jason Quintana's picture

Have you had the opportunity to hear Kaplan's latest recording of the 2nd with the Vienna Philharmonic? I recall hearing in Mahler circles on the internet that it is even better then the earlier version. Though there are several who remain attached to the old recording. I haven't had a chance to hear either.

The recordings of Mahler Symphonies, more then those of any other composer seem to create strong attachments among listeners to specific versions. I have seen online scuffles that would make the fights we've seen on SOLO seem tame between people arguing about the merit of this or that recording (conductor, orchestra etc) of a Mahler Symphony.

- Jason

I have a special affinity

eprime75's picture

I have a special affinity for the Mahler 2'nd Symphony,"Resurrection". I find it quite inspiring, despite its religious motiff, for beginning with death and despair and ending with soaring triumph. But Mahler's work also has some personal significance to me, especially the version by Glibert Kaplan and the London Symphony Orchestra.

It seemed that at the time my wife, my son, and I were planning to take our annual trip to Florida to visit her parents and to celebrate our anniversary. However, due to certain circumstances, we could not travel together, and I would be joining them two days later.

So, to while away the time, I purchased the above mentioned recording in the then new format known as the CD. I knew that despite the absence of Sandy, my time would be occupied with my new recording. Not only could I enjoy 80 minutes of music, but the work was divided into about 22 tracks so that I could study and learn all the different musical themes of the symphony. And not only that! There were also 2 booklets about Mahler and the "Resurrection" Symphony inside the CD Case.

Incidently, the conductor of the work, Gilbert Kaplan, is not a professional conductor like Bernstein, Solti, or Toscannini. He is a publisher by profession who holds this work as one of his highest values. In fact, according to the booklets, this symphony is the only work he will conduct.

Kaplan has spent a great portion of his life studying the life of Mahler and his second symphony. In this respect, because of his relentless pursuit of a value that is most dear to him, I can claim Mr. Kaplan as an Objectivist hero.

Finally, this recording has special significance to me because the night before Sandra left for Florida, we had one of the most beautiful lovemaking sessions so far in our marriage. Playing that symphony is a reminder of that wonderful night of (here it comes as if you didn't know) "total passion for the total height". Paul.

My writing partner

Casey's picture

and I when we were kids played the French Horn and he turned me on to Mahler's Titan. One of his favorites to play was Mahler's Titan, with the climactic fanfare of French Horns that is one of the most triumphant in all of musical history. Mahler loved the French Horn.

Lots of great horn parts in Mahler!

Jason Quintana's picture

You can try the 5th Symphony. There is a famous horn part in the 3rd movement. Mahler actually wrote intructions into the score for the horn player to come up in front of the orchestra next to the conductor during the movement. This has generally not been done over the years, but recently it seems to have made its way back into performance tradition.

For recordings there are :

Bernstein/Vienna Philharmonic (Deutche Grammophone)
Barbirolli/Royal Philharmonic (EMI)
Barshai/Junge Deutche Philharmonie (Excellent, rare and has been sold on various labels. The orchestra is made up of German highschool students.)

I probably have 10 more recordings of this but these are my favorites and the first two should be available everywhere.

- Jason

I love what little of Mahler I have had the pleasure of

I love what little of Mahler I have had the pleasure of listening to. I have Symphony No. 2 so perhaps I should expand my colletion on my next trip to Barnes and Nobel. Any particular recordings I should look for? Any great French Horn parts I should seek out?

I love Mahler...

Casey's picture

And I know a lot of people hate Mahler, but then most things I love some people hate. Eye

I love Mahler...

Casey's picture

When I was a kid, I would listen to the Titan (his Symphony #1 to those who aren't familiar with Mahler) over and over again while I was writing my first book. I listened to it all through reading Atlas Shrugged, too, and I always associate it with Galt's Gulch now.

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