WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Mahler: Symphonies / Neumann, Czech Po, Et Al


Release Date: 07/25/2006 
Label:  Supraphon   Catalog #: 3880   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Eva RandováGabriela BenackováChrista LudwigMiroslav Kejmar,   ... 
Conductor:  Václav Neumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic OrchestraPrague Philharmonic ChorusKühn Children's Chorus,   ... 
Number of Discs: 11 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 11 Hours 23 Mins. 

Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Vaclav Neumann's Mahler credentials were impeccable; indeed, had he not been trapped in communist-controlled Europe for much of his career, he might well have been recognized in the West as a figure as important as Bernstein as an advocate of his countryman's symphonies. He produced noteworthy recordings of some of them as many as three times, beginning with the Gewandhaus recordings of symphonies Nos. 5, 6, 7, and 9 in the mid to late 1960s, just when the "Mahler boom" was really getting started in the hands of Bernstein, Solti, Haitink, Kubelik, and Abravanel. Certainly Neumann consistently offered more persuasive recordings of this music than Barbirolli and Horenstein, two conductors who, despite occasional flashes of Read more excellence, receive far more credit than they deserve as Mahler advocates simply because they happened to reside and work in England, the recording center of post-War Europe.

Neumann's interpretations of these works vary markedly over time, and if he had a fault, it was that he sometimes showed a certain stiffness of tempo similar to that which afflicted Horenstein's performances, though it's less frequently encountered. You find it here in the excruciatingly slow and monotonous second Nachtmusik of the Seventh Symphony and in parts of the first movement of the Ninth. Neumann's Gewandhaus recording of the former, and his Canyon Classics remake of the latter, are clearly preferable in these cases. Otherwise, these performances find the Czech Philharmonic in excellent form and well recorded (this reissue has not been remastered to any significant degree, and did not need to be). In any case, this ensemble unquestionably is one of the great Mahler orchestras. Its rhythmic acuity, tangy winds and brass, precise percussion, and transparency of texture seem made for these symphonies, and listening to the playing is a pleasure in and of itself.

As far as individual performances go, there are splendid versions here of Symphonies Nos. 2-4, 6, and 8. Symphony No. 1 is good but a touch faceless, and No. 5 is a fine conception but it uses a strange edition of the score (listen to the timpani at the end and you'll hear the difference immediately). As mentioned previously, No. 7 dies both in the second Nachtmusik and, to a lesser extent, in the finale. And if you want the Czech Philharmonic in No. 9, aside from Neumann's later recording there is the harrowing Ancerl version, also on Supraphon. Symphony No. 2 gets a swift, dramatic performance with a particularly fine first movement. No. 3 is the one work this orchestra plays better than just about anyone, probably due to the huge amount of wind- and brass-dominated textures (but avoid Neumann's Canyon remake, dating form the very end of his life when his control over the orchestra was slipping). It also has the incomparable Christa Ludwig as alto soloist in the fourth and fifth movements.

Symphony No. 4 benefits hugely from the rustic freshness of the orchestral playing and has real (neo)classical poise. Oddly, the hammer blows in No. 6 go "plink" instead of "thud", exactly the opposite of what Mahler intended--but it's still an extremely exciting performance, very well played. You can, if you wish, find the "thuds" on Neumann's Canyon Classics recording, which is also superb. Neumann does a surprisingly good job in Symphony No. 8; it's a relaxed interpretation but very well sung and recorded, with impressively caught climaxes and plenty of ear-catching detail in Part Two. The Adagio from Symphony No. 10, by the way, also is movingly done. So if you're looking for a single complete set of Mahler symphonies, this one doesn't outclass Bertini (EMI) or Gielen (Hänssler), but no self-respecting Mahler collection is complete without Neumann's take on at least some of these works, and there's no denying the overall high standard of achievement here.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in D major "Titan" by Gustav Mahler
Conductor:  Václav Neumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888/1896 
Venue:  Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague 
Length: 51 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Leipzig, Germany (1888).
Composition revised: Germany (1896). 
2.
Symphony no 10 in F sharp minor/major: 1st movement, Adagio by Gustav Mahler
Conductor:  Václav Neumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1910; Austria 
Venue:  Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague 
Length: 22 Minutes 43 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 2 in C minor "Resurrection" by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Eva Randová (Alto), Gabriela Benacková (Soprano)
Conductor:  Václav Neumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888/1896; Germany 
Venue:  Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague 
Length: 75 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Language: German 
4.
Symphony no 3 in D minor by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Christa Ludwig (Alto), Miroslav Kejmar (Flugelhorn)
Conductor:  Václav Neumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus,  Kühn Children's Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893-1896; Hamburg, Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/1981 
Venue:  Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague 
Length: 91 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Language: German 
5.
Symphony no 4 in G major by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Magdaléna Hajóssyová (Soprano)
Conductor:  Václav Neumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1900; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague 
Length: 55 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: German 
6.
Symphony no 5 in C sharp minor by Gustav Mahler
Conductor:  Václav Neumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1902; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague 
Length: 69 Minutes 54 Secs. 
7.
Symphony no 6 in A minor "Tragic" by Gustav Mahler
Conductor:  Václav Neumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904/1906; Austria 
Length: 79 Minutes 0 Secs. 
8.
Symphony no 7 in E minor by Gustav Mahler
Conductor:  Václav Neumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904-1905; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague 
Length: 81 Minutes 11 Secs. 
9.
Symphony no 8 in E flat major "Symphony of A Thousand" by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Wolfgang Schöne (Baritone), Richard Novák (Bass), Libuse Márová (Alto),
Thomas Moser (Tenor), Vera Soukupová (Alto), Gabriela Benacková (Soprano),
Inga Nielsen (Soprano), Daniela Sounová-Brouková (Soprano)
Conductor:  Václav Neumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus,  Kühn Children's Chorus  ... 
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1982 
Venue:  Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague 
Length: 78 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is sung in German and Latin. 
10.
Symphony no 9 in D major by Gustav Mahler
Conductor:  Václav Neumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1908-1909; Austria 
Venue:  Dvorák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague 
Length: 77 Minutes 28 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In