Mahler: Symphony No 1 / Klaus Tennstedt, Chicago Sym Orch
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Tennstedt was never happy with his earlier EMI account (10/78—nla): too soft-centred, too civilized, he thought it—and with good reason. Here, then, is the rebirth... I do miss certain elements: innocence, charm, refinement. Compare Tennstedt's dawn chorus with that of the recent Abbado recording (DG): not for Tennstedt the rarified early morning haze, the breathless piano-pianissimo, the elfin fanfares. His reading is more of this world, sinister, unsettling, the fanfares more threatening, more immediate... [T]he eerie development of the first movement (ominous cello glissandos) chills to the marrow, the entry of tuba and bass drum might be Fafner emerging from the forest...
Tennstedt's inner movements are splendid—the
characterization bang on target. His Scherzo is brawny and coarse cut, catching the trio's rustic charm without overplaying the gaucheness; his 'huntsman's funeral' progresses from morbid, dead-pan double-bass to a marvellous realization of the corny zigeuner cafe music: the reprise here (from 8'13") is just perfect with its cheap widevibrato trumpets and squally clarinets. The lovely second theme is, by contrast, deeply reassuring. Again Tennstedt does not prettify it: this is agreeably homespun, 'modest', as Mahler would have it.
One would expect Tennstedt to raise the roof with the finale—and he does, wholly in his element among the big heroic gestures... [A]s the triumphal theme approaches, Tennstedt brings on his artillery with a vengeance and doesn't look back. Mahler does, of course, and those nostalgic pages, the hope of many new dawns to come, are as beautiful and as heart-rending as ever. The final triumph is sensational, Chicago trumpets going off like rockets, their trombones in thrilling support of the cohorts of horns. Naturally, the audience go wild. For me, though, the best of all worlds, a cross between Tennstedt and Abbado, still spells Bernstein. You may disagree, in which case you must weigh up magic and finesse (Abbado) against visceral excitement (Tennstedt). Which ever way you turn, satisfaction is assured.
-- Gramophone [11/1991]
Works on This Recording
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A Smash! January 25, 2013
By Kenny Roberts (Flint, MI) See All My Reviews
"I played this one afternoon on WFBE-FM, and had a listener call in to say that hearing this performance reaffirmed her love of classical music and the value of public radio. Of course, since then the Flint Board of Education has sold the radio stations frequency to a commercial group, but the nice comments from the good listener has always stuck with me... and of course Tennstedt does raise a ruckus.. gloriously!"