Notes and Editorial Reviews
Karel Ancerl's Mahler First offers many subtle pleasures to connoisseurs of the piece, though it may not appeal to listeners looking for maximum power and brilliance. Still, there are wonderful things here that you won't find anywhere else, starting at the very beginning with Ancerl's poetic alternation of muted and unmuted offstage trumpets. Omitting the exposition repeat Ancerl builds the movement with extraordinary skill, reserving the fullest outburst of excitement for the last appearance of the principal theme. The music thus gains energy right up to the final bar. The scherzo's development has some wonderfully rustic sounds from the strings, and the trio offers a positive clinic in subtle manipulation of tempo and characterful
Ancerl's account of the funeral march sports a notable clarity of line, with the inexorably thudding timpani clearly audible below the canonic entries of the "Frère Jacques" theme. The finale gets off to a fast and furious start, with pointed rhythms and lots of characterful accentuation. Still, we're not dealing with the Chicago Symphony here, and the amazing impact of those great brass sections may have conditioned us to a bigger, heavier sound in this music. There's no question, though, that Ancerl knows exactly where he's going, and his tempo manipulations in the final pages sound just the right celebratory note.
The coupling, a mono recording of Till Eulenspiegel, must be cited as one of the most rhythmically secure and clearly articulated accounts ever made of this all-but-impossible piece. With superb, insolent solo winds (listen to the clarinet in the "hanging" scene) and a lively basic tempo, the performance remains a joy. Remastering has improved the sound of both of these recordings, with the Mahler coming across as especially natural. The Strauss reveals an amazing amount of detail given the very reverberant acoustic. Not a first choice in this music, perhaps, but if you know and love it, then this disc will make a fine addition to your collection.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 1 in D major "Titan" by Gustav Mahler
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Date of Recording: 12/1964
Notes: Composition written: Leipzig, Germany (1888).
Composition revised: Germany (1896).
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