Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
This fresh and exciting performance of Mahler's First Symphony reveals MTT and his orchestra on largely top form. Unlike the mannered and heavy-handed Sixth from these same forces, this piece adapts well to the conductor's interventionist approach because the moments that invite such treatment (the trio of the scherzo, the "Klezmer" interludes in the funeral march, the lyrical second subject of the finale and its final peroration) stand apart in distinct sections. This means that the application of a bold ritard or some affectionate rubato stands less chance of producing an inhibited-sounding or enervated result, and in fact
Thomas' management of tension throughout the work is exemplary. For instance, note the way he builds the great climax toward the end of the first movement (and its return in the finale), or the fabulous return to the finale's opening music after the generously indulgent second subject.
The playing of the San Francisco Symphony also is first class...
Hearing this performance in SACD multichannel format changes nothing with respect to its considerable interpretive merits, but it's a big improvement technically. Now, in addition to an interpretation full of good ideas and ear-catching detail, we have that definite three-dimensional quality that only surround sound offers with such ease. Along with a real feeling of hall ambience, we also get more natural instrumental perspectives: that obnoxiously prominent solo flute in the funeral march now sticks out much less obtrusively, while balances in general (but particularly between brass and strings) have great definition and naturalness.
I'm still not quite convinced by the excessive use of the rear channels: no real concert hall has reflections as prominent as these coming from behind, but the advantages certainly outweigh (in this instance) any quibbles on that score. Even on a cheap surround system, this recording sounds terrific, and on high-end equipment it's truly resplendent. If you have the option, multichannel format's definitely the way to go here, and this disc makes an excellent case for it. [3/12/2003]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 1 in D major "Titan" by Gustav Mahler
Michael Tilson Thomas
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Date of Recording: 09/2001
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