Recorded live from Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, 4 December 1962 (Mahler) and 13 November 1962 (Strauss).
- MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 5: Adagietto – Recorded from Symphony Hall, Boston, 12 November 1963.
Picture format: NTSC 4:3
Sound format: LPCM Mono
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Menu language: English
Booklet notes: English, French, German
Running time: 78 mins
No. of DVDs: 1
MAHLER Symphony No. 1. R. STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche & Read more • Erich Leinsdorf, cond; Boston SO • ICA ICAD 5051 (DVD: 78:00) Live: Boston 11-12/1962
& MAHLER Symphony No. 5: Adagietto (9:51) Live: Boston 11/1963
It’s becoming increasingly hard to remember a time when concerts such as the ones captured on this DVD were, if not commonplace, at least a regular feature of TV broadcasting (younger readers will have to use their imaginations). Surely everyone knows about Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts, but the pioneering PBS affiliate in Boston, WGBH, made Boston Symphony concerts a regular part of its schedule, beginning in 1957 and culminating in Evening at Symphony, which ran from 1974 to 1979. At the time of their original broadcast, viewing was accomplished on a set with, perhaps, a 12- or 14-inch black-and-white screen and a tiny, tinny speaker through which to hear the lush orchestrations of Mahler and Strauss; at least we can be thankful for the technological advances that allow us to recapture these long-gone times with truer fidelity of picture and sound.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra featured in these concerts was in the first season of Erich Leinsdorf’s (too short) music directorship, a period during which recordings on RCA proliferated and the orchestra was touted as “The Aristocrat of Orchestras” on LP jackets; among the outstanding musicians seen and heard here are concertmaster Joseph Silverstein, oboist Ralph Gomberg, clarinetist Harold Wright, first trumpet Roger Voisin, timpanist Everett “Vic” Firth, harpist Bernard Zighera, and flutist Doriot Anthony Dwyer—not only the sole female principal, but the sole female in the orchestra, a fitting role for a descendent of Susan B. Anthony.
Leinsdorf is an elegant presence on the podium, sober of demeanor but expressive of gesture, baton-less and conducting from memory. Mahler and Strauss were two of his specialties: He programmed Mahler’s First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth symphonies and recorded all but the Fourth; he was perhaps more renowned for his performances of Strauss operas, but the tone poems formed a regular part of his BSO programs. The Mahler First features a stately (if not sprightly) first-movement main theme, and an energetic and lilting second movement; the third movement is notable for the appropriately sour solo bass and the elegant oboe of Ralph Gomberg, and the finale arrives properly attacca and proceeds to an impressive percussion-dominated final climax.
Till is animated, sharply etched, and robust in a reading that captures all of Strauss’s Technicolor effects. The fourth movement from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, for the broadcast labeled simply “Mahler Adagietto,” becomes an intriguing encore. The performance is exemplary, smoothly flowing within a timing of about eight-and-a-half minutes, its emotional impact thus concentrated and potent, very much in keeping with current thinking regarding its interior program.
The camerawork is very basic, mostly section shots and the very occasional full orchestra image, alternating with those of the conductor; there is also on occasion a superimposition of conductor over musicians that adds a nice touch of variety. The sound is surprisingly good mono, bright with decent instrumental definition, and the orchestral playing is, not surprisingly, superb. The venue for the main concerts is Harvard’s Sanders Theater, a more modest hall than Symphony Hall, allowing for a somewhat more intimate sound; perhaps ironically, the Adagietto was recorded at the orchestra’s regular home.
Majestic, Evocative and Transporting MusicDecember 4, 2013By Robert Elden (New York, NY)See All My Reviews"This is an exquisitely performed rendering of this haunting symphony. The orchestra is finely attuned and sensitive to every nuance of Maestro Leinsdorf's baton and the mighty BSO produces a beautiful tour de force. Listening to, and watching, this DVD recalled a very special memory for me. The year this recording was made, 1962, is the same year that I spent a very hot summer Sunday afternoon in the Tanglewood Music Shed listening to this very same orchestra under the very same conductor playing this very same Mahler symphony. I was totally enthralled then and am totally enthralled once again, hearing and viewing this treasured performance. Many thanks to the music gods for having the good sense to preserve this epic work."Report Abuse