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Bernstein Century - Mahler: Symphonies Nos. 2, 8 (Part One), & 5 (segment)

4.6 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Performer: Lili Chookasian, Adele Addison, Lee Venora, Lucine Amara, Richard Tucker
  • Orchestra: New York Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
  • Composer: Gustav Mahler
  • Audio CD (October 28, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • ASIN: B0000029XX
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,115 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer were two contemporary disciples of Mahler who gave us differing, but authoritative accounts of that composer's Second Symphony. Bruno Walter came close, but Leonard Bernstein takes us further in his first recording of this masterpiece. From the opening fortissimo string tremolo, he gradually leads us deeper into the spiritual world of Mahler, and if we are willing, he is convinced that we will be transcended like we have never been before. Purists may quibble about the liberties Bernstein takes with the score, but they are overruled when there are profound musical statements to be made.

Lenny was right! In this recording, following Mahler's capsulated description about his work, Bernstein was able to convince his musicians that they too, had to be "battered to the ground with clubs and then lifted high to the heavens on angels' wings." I was fortunate to be introduced to Mahler's spiritual world with this recording, and must admit that I had the same experience. Considering the large number of recordings that followed, none since this Bernstein document (even his later Columbia Masterworks and DG recordings) depict Mahler's musical catharsis as does this one. Unfortunately, the 1963 stereo sound now shows its age. I'm thankful that it was recorded in stereo, but sorry that digital technology did not then exist to fully convey the quite-evident shattering power that Bernstein brings forth. Indication where digital recording would have helped is the buildup in the overpowering crescendo drum roll of the huge percussion section in the final movement, seemingly much more powerful than any recording of this since made. However, it sounded great when I first heard it in the late '60's, and the new 24-bit CD transfer helps the dated sound out.
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Format: Audio CD
This is the recording that was my introduction to Mahler's 2nd, so I was very happy to see it reissued on CD. The sound is quite good for a recording from the early 60s, and the final five minutes are completely overwhelming. I remember wearing down the LP grooves (and probably annoying my neighbors) by replaying that section over and over. It still has a stunning effect....the sheer beauty of Mahler's music, the power of the words, and the intensity of the performance all give the listener an unforgettable experience.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Many have conceded that among 20th century conductors it was Leonard Bernstein who became the driving force in effectively meeting the challenge of making a convincing statement of Mahler's symphonic music. Others have cited some of the pioneering and insightful mono and stereo performances of Walter, Mitropoulos and Scherchen. In any event, there has been little doubt that Bernstein has almost always brought great intensity to his Mahler interpretations. But his tendency to sometimes engage in drawn out tempos has been, at times, controversial. This is evident particularly in his opening to Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony. Despite the composer's indication of allegro, Bernstein proceeds with what sounds, at least, like adagio. He later speeds up then slows down again--perhaps, to listeners, a little exasperating. However, others might feel he is setting the mood for the rest of the first movement and even for the entire symphony. Include me in that company. Indeed, what Bernstein does bring to this magnificent work is passion, and there is little doubt in my mind, based on what I have encountered about Mahler, that this is precisely what the composer sought to convey himself through his compositions and his conducting.

Being familiar with a number of other versions of Mahler 2, I found it particularly interesting to compare Bernstein's account with Klemperer's Philharmonia version. Despite his seemingly greater sense of overall structural unity, Klemperer cannot quite match the range and depth of feeling wrought by Bernstein, though I admit there are times when Klemperer's characteristic sobriety helps imbue his interpretation with a more primordial Mahlerian feel. On certain emotional/spiritual grounds however I find Bernstein somewhat more effective.
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By A Customer on December 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I have never been particularly fond of the Walter or Klemperor recordings of this work. They were graceful and beautiful but I've always felt the work required a far greater sense of drama than they could provide. And so I went to my local record library and listened to as many Mahler 2nds as they had. This one gripped from the first measure. I can't imagine a more exciting and larger than life performance. It must have been performances such as this that catapulted Bernstein into the staure he has today. Do not hesitate to invest in this CD, and certainly pick this recording over the horrendous version Bernstein recorded with the LSO (also on Sony).
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Format: Audio CD
This is the best recording of Mahler's second symphony that I have ever heard. Being a trombone player who likes composers that use my instrument to it's fullest, I know Mahler's music very in-depth. Bernstein is such a wonderful musician, pouring himself into every composer that he performs. He is simply amazing. The quality of this recording is superb. The New York Phil sounds great, with a live and full sound. The whole Bernstein Century series is wonderful and full of desirable recordings of all of the standard repertoire. I highly recommend all of the Mahler recordings in this collection especially the third symphony.
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