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

21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 28, 1997
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Editorial Reviews


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  • Sample this album Title (Sample)
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Disc 2
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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
  • ASIN: B0000029XX
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,098 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Bernstein so closely identified himself with the Mahelr Second that he made three recordings. For a long time two have stood out: the first, from 1963, with the New York Phil. (Sony) and the last, from 1988, from a live concert, also in New York (DG). Sony owns another live concert from 1974 with the London Sym. and the unmatched Janet Baker as soloist in "Urlicht," but it has boomy cathedral sound and is hard to find. Comparing the two major recordings brings out interesting contrasts.

Sony 1963: Bernstein was 45 and freshly arrived at Mahelr when he made this recording. The phrasing in every movemeent has a spontaneous freshness that few have ever duplicated, including Bernstien himself. Nothing is played for rhetorical effect. Tempos are moderate; the orchestra plays beautifully and is captured in spacious sonics at Manhattan Center. The two vocal soloists, mezzo Jennie Tourel and soprano Lee Verona, were Bernstein favorites, but neither is ideal. Tourel sounds mature and doesn't blend well with Verona in the finale; her Urlicht is sincere and moving, however. The professional chorus is excellent but recorded too far back for us to make out the words or for maximum impact.

DG 1988: Twenty-five years later, when Bernstein was 70, he retained the basic shape of his earlier interpretation but slowed it down, by almost 4 min. in the finale, which is quite broad now. Spontaneity has been exchanged for a deeper, more settled view but also some rhetoric. The sound is multi-miked, often close up, and with not as much air around it as for Sony. Also, there is more underlining for emphasis, but not to an extreme. I think the finale suffers from Bernstein's earnestness to make sure it sounds cosmic--yet the stupendous coda does indeed sound cosmic.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 4, 2000
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By pm444 on August 10, 1999
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By johannes.nebel@framfab.se on March 28, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Let's get this straight: this is one of the greatest CD's ever released. Yes, I'm a fan of Mahler and of Bernstein. If I were not, I'd still have to recommend this album for many reasons; the sound, interpretation and thus, the heart. This top-notch remastered double CD is a truly legendary recording of the 2nd from 1963. It succeedes to supply and enhance a very analogue feeling and is by far the most gripping and intense M2 I have ever heard! The only drawback would be the Andante, which is on the slower side of "slow". Still, more than anything, the heart, the heart, the heart of Mahler (or if you will, Bernstein?) is presented to the listener. I can only speak for myself, but this recording and reading has certainly changed my life - touching, moving and enormous.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By MasterG on July 19, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Bernstein's remake of this piece in the 80's was great, and in general his second cycle of Mahler symphonies is better than the first, but not in this case. This studio recording has more energy and drive than most live recordings I have heard. Instead of an analytical interpretation (Litton/Dallas), a showy interpretation (Solti/Chicago), or a scholarly interpretation (Kaplan/London), Bernstein goes for the very heart of the piece and lets it speak free of the constraints placed on it by most other conductors. The result is a performance of remarkable depth, intensity, musicality, and consistency. The playing could be a little more in tune in some places, but this does not really matter. Get yourself a copy of this recording as soon as possible!
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