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  • Mahler: Symphony No. 6
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Mahler: Symphony No. 6 Hybrid SACD - DSD

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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD - DSD, March 28, 2002
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony
  • Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas
  • Composer: Gustav Mahler
  • Audio CD (March 28, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: San Francisco Symphony
  • ASIN: B000060OQ5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #719,429 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Bob Zeidler on June 5, 2002
Format: Audio CD
In little more than a year, I have now heard four remarkable recordings of Gustav Mahler's Sixth Symphony, each special in its own way and each vying for shelf space next to the version which had long been my favorite, Leonard Bernstein's second recording, with the Vienna Philharmonic, on DGG.

Two of the first three (Benjamin Zander with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and Thomas Sanderling with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra) got the benefit of some commentary of mine elsewhere at Amazon. The third (Michael Gielen with the SWR Orchestra of Baden-Baden/Freiburg) had been in the queue for similar commentary treatment. And then this Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco Symphony Orchestra live performance arrived, putting detailed commentary on the Gielen recording on at least temporary hold.

Tilson Thomas (MTT, for short) has gauged this symphony largely along lines most similar to those of Zander in the outer two movements and Bernstein/Vienna ("Bernstein II") in the inner movements, as a "tale of the tape" (comparative movement timings) shows. Each of these three performances has many strengths and few weaknesses. While I personally think that Zander accomplishes the near-impossible in his shattering realization of the final movement, MTT is very close indeed (and provides two hammer blows vs. three, for those "who are counting"). All three are rather evenly matched in the opening movement, but I give a slight edge to MTT by virtue of the atmospheric effects he is able to achieve with the brief "respite" provided by the celeste and cow bells late in the movement; beautifully done. There is little to choose between Bernstein II and MTT in the second-movement Scherzo; they are within a few seconds of each other and "of a piece.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By gtra1n VINE VOICE on August 27, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This is a great recording of this great work, a unique and special one, and not for everyone. This live performance cannot be separated from the context of events - this CD was culled from concerts of September 12-15, 2001, and to the SF Symphony's credit, they never hesitated from presenting a powerful and tragic work that Tilson Thomas' own notes admits does not offer easy answers.
There is an unmistakable quality of grimness in these performances, which adds immensely to Mahler's expression, and this is the thing that may be off-putting. The orchestra plays superbly, with tremendous intensity, and Tilson Thomas is a real master of this piece. His sense of tempo is unerring, and even in the heat of the moment he never pushes too hard, and saves the milking of the moment for particular, well-judged points, such as the elision in the first movement between the end of the Alma theme and the return of the opening march. The scherzo is positively frightening, demonic and wicked in spirit. The particular flavor of the performance really comes through in Mahler's extraordinary slow movement. In other hands, Barbirolli's in particular, this expresses a passionate feeling of lost love, but in this time and place, and with this conductor, the music becomes a great cry of despair, a struggle to keep human feelings alive. It's unbelievably powerful and can be difficult to listen to. Finally, the last movement does show the orchestra tiring somewhat, but this is not a flaw, rather fitting in the performance. The hammer blows are delivered to an enormous wooden box perched above the back of the orchestra, and are crippling in the proper sense, although the visual power of seeing the box struck so is obviously lost on the CD. The last pizzicato is bone-chilling.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Alex Bedner on August 29, 2002
Format: Audio CD
It is in my personal opinion that this is the best Mahler 6 recording I have ever listened to simply because the orchestra under the direction of MTT responds to details that in other recordings other orchestras did not. They have grown to be so together since MTT came to the orchestra in 1995. The brass playing in this recording is also among the best. The blend of the different sections of brass instruments is so perfect for Mahler's work. As a trombone player I found the trombone work in Mahler's 6th to be the best section playing I have heard yet. Mark Lawrence, Paul Welcomer, and John Englkis (I can't rmemeber the 3rd trombone player's name), really enunciate their playing styles in just the right ways that really make you feel the music. The trombones are, in Mahler 6, the "gods of fate" and with their quality of playing they put "the fear of god" into you. The trombone funeral choral at the end of this symphony is hands down THE BEST out of any Mahler 6th recording. Mark's sonorous sound and Paul's mournful touch on the eight note pickups really puts the soul at rest and into your tomb. This is a must have for any brass player.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rodney Hrvatin on August 23, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Mahler's 6th symphony is either the highpoint(ask Bernstein, Solti or Karajan) or the lowpoint (ask Abbado, Rattle and Chailly) of a Mahler cycle. It is an intensly difficult work, and any conductor brave enough to challenge it does so at their peril. Of course, these days, conductors record this symphony with the same reckless abandon as Beethoven symphonies were recorded 20-30 years ago. Most of them are decent recordings, but few actually capture the essence of this tragic work.
I, for one, have always held Karajan's recording of this symphony in the highest regard and all recordings, or performances, that come my way have to face up to it.
MTT comes to this symphony having recorded, arguably, two of the finest recordings of Mahler symphonies around (the 3rd and 7th). His mentor, being Leonard Bernstein, has obviously tuned this man into Mahler in such a way that he captures the right vibe of the piece from go to 0. From the opening macbre march through to gut-busting finale this is a ride of unforgettable depth.
I am not in agreeance with the previous reviewer who stated this performance suffers in the quiet moments, on the contrary, I think it is where the biggest strength lies. One listen to movement 3 will confirm that.
The San Fransisco orchestra does a superb job and the recorded sound is excellent (despite not having the whizzbang gadgets Sony say are essential for listening to this). The liner notes are great for newcomers to the work, although more knowledgable folk will learn nothing new from them.
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