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Symphony No. 7 in E Minor

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Audio CD, May 14, 2002
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Vienna State Opera Orchestra
  • Conductor: Hermann Scherchen
  • Composer: Gustav Mahler
  • Audio CD (May 14, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000063DS9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,124 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By T. Beers on June 28, 2002
Format: Audio CD
A true Mahler pioneer, Hermann Scherchen brought to his Mahler performances an element of expressionist intensity that reflects the conductor's long association with Schoenberg and the other members of the Second Vienna School. Scherchen's somewhat eccentric - but still idiomatic - Mahler recordings (originally produced by Westminster in the early 1950s) are now being reissued in state-of-the-art 24Bit/96khz CD remasterings by Deutsche Grammophon. Although various "live" Scherchen performances of the Seventh Symphony have circulated on CD (Vienna Symphony/Orfeo(1950) Mahler: Symphony 7; Toronto Symphony/Music & Arts(1960, apparently nla), this 1954 studio recording has the best sound. In fact, as remastered by DG, this 60+ year old recording still sounds marvelous, with instrumental details and orchestral mass all projected with superb naturalism. A potent reminder of how excellent mono recordings became by the mid 1950s, the whole production is quite an accomplishment considering how little-played Mahler was back then.

But don't get me wrong: this CD has much more going for it than historical or curiosity value. Mahler's most problematic symphony (many would add "forward-looking" and "provocative") positively springs to life under Scherchen's direction. Where other conductors have stumbled trying to force the kaleidoscopic collage form of the Seventh Symphony into a classical straightjacket, Scherchen takes the symphony on its own terms, plays it to the hilt, and brilliantly validates Mahler's quirky structural vision. Even the pompous triumphalism of the last movement makes sense; with most other conductors this same finale seems an embarassingly trivial misfire.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Lipscomb on June 9, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This Mahler 7th with Scherchen was my first-ever recording of the work. It was originally on one of those out-sized 2-LP editions from Westminster that could easily be mistaken for a 78 rpm set. It had cover art that featured an orange sun setting against a star-filled blue sky - ah, those were the days!
This was the finest Mahler 7th of the mono LP era. There was little competition - certainly the live Rosbaud on Urania LP was non-competitive (the orchestra rarely even stayed together). Then Bernstein came along with the NY Philharmonic in stereo. I am not much of a Bernstein fan, but I think this was one of his very finest recordings - and his best Mahler.
In the CD era we have had an explosion of Mahler 7ths. Rosbaud's later 7th (on a deleted Wergo CD) was superb - easily a match for Bernstein, whose later recording lacked the freshness of his first one. Horenstein is intriguing here - as always with his Mahler. It is an absorbing account, although the playing is a bit subpar and the sound is rather poor (it's best heard on a Descant CD).
Two additional Scherchen Mahler 7ths have surfaced on CDs: a live 1950 account with the Vienna Symphony (Orfeo 279921), and a 1965 public performance with the Toronto Symphony on Music & Arts 695. All three of Scherchen's Mahler 7ths are quite gripping, and I plan to keep them all. However, it must be said that Scherchen in live concert takes more chances (not all of them successful), and he tends to be even more electrifying than he was in the studio recording offered here. The Toronto account, in particular, has an almost nightmarish, manic quality that fits this work to a "T."
If you are looking for only one Scherchen account of this strange and wonderful symphony, I would suggest hearing the Toronto. However, Scherchen's Mahler is so multifaceted in all three recordings that I wouldn't want to be without any of them. They make most contemporary accounts look colorless by comparison.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By jerry i h on December 24, 2007
Format: Audio CD
There are any number of commercial offerings of the 7th from well-respected conductors. Sadly, few are worthy of serious attention [I attended a performance of this 7th by Thomas and the SF Symphony that was being taped for his cycle on CD; being in the cheapskate terrace seats, I spied someone who had a complete orchestral score in his hands, leaving at the end of the concert. I asked him about the brisk tempi, and he confirmed this opinion. This performance did nothing to expand my understanding of this peculiar symphony]. This, I am happy to report, is one of the few that you should pay attention to.

The attitude of the conductor is steel and concrete, almost parochial. The tempos were also the slowest of all the recordings I have. Yet, his sparse outlook allows Mahler's voice to come through. His schematic tour through the music allows you to get to know the music without the usual ginza flash. If you are more interested in Mahler's vision than orchestral fireworks, this is the disk for you.

Highly recommended. The 7th is a rather odd fish, even for Mahler. The 7th is for Mahler aficionados only.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By NoNamePlease on July 4, 2010
Format: Audio CD
This is a great performance, but get Scherchen 1965 Toronto concert--very special performance indeed!
Amazon # B000006KF3
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hiram Gomez Pardo HALL OF FAME on October 5, 2004
Format: Audio CD
By the time this memorable version was made (the early fifties) the musical catalogue left us not many choices. Scherchen championed (like Bruno Walter Horenstein, Dmitri Mitropoulos, Hans Rosbaud, Oskar Fried and Charles Adler) many auditions trying to show the world the virtues of this musical genius, one of the last exponents of the symphonic genre. But what it really makes the difference between Scherchen and the rest of his colleagues, is his indomitable intention of presenting us the Mahler with new dresses, it's to say not evoking the shadows of the past but leading us to the new horizons of his music and establishing cleverly visible analogies with this century. That's why his Mahler looks so elusive, incorporeal with hovered by an astringent lyricism and evident roughness in many passages. To my mind, no other conductor interprets Mahler keeping in mind Webern, Schoenberg so narrowly linked.

The ambiance depicted may seem too blurry and elusive for many listeners, but it would be unfair to leave aside Mitropoulos vision who retains a certain resemblance. That's for me the key of his original approach.

This version still remains as one the top choices ever recorded due its undeniable historical transcendence.

Don't miss this golden recording.
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