Gustav Mahler – 10 Symphonien – Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Rafael Kubelik (2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Gustav Mahler – 10 Symphonien – Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Rafael Kubelik (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz  | Time – 11:04:15 minutes | 12,2 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | © Deutsche Grammophon
Recorded: 1967-1971, Residenz, Herkulessaal, Munich, Germany & Deutsches Museum, Kongress-Saal, Munich, Germany (Symphony No.8)

Rafael Kubelik’s highly chromatic, poetic Mahler recordings have been staples in Deutsche Grammophon’s catalogue since their inception. Tempos overall tend to be quicker than the norm (Symphony No. 8 for instance fits conveniently on one CD), yet never at the expense of glossing over the composers renowned wealth of inner details. Many Mahler aficionados still regard Kubelik’s readings here of the Symphonies No. 1 and No. 7 as reference recordings. Distinguished soloists include Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Edith Mathis, Norma Proctor, Franz Crass, and Julia Hamari. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra as well as the various outstanding choirs employed throughout the cycle couldn’t be more in sync with Kubelik’s inspired visionary interpretations.

„In many ways, Rafael Kubelik reminds me of Eduard van Beinum. For instance, both conductors revelled in Gustav Mahler’s distinct idiom and both (guest) conducted the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. But most importantly, they operated among their musicians instead of above them, had a natural aversion to a so-called superstar conductor status and served music first and foremost. Those qualities pop up constantly in these beloved, often lyrical and never overwrought interpretations that have held up remarkably well in the Mahler sweepstakes. The fact that these performances have been available for such a long time is an indication of their popularity, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra play with total conviction. Certainly the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Seventh and the Adagio from the unfinished Tenth in this survey match the very finest available. If you never had the chance to sample the Czech’s interpretations of his countryman, the DG Collector’s Edition is, luckily, still available.
Rafael Kubelik always had a wonderful way with the Wunderhorn period. The First Symphony in particular flows like a breath of fresh air, it’s alliance with nature and young love perfectly drawn out. Kubelik’s first movement has a remarkable urgency, his funeral march is aptly Jewish. Only in the long finale, where we have become used to a cataclysm of contrasting themes, Kubelik may be surpassed (not least by the Bernstein performance from Amsterdam), but it’s still a strong feat of endurance. I have never quite shared the complaint that the strings are badly recorded, but if you like a more supple sound picture, you can turn to the conductor’s live Audite recording which shares many of the virtues of Kubelik’s studio account.
The Resurrection Symphony harks back to Klemperer’s sober outing, but even so, I have seldom heard a more convincing account of the last movement, the Bavarian brass pulling out all stops, the music urgent and truly apocalyptic. In the Third symphony, the titanic first movement does not quite have the swagger of Leonard Bernstein’s legendary 1961 New York account, but the orchestra plays tremendously well, not afraid to make an ugly sound when needed. Kubelik’s generally swift and utterly lyrical Mahler Fourth still stands as a benchmark recording and is required listening for everyone who loves the piece. Comparisons with Beinum’s mono Decca aplenty, this Fourth knows when to relax, when to dream and when to growl. The slow movement (in one of the fastest timings ever recorded) is especially effective (as opposed to Tilson Thomas’s dragging 25 minutes), it’s unforced naturalness harking back to Bruno Walter, and, again Van Beinum. Elsie Morison, the conductor’s wife, may not be everyone’s cup of tea in the finale, but what she lacks in childlike purity is largely compensated by the warmth and affirmation of her delivery. Simply indispensable.
With the Middle period, we are drawn into Mahler’s complex world from a new perspective, Mahler’s ‘Sturm und Drang’ phase, if you will. I deem Kubelik’s efforts in this phase more controversial and not an overall success. Starting with the Fifth, which is relatively brisk and unsentimental, Kubelik is let down by his engineers, which is all the more surprising as this recording was the last one made. It’s not a bad performance, not by any means, but there are better Fifths out there that manage to linger on the mind for a longer length of time. Kubelik’s Sixth, in much better sound, with its breakneck pace for the first movement – which many may find a problem – is a blistering account. The Scherzo, placed second (happily!), is as demonic as one could wish for; the Andante flowing naturally and intensely nostalgic. The long finale, harrowing in the best of hands (and Kubelik’s is certainly not an exception), is again on the brisk side but never glossing over details. The closing pages define the word ‘desperation’. Even though I like the Sixth with a more measured pace, I can’t and won’t deny Rafael Kubelik’s greatness in this music.
The Seventh symphony, recorded near the end of Kubelik’s survey, was a distinct specialty of the conductor. I have heard and enjoyed three recordings under Kubelik, the first being this studio recording, the second a ‘live’ reading with the same orchestra on Audite, and a hard to find live New York recording which was lastly available in an expensive New York Mahler box. Some may find Kubelik too impatient in the first movement, especially since the opening measures are marked Langsam. I actually prefer the Czech’s straightforward way since Kubelik never loses sight of the long line. His first Nachtmusik sounds much more like a real march in the dark, his Schattenhaft is unusually intense. No one makes the Finale sound more convincing than Leonard Bernstein in his 1965 benchmark recording, but Kubelik’s reading is positively festive, with trumpets sounding especially piercing, marvellously cheeky woodwinds and a final peroration with bells featured prominently. This is one of the great Sevenths and every aficionado of the piece should own it.
I have never quite jumped on the bandwagon for Kubelik’s studio Eighth, fine as though it is. I was more moved by his Audite remake which featured a far more convincing interpretation and a more spacious recording. The Ninth, the very first symphony to be recorded in this survey, offers a robust sound picture. There are more wrenching accounts of this often recorded symphony available, and I never really got the feeling that Kubelik was in his element. The Rondo could do with a touch more abandon and I find his handling of the theoretically shimmering Adagio too fast, no matter how eloquently the Bavarian strings play. Kubelik was a great exponent of Twentieth Century music, and it is therefore that his account of the Adagio from the unfinished Tenth symphony is one of the very finest available. From the desolate opening measures and the frantic outburst to the consoling ending, this is as I feel, together with Bernstein’s from New York from 1975, the performance that is most convincing and the one I keep on coming back to the most. Leave it to Kubelik to end his Mahler cycle on a completely positive note!
Rafael Kubelik’s natural and unforced Mahler cycle has stood the test of time almost as well as Leonard Bernstein’s. From the wonderful readings from the Wunderhorn period to the sublime Adagio from the Tenth, there isn’t a moment of dull music making in this set, and several of the individual interpretations deserve the very highest praise. Even the sound, though showing its age, is clear, up front with considerable impact, offering a wealth of detail some other surveys simply pass by. This is also one of the most economic cycles, as the performances, with the exception of the Third symphony, fit conveniently on 10 well filled discs. The playing of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is committed and heartfelt throughout, putting most premier orchestras to shame. It would be unthinkable to do without this cycle!“ –Marcel Kersten

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
Symphony No.1 in D
1. 1. Langsam. Schleppend 14:36
2. 2. Kräftig bewegt 7:02
3. . Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen 10:36
4. 4. Stürmisch bewegt 17:38
Symphony No.2 In C Minor
5. 1. Allegro maestoso. Mit durchaus ernstem und feierlichem Ausdruck 19:53
6. 2. Andante moderato. Sehr gemächlich 10:34
7. 3. Scherzo: In ruhig fliessender Bewegung 10:11
8. 4. “Urlicht”. Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht “O Röschen rot!” 4:55
9. 5a. Im Tempo des Scherzos. Wild herausfahrend – 17:35
10. 5d. “Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n wirst du” (Langsam. Misterioso) 13:28
Symphony No.3 In D Minor
11. 1. Kräftig. Entscheiden 31:23
12. 2. Tempo di minuetto. Sehr mäßig 9:45
13. 3. Comodo. Scherzando. Ohne Hast 17:05
14. 4. Sehr langsam. Misterioso: “O Mensch! Gib acht!” ‘O Mensch! Gib acht’ 9:21
15. 5. Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck: “Bimm Bamm. Es sungen drei Engel” 4:12
16. 6. Langsam. Ruhevoll. Empfunden 22:00
Symphony No.4 in G
17. 1. Bedächtig. Nicht eilen – Recht gemächlich 15:52
18. 2. In gemächlicher Bewegung. Ohne Hast 9:10
19. 3. Ruhevoll (Poco adagio) 18:47
20. 4. Sehr behaglich: “Wir genießen die himmlischen Freuden” 8:01
Symphony No.5 In C Sharp Minor
21. 1. Trauermarsch: In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt 11:42
22. 2. Stürmisch bewegt. Mit größter Vehemenz – Bedeutend langsamer – Tempo I subito 14:09
23. 3. Scherzo (Kräftig, nicht zu schnell) 17:37
24. 4. Adagietto (Sehr langsam) 9:43
25. 5. Rondo-Finale (Allegro) 15:26
Symphony No.6 in A minor
26. 1. Allegro energico, ma non troppo. Heftig aber Markig 21:10
27. 2. Scherzo (Wuchtig) 11:45
28. 3. Andante moderato 14:44
29. 4. Finale (Allegro moderato) 26:37
Symphony No.7 In E Minor
30. 1. Langsam – Allegro 19:56
31. 2. Nachtmusik (Allegro moderato) 14:55
32. 3. Scherzo 9:28
33. 4. Nachtmusik (Andante amoroso) 12:18
34. 5. Rondo – Finale (Allegro ordinario – Allegro moderato ma energico) 16:40
Symphony No.8 In E Flat
35. “Veni creator spiritus” 22:11
36. Poco adagio: Waldung, sie schwankt heran 27:52
37. “Dir, der Unberührbaren” 24:24
Symphony No.9 in D
38. 1. Andante comodo 26:02
39. 2. Im Tempo eines gemächlichen Ländler. Etwas täppisch und sehr derb 16:04
40. 3. Rondo. Burleske (Allegro assai. Sehr trotzig – Presto) 13:23
41. 4. Adagio (Sehr langsam) 21:47
Symphony No.10 In F Sharp (Unfinished)
42. Andante – Adagio 23:57

Donald Grobe, Tenor
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Baritone
Franz Crass, Bass
Elsie Morison, Soprano
Martina Arroyo, Soprano
Edith Mathis, Soprano
Erna Spoorenberg, Soprano
Marjorie Thomas, Contralto
Julia Hamari, Contralto
Norma Procter, Contralto
Rudolf Koeckert, Violin
Eberhard Kraus, Organ
Bavarian Radio Chorus
Der Tölzer Knabenchor
Chor des Norddeutschen Rundfunks
Boys of the Regenburger Domchorus
Female Chorus of the Munich Motettenchorus
Josef Schmidhuber, Chorus Master
Gerhard Schmidt, Chorus Master
Wolfgang Schubert, Chorus Master
Helmut Franz, Chorus Master
Herbert Schernus, Chorus Master
Christoph Lickleder, Chorus Master
Hans Rudolf Zöbeley, Chorus Master
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Otto Freudenthal, Assistant Conductor
Rafael Kubelik, Conductor


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