Many thanks to Jean-Luc for another Mahler/Solti masterpiece
The Third Symphony is Mahler’s hymn to the natural world and his longest work. It was largely composed in the summer of 1895 after an exhausting and troubling period that pitched him into feverish creative activity. Bruno Walter visited him at that time and as Mahler met him off the ferry Walter looked up at the spectacular alpine vistas around him only to be told: “No use looking up there, that’s all been composed by me.” Mahler was inspired by the grandeur around him at the very deepest level of feeling and also by visions of Pan and Dionysus. In fact by a sense of every natural creative force in the universe infusing him into “one great hymn to the glory of every aspect of creation”, or, as Deryck Cooke put it: “a concept of existence in its totality.”
Composer: Gustav Mahler
Performer: Helen Watts
Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Sir Georg Solti
Number of Discs: 2
DR-Analysis: DR 13
Size: 3:34 GB
To deliver a convincing performance of the Third I believe the conductor must do two things before anything else. Firstly, in spite of the fact that the work falls into Mahler’s “anthologising” strand, along with Das Klagende Lied, the Second and Eighth Symphonies, the overriding structural imperative linking the six movements must be a pattern of ascending steps based loosely on the evolutionary ladder within broadly-based Pantheistic cosmology. In these terms the six movements are:
1] Inorganic nature summoned into life by Pan, characterised as summer after winter
2] Plant and vegetable life
3] Animal life
4] Human life represented as spiritual darkness
5] Heavenly life represented as childish innocence which, when combined with 5, brings
6] God expressed as, and through, Love.
Mahler’s original titles for these movements were:
1] “Summer Marches in”
2] “What the Meadow Flowers tell me
3] “What the Creatures of the Forest Tell Me”
4] “What Night Tells Me”
5] “What the Morning Bells Tell Me”
6] “What God Tells Me”
The conductor who fails to see this “ladder of ascent” and make it manifest is one who makes the mistake of concentrating too hard on getting the first and last movements right and neglects the movements in between, treating them as interludes rather than steps on the journey to perfection fashioned out of the world around and beyond. The first movement must also retain a degree of independence since Mahler designates it Part I with the remaining movements Part II. This leads to the second thing I believe the conductor must do and that is render the seemingly disparate elements of the first movement into a rigorously-wrought whole when the nature of its thirty-five minutes sets it on course for structural failure. There must be no doubt on the part of the conductor as to the movement’s greatness and this includes an awareness of, and an ability to bring out, the rougher edges woven into it. Any attempt to “prettify” or “smooth out” the first movement leads ultimately to a blunting of its special power and so to failure. It’s a hard thing to quantify but it’s something you know is there at a deep level at certain “way points” and in the way you can give in to its atmosphere, hallucinatory qualities and lack of doubt in itself. I think it’s also true that a conductor’s confidence in the rightness of Mahler’s vision in the first movement stands him in good stead for the rest. Those conductors who get the first aspect right tend to get the second right, and are therefore, for me, the greatest interpreters of this symphony.
It is very hard many decades after a first performance to try to gauge the effect a piece of music first had on its early audiences. When something has become so familiar, loved, venerated even, to try to imagine “the shock of the new” that must have seized people at the time is a tall order. But it is an idea we should try to bear in mind if we can and so should the performer. When Mahler wrote his Third Symphony he was a young man wanting to make a very big noise in the world, to try to shake people out of complacency. In the first movement it has always seemed to me that Mahler was saying to his audience, to use modern slang, “Eat my score!” and any performance of the piece that falls short of giving an impression of that attitude is just not trying hard enough. Or at least is trying too hard to be accepted in now more polite circles. So I think it takes a particular kind of conductor to turn in a great Mahler Third. No place for the tentative or the sophisticated, particularly in the first movement which will dominate how the rest of the symphony comes to sound no matter how good the rest is. No place for apologies in that first movement especially. The lighter and lyrical passages will largely take care of themselves. It’s the “dirty end” of the music – low brass and percussion, shrieking woodwinds, growling basses, flatulent trombone solos – that the conductor must really immerse himself in. A regrettable trait of musical “political correctness” seems to have crept into more recent performances and recordings and that is to be deplored. The edges need to be sharp, the drama challenging, Mahler’s gestalt shrieking, marching, surging, seething and, at key moments, hitting the proverbial fan.
|Symphony No. 3 In D Minor|
|A||1st Mov. Kräftig||28:12|
|B1||1st Mov. Kräftig (Conclusion)||4:36|
|B2||2nd Mov. Tempo di Menuetto||10:15|
|C1||3rd Mov. Comodo||17:20|
|C2||4th Mov. Sehr Langsam – Misterioso||9:30|
|D1||5th Mov. Lustig Im Tempo Und Keck Im Ausdruck||4:16|
|D2||6th Mov. Langsam||19:10|
Analyzed folder: /192k Mahler – Symphony No. 3 – Solti
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR14 -0.80 dB -20.18 dB A Symphony No. 3 In D Minor – 1st mov. Kraeftig.aif
DR12 -0.82 dB -16.86 dB B1 Symphony No. 3 In D Minor – 1st mov. Kraeftig (Conclusion).aif
DR15 -3.90 dB -24.94 dB B2 Symphony No. 3 In D Minor – 2nd Mov. Tempo di Menuetto.aif
DR15 -1.31 dB -23.06 dB C1 Symphony No. 3 In D Minor – 3rd Mov. Comodo.aif
DR14 -9.19 dB -29.23 dB C2 Symphony No. 3 In D Minor – 4th Mov. Sehr Langsam – Misterioso.aif
DR11 -2.34 dB -17.78 dB D1 Symphony No. 3 In D Minor – 5th Mov. Lustig Im Tempo Und Keck Im Ausdruck.aif
DR14 -0.43 dB -20.34 dB D2 Symphony No. 3 In D Minor – 6th Mov. Langsam.aif
Number of files: 7
Official DR value: DR13
- Choir – The Ambrosian Singers, Wandsworth School Boys’ Choir
- Composed By – Gustav Mahler
- Conductor – Georg Solti
- Directed By [Ambrozijski Zbor] – John McCarthy
- Directed By [Boys From Wandsworth School] – Russell Burgess
- Orchestra – The London Symphony Orchestra
- Vocals [Contralto] – Helen Watts
- RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
- TT: Vintage (1982) Yamaha PX-3
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
Cartridge: ZYX 50R Bloom
- Phono amp: Pro-Ject Phono Box RS
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- Pre Amp: Große Vorstufe, Erste Frankfurter Röhrenmanufaktur (Tube)
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
If You hear some clicks and pops here and there, Who cares?
Id rather have a few light anomalies instead of destroying the music.
Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops.
My rips are almost rough rips.
- Software: iZotope RX 4 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
- Super light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no de-noising
- DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
- Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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