Kubelik/SBR – Mahler: Symphony No. 7 (2LP, 180g German pressing)

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# Composer: Gustav Mahler
# Orchestra: Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
# Conductor: Rafael Kubelik
# Vinyl
# Number of Discs: 2
# Format: FLAC
# DR Analysis: DR 13
# Label: audite Records | 80.476
# Size: 24-bit/192kHz (2.90GB), 24-bit/96kHz (1.48GB) and 16-bit/44.1kHz (416MB)
# Recovery: 5%
# Scan: yes
# Servers: File Factory

From the label:

Ever since the young Rafael Kubelik became acquainted with the music of Gustav Mahler – primarily through conductors such as Bruno Walter, Erich Kleiber and Fritz Busch – his fascination with it never again left him alone. He pressed forward with the Mahler Renaissance in post-war Germany as one of its main protagonists against the initially reserved attitude of the public and critics.

In Munich, he realized one of the first complete Mahler cycles. The fruitful collaboration over many decades between Kubelik and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra reached unique high points in Mahler’s symphonies again and again. Mahler’s Seventh Symphony appears here in a live recording from the Herkulessaal of the Munich Residenz made on 5 February 1976.

Review:

On February 5th 1976 the Czech-born conductor Rafael Kubelik strode up to the podium in Munich for a live recording of this work with his much-loved Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra players. Although this account was done under the auspices of the Bavarian Broadcasting Company and now appears as a gatefold double 180g LP on the Audite label, Kubelik had previously recorded this work for DGG with the same Orchestra as part of a complete Mahler Symphonic cycle. They clearly recognized his interpretative strengths and the reputation of these Bavarian musicians for sumptuous, nostalgic and exciting performances of a Symphony that is full of daring and incipient tragedy.

The Seventh really is a demanding Symphony both thematically and structurally. Great Mahler conductors like Kubelik and later, Bernstein have brought their own unique visions to a sonorous composition that is equally organic and elemental in nature, especially when it develops the central idyll of the first movement. Yet this is also a completely uncompromising work in those flickering terrors of a nightmarish third section. Technically it is in the first movement where Mahler takes all the risks and it is here that he comes closest to crossing into atonalism. However, he steps back from this abyss with an extrovert and white-hot finale that triumphantly conveys a resilient, euphoric and purpose-filled redemptive quality.

It is the conductor’s role to worthily frame these nature themes, his second movement romanticism, the expressionist nightmare and that highly emotive conclusion. This takes nerve, remarkable concentration and a deft handling of the rank-and-file in the orchestra pit. Here Kubelik develops the Symphony along traditional lines. He is convincing, flamboyant, intense and even delicate when required for the string chords that typically precede the scoring for solo violin. His baton is less flashy than Bernstein’s was for the famous New York Philharmonic readings of the finale but this Kubelik ‘live’ cut has snap and synergy throughout instead. This is reflected in his tempo which gives an overall running timing at a little over seventy three minutes whereas Bernstein’s Seventh is closer to eighty.

A vivid and transparent recording raises the excitement levels even further and the dynamic presentation of instrumental textures is particularly well defined. This is beautifully developed throughout all four movements, but that surreal piercing quality of the clarinet glissandos, which sharply introduces a third movement dreamscape, is really striking. This soon turns to a darker decaying vision-one in which the lean-sounding strings and thumping tubas and contra-bassoons viscously peel away to a grotesque image of a grinning skull beneath the skin. Audite have shown in their re-master just how effective and rewarding the skillful use of engineering can be when drawing out these musical pictures. – vivante.co.uk

Track listing:

Side One
01 – I. Langsam (Adagio) – Allegro con fuoco

Side Two
02 – II. Nachtmusik. Allegro moderato

Side Three
03 – III. Scherzo. Schattenhaft
04 – IV. Nachtmusik. Andante amoroso

Side Four
05 – V. Rondo. Finale

Additional info can be found here.

Ripping Info:

All vinyl is cleaned on a VPI 16.5
Milty Pro Zerostat 3

Technics SL1200-MK5 (modified)
– Rega RB300 arm with RB700 wiring
– Michell Tecnoweight
– SoundSupports armboard
– Trans-Fi Audio ResoMat
Audio Technica AT33PTG/II
AVID Pellar preamp
RME Hammerfall 9632 ADC
PC

Processing: Sound Forge 10, ClickRepair (manual mode only), iZotope RX3

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