Composer: Gustav Mahler
Orchestra: New York Philharmonic
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Number of Discs: 1 SACD-R
Bit Depth: 64(2.8 MHz/1 Bit)
Number of channels: 2.0
Label: Sony Classical
Size: 2,16 GB
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 1
Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic
Symphony No. 1 in D major “Titan” (Revesited version)
01. Langsam, schleppend 15:10
02. Kräftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell 8:18
03. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen 10:20
04. Stürmisch bewegt – Energisch 18:55
Leonard Bernstein conducts the first Symphony of Gustav Mahler, taken from his first cycle of the symphonies done for Columbia. Note that this is the 1999 single-layer stereo SACD, not the later Japanese hybrid MCH issue.
Other conductors championed Mahler before Bernstein. Mahler’s disciples Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer never stopped performing Mahler when his music was exceedingly unfashionable, leading to such classic recordings as Walter’s 1938 Mahler 9 on EMI. Mengelberg, despite his later dalliances with the Nazis, was also a major proponent of Mahler’s music. And in the 1950s, Dimitri Mitropoulos regularly performed Mahler’s works with a terrifying intensity with the New York Philharmonic, even though the hall was half-empty much of the time.
And yet, Bernstein was the one who brought Mahler to the world. His mix of telegenic personality and star power combined with a deep sympathy for Mahler’s idiom and (some would say excessive) personal identification with Mahler himself lead to Mahler being a composer who suddenly everyone needed to hear. In some ways, Mahler’s 1st suits Bernstein especially well…it is his earliest major orchestral work, and was written when Mahler was still a relatively young man, with success, travails, and tragedy still in his future. The work unabashedly borrows on “Jewish” idioms in a way no other Mahler symphony does, and the “frère Jacques” funeral march is not the sort of thing that Mahler would repeat later in his oeuvre. Mahler’s first symphony is not his greatest work, but it was a necessary work for all his others that would follow. And it’s a lot of fun to listen to, to boot.
So, strap yourself in and listen, from the journey of the first movement to the waterlogged dance of the second to the garish and haunting third movement to the unalloyed and lengthy triumph of the finale. Other great versions of this piece have been recorded, including Bernstein’s digital recording with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for DG. But this is the essential one. This is the one where the book was opened for the first time, and no-one ever looked at the symphony the same again.