Monday, March 18, 2013

Lorin Maazel – Symphony No. 1 by Gustav Mahler

   The cycle of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies consists of ten symphonies (the 10th was completed from the sketches) and one unnumbered work in form of symphony Lied von der Erde. Whole cycle completes the separate chapter in the history of music. The first of Mahler’s orchestral works, Symphony No. 1 in D major is most traditional and probably the best known. Some later works, 5th, 2nd Resurrection or 8th Symphony of a Thousand are also well recognized but the level of performing requirements makes them rare events in weekly concert repertoire. In fact the 1st, sometimes called Titan is not easy too, but along with 4th or even 5th, it’s easier to follow for average listeners, so this symphony is performed most commonly.
   The first version idea of this work was a symphonic poem basing on novel Titan by Jean Paul. Four volumes of romantic story on education and getting mature gives Mahler the idea of instrumental work, but later he dropped this project. The title Titan was applied to prior versions of 1st Symphony, but after some changes in the structure of symphony, Mahler removed the title and broke any connections with literary prototype. In 1896 he introduced new version with no additional title, and without Blumine which was the second movement in first three versions. Thus the composition following traditional four-part symphonic construction was more coherent and compact.

Lorin Maazel – Mahler –  Symphony No. 1 (1980)

   The most important requirement for the good performance of Mahler's symphony is the precision and richness of orchestral sound. This is what really makes so interesting to follow different renditions with different orchestras. And it’s really hard to find a good orchestra or a conductor who didn’t try their powers in Mahler’s music. The orchestra of considered achievements with this repertoire is Orchestre National de France which over the decades was basis for many conductors and many interesting albums. And one of most deserved Mahler’s interpreters recording with this orchestra was Lorin Maazel’s rendition who in late seventies conducted performance recorded and published by CBS Masterworks.
   Maazel’s recording shows how open and deep can be Mahler’s First Symphony. Under the grey cover, the performance as the music itself is shimmering with colors. From soft, almost impressionistic nuances in pianissimo, to brave expressive phrases of chamber groups of instruments, from mysterious moments of expectations to the clarity of revelation. Perfectly set tempos and the sound of Parisian Orchestre National is what makes this performance so colorful. Wind instruments can work as a sample of sound capacity. Some romantic reminiscences in culmination of first part, in dancing fluency of scherzo (Ländler) and in inevitable marching continuity of third movement, orchestra is exploding with colors and emotions. The climax of narrative idea is the fourth movement which gives a chance for connecting various ideas. Four and half of highest star.

No comments:

Post a Comment