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Reviews: Mahler: Symphony No. 1 - Zander

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Reviews: 2

Review by thepilot January 3, 2006 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
The performance of the symphony is absolutely first rate with stunning orchestral execution, velvety tone colours and exemplary ensemble. Zander understands the magical world the 1st symphony inhabits and completely trasports the listener to the magic vistas the composer visualizes. The sound is as always in these series absolutely stunning and although it is a joint Polyhymnia/Telarc production it still combines clarity with warmth and a dynamic range to test even the very best systems. The Wayfarer songs are not that good because of the excessive vibrato of the barytone, but still a valuable fill up for a winner Mahler 1st symphony. Buy this and the Tilson Thomas/SFSO and you will have all the Mahler 1sts you will ever need in mch SACD. After repeated listening I have to admit that it has been many many years since I came across a Mahler 1st interpretation that allows the symphony to spring to life in such a splendid way. The Finale is especially memorable, bursting with energy and with a dymanic range to blow away the listener and the reproducing system. Bruno Walter's 1st with the Columbia SO and Solti's old analogue set with the LSO (Decca) come to mind -as performances- but this newcomer also has sonics to die for. A desert island disc.

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Review by Dan Popp January 4, 2006 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
You may have to check with your wife before playing this disc. And a warning to the neighbors might be in order for some of you as well - this is a very dynamic recording.

Sonics are excellent, as the previous reviewer wrote. I would rate it just slightly below the Mahler 2nd by Kaplan/Vienna and the Mahler 3rd and 9th by Chailly/Concertgebouw in my collection. It sounds significantly better than the Zander/Philharmonia Mahler 6th from this same series. That SACD sounds more like a RBCD to me, noticeably "restricted." The only slight quibbles regarding this effort would be a touch of boominess in the low end compared to the "ne plus ultra" recordings, and that the strings and brass seem to get a bit "boxy" at maximum levels. These are no doubt accurate representations of the hall, which is otherwise lush and reverberant. It really has a rich, detailed sound in stereo.

Speaking of the Mahler 6 recording in this series, this disc, too, comes with a companion "pre-concert lecture" CD which I find fascinating. And the beautiful thing is that, if you don't want it, you can use it as a coaster and just enjoy the music.

As to the performance, I'm not really qualified to judge, though it sounds flawless and crisp to my untrained ears. I have to disagree with the previous reviewer's comments about the baritone. He seems to use about the same amount of vibrato as most singers, and the "Wayfarer's Songs" are a pleasant bonus.

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