Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Candida Thompson – The Mahler Album (2011) DSF DSD64

Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Candida Thompson – The Mahler Album (2011)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz  | Time – 59:28 minutes | 2,34 GB | Genre: Classical
Source: ISO SACD | © Channel Classics Records B.V. | Front Cover, Booklet

“A quartet for string orchestra! That sounds strange to you. I already know all the objections that will be raised: ruination of intimacy, of individuality. But that is an error. What I intend is only an ideal representation of the quartet. Chamber music is primarily written for the living room. It is really enjoyed only by the performers. The four ladies and gentlemen who sit at their music stands are also the audience towards which this music turns. If chamber music is transferred to the concert hall, this intimacy is already lost. But even more is lost. In a large space the four voices are lost and do not speak to the listener with the power that the composer wanted to give them. I give them this power by strengthening the voices. I unravel the expansion that is dormant in the voices and give the sounds wings.”

Thus Mahler in an open letter in the Viennese newspaper Die Wage in January 1899. On 14 January, during his first season as chief conductor of the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra, he was to conduct the premiere of his arrangement for string orchestra of Beethoven’s String Quartet opus 95 ‘Quartetto serioso’. And what Mahler had anticipated did indeed occur during this concert: after the first movement loud cries of boo erupted, countered by fervent applause from Mahler’s supporters. Despite his deep conviction, Mahler never performed his arrangement again. His score and the orchestral parts were found in the late 1980s in the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra archive. The arrangement was first published in 1990, and since then Mahler’s version of the ’Quartetto serioso’ has had a permanent place on concert stages around the world.

By virtue of its definitive-sounding title, one might expect The Mahler Album to be a compilation of excerpted movements from the symphonies or song cycles, or at least to contain music only by Gustav Mahler. As it is, this SACD from Channel Classics presents the famous Adagietto from the Symphony No. 5, a string orchestra arrangement by Mahler of Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, “Quartetto Serioso,” and Hans Stadlmair’s 1971 string arrangement of the Adagio of the unfinished Symphony No. 10. While it is indeed music composed or arranged by Mahler, almost 22 minutes out of the album’s hour length is of interest mostly to specialists, because the string quartet arrangement is more of a curiosity than an essential part of the Mahler experience. Performed only once in 1899 and essentially forgotten until it was published in 1990, this version of the “Quartetto Serioso” is controversial because the intimate nature of the chamber piece is dramatically changed in the thickened textures and greater volume of a string orchestra. It is a rarity for Mahler buffs, and it is not representative of the composer’s output and characteristic expression, so the average listener might be a bit confused by its inclusion. More helpful are the two selections that bookend the program, and conductor Candida Thompson and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta deliver them in full-throated expression, in a manner that is quite lush and passionate. Newcomers to Mahler who seek a more representative compilation might try EMI’s Mahler: Adagios, but this album is best appreciated by more experienced Mahlerians. –AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson


Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
1 Adagietto from Symphony no. 5 in c sharp (1901-1902) 11.00

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
String Quartet no. 11 in f minor, opus 95 “Quartetto Serioso” (1810)
arr. for string orchestra, G. Mahler (1899)
2 Allegro con brio 04.45
3 Allegretto ma non troppo 07.20
4 Allegro assai vivace ma serioso 04.43
5 Larghetto espressivo – Allegro agitato – Allegro 04.56

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
6 Adagio from Symphony no. 10 (1910) 27.06
arr. for string orchestra, H. Stadlmair (1971)

Amsterdam Sinfonietta
Candida Thompson, leader

Recorded: Philharmonie, Haarlem, The Netherlands; Stadsgehoorzaal, Leiden, The Netherlands; 3, 4, 5 October 2010 (Beethoven/Mahler Adagietto); 14,15 April 2010 (Mahler Adagio)


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