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Benjamin Zander and The Philharmonia

Benjamin Zander and The Philharmonia

Each disc is accompanied by a discussion disc. For more than 75 minutes, using musical examples performed by the orchestra or played on the piano, the conductor explains the music in such a way that even inexperienced listeners, hearing Mahler’s music for the first time, are able to follow and enjoy it. These discussion discs have received worldwide acclaim from educators and critics as some of the most effective tools for broadening interest in classical music since the TV broadcasts of Leonard Bernstein in the 50’s.

"Music lovers have not had so enthusiastic a guide into the mysterious world of classical music since the glory days of Leonard Bernstein. Zander has the gift for talking about music in ways that makes it more comprehensible to newcomers, without being condescending to well-seasoned listeners. -- High Fidelity

Bruckner: Symphony No. 5

"Benjamin Zander, on a second, accompanying, disc devoted to a characteristically lucid, passionate analysis of the work, is an eloquent advocate of its transcendent compositional and spiritual qualities, and the performance, with the Philharmonia on effulgent form, matches it in clarity and conviction."
"Zander creates a remarkable narrative and complements it with a performance of great lucidity and drive." Read the Review (pdf)
"...the special feature of this new recording on Telarc from Benjamin Zander and the Philharmonia Orchestra is the additional disc, on which the conductor gives a lucid and eloquent introduction to the symphony, replete with music examples. This has a thoughtfully contrived balance between analysis and biographical context, and interestingly it also involves some family history, telling the tale of his father’s love of Bruckner through the dark years of the First World Way, when Zander senior served in the Austrian army on the Russian front. This was at a time when the original edition of the symphony, as played here, was not available... the helpful acoustic of the Watford Coliseum makes the Philharmonia Orchestra sound well as a corporate unit... Zander adopts tempi that always seem appropriate, with a sensitive flexibility that brings an ebb and flow to the symphonic is hugely satisfying and full of interest, and worth acquiring for the bonus disc that offers so many insights into the workings of this great symphony."

Mahler: Symphony No. 1

"His reading of the whole work — and of the associated songs — is simply magnificent. Four stars"
"I would rank this disc in the top ten recordings of Mahler's 'Symphony No. 1'"
"This performance is about as good as anyone can hope to hear"
"...this triumphalist Mahler First belongs on the top shelf beside Bernstein, Kubelik, Giulini and Walter... This is the best-sounding Mahler First I've heard."
"And in what is a wonderful collaboration, Zander elicits a nuanced and colorful performance, with the orchestra in turn responding to his direction instinctively and intuitively."
"It takes a conductor with Zander's breadth of vision to present it to us with Mahler's full intention..."
"The orchestra impresses with sweetness as well as power..."
"Benjamin Zander continues his essential Mahler series for Telarc with this outstanding release."
Benjamin Zander and the Philharmonia's recording of Mahler's "First Symphony" coupled with his "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen" sung by baritone Christopher Maltman is not only the best Mahler's First in decades, it is one of the great recorded performances.

Mahler: Symphony No. 3

Benjamin Zander’s four previous Telarc recordings of Mahler symphonies (the Ninth, the Fifth, the Fourth, and the Sixth) with the Philharmonia Orchestra have inspired music critics around the world to use descriptions such as “searing,” “definitive,” and “uniquely illuminating.” Now he brings his signature combination of passion and impeccable musicianship to Mahler’s epic Third Symphony. The three-CD set includes a bonus discussion disc intended for the lay listener, in which Zander takes the listener through the score movement by movement revealing Zander’s insights into the symphony.

"This is one of the most revelatory moments in the history of surround orchestral recordings, and it deserves to become widely used as demo material. A fortissimo bravo to Zander and Telarc. There's no better way to begin fathoming this difficult but rewarding work."
Two new recordings of the Third have appeared... Better by far is the Philharmonia under our own Benjamin Zander (Telarc CD-80599). This is, as you would expect, a passionate performance; but one which nevertheless manages to highlight the quietest of solo passages, and retain a sense of the sweep of the entire work. The long first movement is particularly fine. A bonus "discussion disc" is well worth listening to..."
David Littlewood, Wayfarer Magazine
"I don't think anyone who admires Mahler's music can afford to do without this new recording." "I feel that Zander...has given us a Mahler Third like no other, and has taken his Telarc Mahler series to a new peak." "Zander's commentary adds much to one's appreciation of the music. He is everything you could want in a teacher: well informed, insightful, humane, moving and genuinely enthusiastic." Fanfare
"Even without the bonus of the conductor's absorbing illustrated analysis, this issue (three CDs for the price of one), would be exceptional. The recording, as befits the most fantastically scored of all symphonies, is wonderfully clear..."
David Cairns, London Times UK
"Now THIS is the real thing. Here is a disc to remind classical lovers why we got so passionately attached to music in the first place… I once again find myself nudging aside old favorites in recognition of another outstanding Mahler recording by Benjamin Zander."

Mahler: Symphony No. 6 "Tragic"

"Chosen As One Of The Best Recordings Of The Year"

by the Boston Globe, The London Sunday Times, and Fanfare Magazine

Zander's reading of the symphony is both fierce and tender- the military motifs are thumped out, but the slow movement is played with tenderness of feeling, and detail of expression. Comparison of Zander with Karajan's highly regarded performance with the Berlin Philharmonic is revealing; Karajan is faster, more brittle, brilliant and relentless, but I believe Zander is closer to the volatile spirit of Mahler... But the main reason to choose Zander is his 79 minute disc of introduction and explanation. This is Zander the communicator at his most winning and informative; he explains the music from the inside, shows how it fits classical forms and patterns and after you have listened to him you will appreciate the way the old sonata form gave dramatic strength to Mahler's music.
"Zander is arguably the most devoted Mahlerian of the day, and the sixth symphony has passionately exercised him. I do not hope to hear a more wrenching yet heartwarmingly lyrical account on disc."
" glittered with strange colours and burned with diabolical drama. Zander's dynamic direction suffused every pore of the orchestra."
The Guardian
"...belongs on every Mahler shelf - it sheds new light on Gustav's dark star."
The Boston Phoenix
"I come away from this performance drained, enlightened, in awe of this level of music-making....In a just world this recording would come to be regarded as a classic performance, in the same way that the first Leonard Bernstein recording has. It belongs in every record collection."
A uniquely wrenching yet heart-warmingly lyrical account by the Philharmonia Orchestra under Ben Zander. The textures have brilliant clarity. The deeply pondered but spontaneously felt tempi and phrasing hold one in a sometimes terrifying grip.
"This recording is quite simply the finest Mahler 6th... (It) raises the bar for the whole classical recordings industry... Top disc of the year 2002, bar none..."

Mahler: Symphony No. 4

The CD of Mahler’s 4th - was chosen by New York Times Music Critic Ann Widgett as No. 3 on her list of the ten best recordings of 2001.

Mahler’s 4th Symphony will be performed in St Petersburg with the St Petersburg Philharmonic in November of 2003.

*Star of the month* "HEAVENLY SPLENDOUR" One could simply come out with it and call this performance of the Fourth Symphony the most felicitous Mahler recording of recent years.
Zander's revelatory Mahler Fifth is followed by a Fourth that, without self-indulgence or exaggeration, similarly helps you to hear a familiar symphony in a new light.
"Mr. Zander both gives the music room to breathe and makes it so clear that it's as if all four movements were fitted out with verbal texts: Mahler to sink your teeth into."

Mahler: Symphony No. 5

Mahler’s Symphony No 5 - was voted the best recording of Mahler’s music made in 2001 and awarded the Toblacher Komponierhäuschen Award by five leading Viennese Critics. This disc was also chosen by David Cairns, chief Music Critic of London’s Sunday Times, as one of the ten best recordings overall of 2001.
"...everything is part of a smoldering organic whole...he hits the perfect balance between the driven and the divine in this music."
"Zander's Fifth is a revelation...Like Mahler himself, his time has come."
Zander understands Mahler in practice as well as in theory... exhilarating and often... overwhelming."

Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 & 7

A CD of Beethoven’s Symphonies 5&7 was issued in 1998 and is the first in the complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies to be recorded with the Philharmonia and issued by Telarc. It, too, is accompanied by a full length CD on which Benjamin Zander explains the fascinating ways in which following Beethoven’s own tempi reveals the emotional impact and meaning of the music as something rather different from what one is accustomed to.

As Andrew Porter wrote in the pages of The New Yorker apropos of Zander’s Beethoven interpretations: "If Mr. Zander is right, we have been listening to the music of the greatest composer only in misrepresentation."

With Zander, the Philharmonia is transformed back into a breathing ensemble that plays its heart out for the cause.
"Zander is plainly one of the conducting giants of our time... he keeps making me gasp for breath as he unfolds music afresh that I thought, after many,many hearings, I already knew."
"If Mr. Zander is right, we have been listening to the music of the greatest composer only in misrepresentation."
"I was thrilled when I ran into this recording. The music is fabulous and the "lectures" are fascinating, edifying and very understandable. Everyone I've played this for agrees and wants their own copy."

Mahler: Symphony No. 9

The CD of Mahler’s 9th, the first issued by Telarc in what will be a complete traversal of the Mahler symphonies by Zander and the Philharmonia, was nominated for a Grammy, in the category of Best Orchestral Performance in 1999.
"The performance of a millenium."
"This rendering of the Mahler 9 is simply the finest I have heard...probably closer to what Mahler intended than any other conductor."
"...remarkable...we hear countless vivid expressive details—all adding up to one organic, multi-dimensional statement...The nearest comparison I can think of is Bruno Walter's 1938 Vienna Philharmonic recording - clearly the sound of an orchestra of great individualists, united in a common musical cause."
"This is a great performance...Zander proves his stature as a Mahlerian...This set belongs on the same shelf as a select few Mahler Ninths."
"Mahler doesn't come any better than this. I have listened to this recording time and again in total awe. It is scrupulously meticulous in its attention to what the score says, and the results take your breath away..."


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