Zander's 3rd - a performance worthy of Mahler., July 2, 2004
Reviewer: Janos Gardony (Toronto, Ontario Canada)
Here is a great bargain for you. Three Cd's for the price of one, including a lecture over 1 ¼ hour long by the conductor, who is not just a great interpreter but a fine Mahler scholar as well. The talk is fascinating and it alone is worth the price of admission .It will guarantee to enhance your listening experience considerably and make you a convert, if you haven't been already.
Perhaps the most self-indulgent of Mahler's symphonies, it "encompasses the whole world" to quote Mahler. It is perhaps the longest symphony of all and includes everything ,funeral marches , birdcalls, brass fanfares, Austrian military marches, country dances, angelic choirs etc. The overall effect could be a mish-mash in the hands of any lesser composer than Mahler, but he manages to bring it off very well and a good performance could be absolutely awe-inspiring. Zander, with tremendous control over the giant forces this symphony requires, leads an insightful, powerful, sometimes even shattering and certainly well detailed performance. It is a fascinating symphonic journey from the initial fanfare by six horns in unison to the final apotheosis. He builds up the great Mahlerian climaxes and resolves them very well.He maintains the tension throughout and his pacing is very good so the final effect leaves one breathless. The Philharmonia is in excellent form, in fact their fine instrumentalists (specially the winds) deserve a special mention.
I tend to agree however with another reviewer that Zander, being so in love with the work, that he tends to halt the progress at times, to smell the roses, so to speak. Haitink with the Berlin Philharmonic, I think, moves at a better clip and this is important for performing such a long work.
The recording copes with the tremendous dynamic range, from the almost inaudible horn solo of the third movement to the final fff of the last, one that will bring your ceiling down. It was obviously made with SACD in mind although this is the regular CD version. I feel the sound is overwhelmingly impressive though somewhat over engineered. Maybe my ears are at fault, but I had to fiddle with the volume controls to hear the near inaudible passages and then the fortissimos were unbearably loud.
The recording has recently been reviewed in Gramophone magazine and regarded very highly.
Probably one of the best of the later versions. Highly recommended. Great bargain.
Benjamin Zander's Mahler 3, June 15, 2004
Reviewer:A music fan
This being my first experience with Benjamin Zander, I didn't know what to expect. I had also never heard a Mahler 3 before, so I went into this recording with absolutely no experience with the conductor or the music. However, the opening horn fanfare quickly quelled any other thoughts, and I was held by the throat for the next half-hour of the first disc. This truly is an inspired performance; Zander's close following of the score markings and Mahler's original intent go a long way toward a great musical experience. No other recording that I have listened to has come close to the grandeur and sweep of emotions that Zander's performance possessed. Compliments, also, to the Philharmonia Orchestra, whose brilliant playing clearly establishes them as a great Mahler orchestra. Also of interest are Zander's other Mahler recordings; interestingly, a recording exists with Zander conducting the New England Conservatory Youth Orchestra on Mahler's 5th, which rivals just about any professionally produced recording in terms of intensity and quality of playing. The recording can be downloaded from Zander's website, www.benjaminzander.com.
Read the source