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Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

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Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D major 'Titan'

Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D major 'Titan'

Live Recording, Munich, Herkulessaal 26.–27.06.2014


The music of Gustav Mahler, the Late Romantic composer on the threshold of modernity, has been a firm part of the repertoire of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks ever since the early 1960s, when the orchestra's Mahler tradition was established by its former chief conductor Rafael Kubelik. BR-KLASSIK has already released Mahler's First (as part of an audiobook CD) and Seventh Symphonies with Mariss Jansons, as well as the Ninth with Bernard Haitink. The young Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin is making his debut here on the BR-KLASSIK label with Mahler's First Symphony. He is one of the most important representatives of a younger generation of conductors and, since his European debut in 2004, has already conducted such renowned orchestras as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic. Yannick Nézet-Séguin is currently chief conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Booklet contains original symphony programme explanations by Mahler.

“The Bavarians, with their long experience of performing Mahler, deliver superbly precise and expressive playing for their guest conductor…the performance of the finale in particular marries discipline with power and impetus, bringing the symphony to a rousing conclusion…there’s a lot to admire in this new recording” Gramophone Magazine, May 2016

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BR Klassik - 900143

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Mahler: Symphony No. 3

Mahler: Symphony No. 3

Live-Recording: Munich, Philharmonie im Gasteig, 15. – 17.06.2016


Gerhild Romberger (contralto)

Augsburger Domsingknaben, Frauenchor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Bernard Haitink

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

Gustav Mahler's Third Symphony still ranks today as one of the greatest and most powerful creations of the Late Romantic period. The huge symphony, longer and more monumental than the others and containing texts from the collection of poems by Clemens Brentano and Achim von Arnim entitled “Des Knaben Wunderhorn”, was composed over a period of four years from 1892 to 1896, and especially during the summers of 1895 and 1896, which Mahler spent at the Attersee in Austria. Following performances of several individual movements of the symphony, the complete work was premiered on June 9, 1902, at the 38th “Tonkünstler Festival” in Krefeld. Mahler conducted the Städtische Kapelle Krefeld and Cologne’s Gürzenich Orchestra at this exciting event. It was one of his greatest successes, and his contemporaries were deeply impressed. Between 1902 and 1907, the composer conducted his Third Symphony a further 15 times.

Of the six powerful movements, the slow fourth one requires not only a large orchestra but also a mezzo-soprano solo for a setting of the “Midnight Song” (“O Man! Take heed!”) from Friedrich Nietzsche's poetical-philosophical "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," while in the cheerful fifth movement the mezzo-soprano soloist is joined by a children’s choir and a female chorus for the song Es sungen drei Engel from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn". The symphony is a huge challenge for all its performers, and this concert recording of June 2016 has a prestigious line-up: guest conductor Bernard Haitink with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Augsburger Domsingknaben and the Frauenchor des Bayerischen Rundfunks; the solo parts are sung by Gerhild Romberger.

“Haitink has long been regarded as one of our least egocentric and interventionist conductors, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that more keenly than on this recording...throughout the long first movement in particular, there’s a sense that the music is simply being allowed to unfold itself organically rather than being driven too hard.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 6th January 2017

“The opening horn unison arrests and promises much, Mahler’s Third delivered with the long view typical of Bernard Haitink. He doesn’t sensationalise the music…the remaining five movements, naturalistic and divine, receive superior outings – poetic, eloquent, picturesque, as agile and athletic as required. The posthorn solo during the third movement is especially magical…as ever from Bavarian Radio, the orchestra and the sound are exemplary.” Classical Ear, 17th April 2017 ****

“Haitink seems just a pure conduit for the music.” Hi-Fi News, May 2017

“a perfect beauty of a performance, natural sound matching natural evoution and every solo perfectly intoned” BBC Music Magazine, May 2017 *****

“While the performance feels most engaged when the music is in repose, the inner movements are more than adequately eloquent. The excellent posthorn solos in the third are credited to Martin Angerer…Gerhild Romberger has an old-fashioned contralto-ish timbre in the Nietzsche setting…the choirs sound lovely in the fifth movement and the finale has always been a Haitink speciality, plainly spoke and all the more moving for it.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2017

Presto Disc of the Week

6th January 2017

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - May 2017

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BR Klassik - 900149

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Mahler: Symphony No. 5

Mahler: Symphony No. 5


All Mahler scholars have agreed from the very start that Gustav Mahler embarked on an entirely new path with his Fifth Symphony. Even for his immediate contemporaries, such as the conductor Bruno Walter or the music critic Paul Bekker, the Fifth marked the beginning of a new creative phase, and Mahler himself was also keenly aware of this – which is why he was all the more upset by the fact that his work was not understood at its premiere in Cologne in October 1904 and, even later, met with a largely negative reception. In 1905, following an unsuccessful performance in Hamburg, the composer complained: "The Fifth is an accursed work. No-one understands it.” It was only after Mahler’s death in May 1911 that people slowly began to appreciate the piece. The Fifth ranks today as one of Mahler's most popular symphonies. This is due in part to Luchino Visconti's 1971 film adaptation of Thomas Mann's novella ‘Death in Venice’, which used the symphony’s world-famous Adagietto to great effect: the movement enjoyed unanimous approval from the very start, and has now advanced to become Mahler's ‘greatest hit’ and the most famous work in his entire oeuvre. In its structure, the symphony does not follow the classic four-movement form, but presents us with five movements in three sections. Conceptually, Mahler relies on methods he had already tried and tested in the work’s great predecessors, the Second and Third Symphonies. The centerpiece of the work is a lengthy scherzo full of grotesque humour, inspired by Jean Paul, while its resting-point is the Adagietto, which certainly bears many of the hallmarks of Mahler's slow movements. The harsher sound of this symphony ushered in a new creative phase for Mahler – one that he developed further in the Sixth. The maximum use he makes of the tonal means available already clearly anticipates the Ninth, in which he begins to abandon tonality altogether and encompass the transcendental aspect of the music. This Munich concert event of March 2016, now released as a CD by BR KLASSIK, is an outstanding interpretation of one of the most important compositions of the international symphonic repertoire of the early 20th century.

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BR Klassik - 900150

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Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor 'Tragic'

Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor 'Tragic'

Live-Recording, Munich, Philharmonie im Gasteig, 20.- 22.03.2014


Daniel Harding follows his first CD recording on the BR-KLASSIK label (Schumann's Faust Scenes, BR-KLASSIK, 900122) with this live recording of Gustav Mahler's Sixth Symphony. Counting Sir Simon Rattle and Claudio Abbado among his teachers, since 2005 he has constantly made a name for himself with spectacular concerts with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks as a guest conductor. In this live recording of 2014 from Munich's Philharmonie im Gasteig, BR-KLASSIK presents one of Mahler's most unusual symphonies. Its dark and complex score contrasts starkly with what appeared on the surface to be a happy and carefree phase of the composer's life when he wrote it. The world-class conductor Daniel Harding demonstrates great artistic flexibility here; and with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, he encounters an ensemble that has been among the pioneers of Mahler performance ever since the Kubelík era of the 1960s.

“with the Scherzo and Finale Harding is well up there with the greats…above all it's the Bavarian Radio Symphony, with its fabulous first trumpet, baleful, full-toned tuba and winsome oboist, which collectively confirms itself as one of the top five orchestras in the world.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2015 ****

“There is much beautiful playing from the Bavarians, in the slow movement above all, assuming that you can accept an interpretation trading heartbreaking melancholy and human warmth for a kind of frozen poise…[Harding's] relatively deliberate, anti-rhetorical treatment certainly avoids the usual heaviness.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2015

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Mahler: Symphony No. 7

Mahler: Symphony No. 7


Making a valid recording of the Seventh by Gustav Mahler places the most stringent requirements on the virtuosity of every individual musician in the orchestra. The task of bringing together the highly complex individual parts into a coherent whole – an undertaking that, when it succeeds, always has a a breathtaking effect, especially with Mahler – calls for a conductor capable of uniting the ensemble of individual solo-quality musicians into an overriding musical concept. Attesting to how convincingly Mariss Jansons and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks accomplished this feat at their Munich concert, the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote: “We listened to an orchestra that had clearly reached the high point of its art.” The multi leveled, detail-rich score of this Mahler work – here in a recording based on the critical edition by the International Gustav Mahler Society – gains even more impact from the stunning technical reproduction using the high-definition SACD process. With his two grotesque “night music” sections, sounds of nature, naïve folk-tune motifs and trance-like orchestral tutti passages, the 7th Symphony is typical of Mahler’s sound world.

“The first 'nightmusic'… benefits from the hard work of Jansons the soundmaster, with downward plunges phenomenally clear and luminous woodwind trilling… the Rondo-Finale make [Mahler's] the best possible case for Mahler's clear-sighted depiction of communal exuberance. ...Jansons's judgment in tempo co-ordinations is superb here...” BBC Music Magazine, January 2010 ****

“...a depth and breadth of sound that really hits you...In sonic terms alone it’s breath-taking, but so is every other aspect of the Bavarians’ performance.” Financial Times, 2nd January 2010 *****

“The finale is breathtaking as a piece of orchestral alchemy, winds and brasses blending seamlessly into virtuoso and lustrous strings.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2009

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BR Klassik - 403571900101

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Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Live-Recording: Munich, Philharmonie im Gasteig, 20./21.10.2016


Gustav Mahler's Ninth Symphony is primarily regarded as the composer’s reaction in the summer of 1908 to the diagnosis of a heart ailment, which he received just before writing the first sketches for the work. Mahler was deeply distraught and cannot have known how few years he still had left to live. His processing and exploration of his life experiences, and of valedictions, the meaning of life, death, salvation, life after death and love, always took place in and through his music. The Ninth Symphony was composed between 1909 and 1910 in Toblach, in a kind of creative frenzy, and was first performed in Vienna on June 26, 1912 by the Vienna Philharmonic, under the baton of Bruno Walter. Mahler had already died on May 18, 1911, and was no longer able to experience the premiere of his last completed work. Willem Mengelberg, the first ardent conductor of the composer’s works, wrote in his score: "Mahler's soul sings its farewell!" Mahler's Ninth Symphony represents the culmination of a development process. The progressive chromaticism and maximum utilization of the tonal are here taken to their limits - and, for the first time, beyond them. Indeed, the two movements that frame the work, in particular, depart from the tonal entirely, pointing clearly to the dawn of a new musical epoch. Alban Berg even called this symphony "the first work of New Music". The Munich concert event of October 2016 is now being released on CD by BR-KLASSIK – it is an outstanding interpretation of one of the most important compositions of the international symphonic repertoire of the early 20th century.

“What is special is the care [Jansons] the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the engineers have taken with the quieter music: those haunting, shadowy transitions in the Andante; those remote, blanched contrapuntal episodes in the finale. And the final fade-out must surely be among the most fine-spun on record” BBC Music Magazine, June 2017 ****

“Mariss Jansons’s Munich Mahler scores highest for warmth, intelligence and emotional centredness.” Classical Ear, 23rd March 2017 ***

“As ever, Mariss Jansons produces an exquisitely moulded performance, with every transition beautifully managed, and every dynamic scrupulously observed. The orchestra plays with refinement.” Daily Telegraph, 25th March 2017 ***

“Mahler’s Ninth is wonderfully rich in nuance in this recording. The playing of the BR-Orchester under Mariss Jansons is filled with emotion, and yet never threatens to let sentimentality gain the upper hand. This has a great deal to do with the thoroughly musical care taken by Jansons, who is never swept away by the symphony’s programme.” FonoForum, April 2017 *****

“I can’t think of a Ninth with less neurasthenic edge and a more inviting legato character. The playing [is] of predictable finesse…its restrained expressivity and cultured sound provide easeful balm for difficult times” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“Mariss Jansons here directs a memorable live account of Mahler 9, drawing stunning playing of considerable intensity from his Bavarian orchestra. Immaculately prepared, as usual, I admire Jansons’ masterly control of tempo, dynamic and scale. Beautifully recorded too at the Philharmonie, Munich” MusicWeb International, March 2017

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BR Klassik - 900151

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Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Live-recording, Munich, Philharmonie im Gasteig, 15./16.12.2011


Two years before his death, Gustav Mahler composed his Ninth Symphony, the last one he was able to complete. In view of his serious heart condition, the composer concerned himself in this work with the resulting existential change in his life.

Bernard Haitink is a regular guest on the podium of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. In December of 2011, the conductor from the Netherlands led the orchestra in this work, replacing Mariss Jansons, who was indisposed at the time and he was highly praised for his "old-wise" interpretation. Following Bruckner's 5th Symphony, this is already the second release Bernard Haitink has presented with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks on the BR-KLASSIK label.

Bernard Haitink and the BR-Symphonieorchester: a perfectly interacting team.

A new live-recording from December of 2011.

“[Haitink] shows no sign of weakening his grip on the seemingly effortless long-term vision which has always been a hallmark of his masterly conducting. There are no surprises here other than in the Finale...Solo work is superb throughout, especially so from the first horn, and a live recording which captures barely a shuffle from the audience...a palpable front-runner.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 ****

“the way Haitink negotiates the first movement's troubled course displays an unflinching grasp of where and when the climaxes should hit hardest...Between the outer movements' polar extremes Haitink manages vivid reportage of the Landler's ribald humour...This is unquestionably one of the great Ninths of recent years” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

“there's a feeling of urgency about this new performance that I don't remember in Haitink's Mahler before, as if he is now almost impatient with the Ninth's resigned acceptance of mortality. There's an angularity about the woodwind lines and a rawness to the textures from what is one of Europe's finest orchestras that seems to expose the music's nerve ends; it's not always comfortable listening, but it is sometimes startling.” The Guardian, 26th July 2012 ***

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BR Klassik - 900113

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Strauss - Wagner - Mahler

Strauss - Wagner - Mahler


Mahler:

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (4 songs, complete)

Strauss, R:

Hymne Op. 34 No. 2

Der Abend Op. 34 No. 1

Männerchöre (3), AV123

Wagner:

Three songs to 'Tristan and Isolde'

Arr. Clytus Gottwald


On this new CD the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks under the direction of Peter Dijkstra presents itself a cappella in works by Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and Richard Wagner.

Magnificent tone paintings like “Isoldes Liebestod” (“Isolde’s Love-Death”) and the “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen” (“Songs of a Wayfarer”) radiate a new unprecedented glory in transcriptions for 16-part chorus by Clytus Gottwald. Thanks to its special tonal homogeneity and stylistic versatility, this ensemble enjoys the highest regard throughout the world. Dutch conductor Peter Dijkstra – the artistic director of the ensemble since 2005 – is the shooting star on the choral scene and has presented the ensemble together with both BR orchestras in a number of versatile programs.

- Purely Chorus! The BR-Chor presents itself a cappella

- Warm, crystal-clear choral sound

- “Classics” from the late romantic era in unusual transcriptions

- Recent recordings from 2009 and 2011

“Formidably assured singing.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 ****

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BR Klassik - 900503

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