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Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor

Rate It! Avg: 4.5 (57 ratings)
Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor album cover
Disc 1 of 2
Symphony No. 6 in A minor: I. Allegro energico, ma non troppo. Heftig, aber markig
Artist: Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony
Symphony No. 6 in A minor: II. Scherzo - Wuchtig
Artist: Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony
Symphony No. 6 in A minor: III. Andante moderato
Artist: Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony
Disc 2 of 2
Symphony No. 6 in A minor: IV. Finale - Allegro moderato - Allegro energico
Artist: Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony
Album Information

Total Tracks: 4   Total Length: 87:21

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Depends on how you like your Mahler


Have listened carefully to 6 & 7 in this series by Tilson Thomas. No doubt of their general quality - critics haven't been impressed for no reason. But Mahler was writing at a certain period of European history and at a certain stage of the development of western music. He's late-Romantic, melodramatic, heavy and full of literary and existential angst. I find this cycle a bit bloodless and lacking overall coherence. In my view, the playing and the sound should reflect this context. If you're new to Mahler, these will get you going nicely (6 & 7 are excellent value at 4 & 5 credits respectively) but to really understand what 6 is about, have a listen to von Karajan (DG) or Tennstedt (EMI). For 7, try Tennstedt - not available on eMusic, I know, but worth the adventure...

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I thought this was the best of MTT's so-so Mahler cycle but just listen to Andreas Delfs and the Milwaukee SO on the MSO label on emusic to see the real Mahlerian difference.

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Urbane rather than heart-wrenching


I'm amazed this was recorded so soon after 9/11. Tilson Thomas’s approach is generally urbane rather than heart-wrenching, and this might seem inappropriate to Mahler’s “Tragic” Symphony. However, this is a reading not to be underestimated, even if (maybe predictably) the work’s tragic aspects have been better expressed elsewhere' despite the timing of this performance. So this is a reading for those seeking an alternative view, rather than a mainstream recommendation. Like the rest of this cycle, the sound is unreservedly very fine indeed, with the acoustic quite lively but still well controlled and with a nice sense of presence.

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Review in Chinese


人稱MTT的提杉.湯馬斯Tilson Thomas指揮舊金山交響樂團所錄製的馬勒第六交響曲榮獲2003年葛萊美獎最佳交響樂唱盤. 馬勒這首交響曲後來被冠上"悲傷"(Tragic)這個別名, 除了反映1905年馬勒寫這首音樂時的個人生活裏的悲劇外,似乎又是預表這張唱盤錄製時的時代背景 - 2001年九月十二日(紐約世貿被撞崩塌的第二天). 雖然美國大眾的心情都很沮喪, 但這張唱盤錄製的品質, 卻絲毫未受影響, 其演奏及錄音品質近乎完美, 弦樂部份飽滿而充實, 木管部門相當有紀律; 馬勒悼念妻子的悲淒, 很充足地表達出來. 最後樂章MTT的傾巢而出的磅鑮感令人振撼.

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Not Mahler


Sorry to say, but despite all the hype surrounding this recording, it can't be recommended as "Mahler". It is too limp throughout, lacking as much in emotional range as in expressive tempo and dynamics, even though this performance probably benefits from the live venue. For a real Mahlerian 6th, try Jansons with the Royal Concertgebouw also live and also in the Emusic catalog.

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I like MTT - I think he's an excellent conductor, and his recordings of Ives in particular outshine all competitors. But I’m just not convinced by his Mahler. I worry that this recording of the Sixth in particular is being appreciated for extra-musical reasons. The fact this was recorded on Sept. 12 2001 ought not be allowed to distract us from the failings evident here. The opening bars tells us all we need to know – instead of the relentless claxon of fate we are treated to the mild buzz of an alarm clock in the next room. The rest of the symphony drifts around without a sense of direction. Perhaps Thomas’s attempt to avoid sentimentality led him to dilute the frightening power of the work. There are high points. The Andante – placed after the Scherzo – is excellent. But the rest of the symphony is unconvincingly read as Mahler’s Tepid Symphony, rather than his Tragic. A shame.

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Unrepeatable performance on the morrow of 9/11


This will be remembered as one of the great recordings of the decade. The unforgettable tragedy of Mahler's score is combined with the highly-charged tragedy felt by every member of this American orchestra and American conductor when they made this recording on 12 September 2001, the very day after the 9/11 attacks on their fellow citizens. It is the first recording I have heard on the San Fransisco Symphony's own label, and impressive it certainly is from a sound engineering perspective. Crisp, well-spaced, not too close to lose the full ensemble effect, but with sufficient detail to give that all-important "live" feel.