Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Going Against Fate -Recording Mahler's Sixth Symphony|
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
One Wild Ride!
Mr John Haueisen | WORTHINGTON, OHIO United States | 03/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Going Against Fate pairs an excellent CD performance of Mahler's Sixth Symphony with a DVD that shows the extensive preparation that is involved in such a performance.
One of the things you will see in the DVD is "hammerschlag practice"--the testing by percussionists and sound engineers of various hammerblow sounds created by slamming a huge wooden mallet down in various ways upon a wooden soundbox. This is done to try to achieve the effect that Mahler described as something between lightning striking a tree or a huge annihilating, crushing blow.
At points, the rehearsal is briefly halted, as conductor David Zinman interjects comments like: "Do you hear any cowbells?" or "Can this be a little more 'Whatever Lola likes, Lola gets.'" As one of the musicians comments, many musicians appreciate anything a conductor can do to let them know his vision of how he wants the music played.
Zinman, describing how he wants to hear a passage emphasizing the tuba parts, tells the orchestra to play it more "Fafner-like." The very apt suggestion nearly fails as the members of the Zurich orchestra are so young that many do not immediately recognize the allusion to Wagner's Ring. This youthfulness is certainly countervailed by a musician's explanation of how well they work together: "We have fun!"--they want to play it so well that the audience will share their enjoyment.
The CD of the entire Mahler Sixth displays the rich results of their "happy workshop." The tempo is brisk but not too fast, and it never drags. Playing by the percussionists is exceptionally well-done--something especially important in the music of Mahler.
This is one of the best recordings ever for those of us who enjoy Mahler's use of cowbells. Often, they are hard to hear, but in this performance you hear them and appreciate the importance of their inclusion.
The final movement features some excellent playing of the tuba. It also creates a mood evocative for me of childhood Halloween evenings where, especially for young children, there is a feeling of eerie scariness, causing a feeling that we are being carried into the dark skies out and out beyond the planets. Please give this wonderful set a try.
This Mahler's Sixth is one wild ride!"
A must have for anyone who loves Mahler 6
B. Guerrero | 05/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ditto to everything that the other reviewer has said here. My only complaint is a very minor one: sometimes the dvd feels a tad like an "infomercial" for Zinman and the Tonhalle Zurich Orch. But when everybody is so expert on the topic at hand, why not? There's still tons of insight into Mahler, and Mahler's psychology around the time of his composing the tragic 6th symphony. I have to confess, I've long been a big admirer of the conductor David Zinman.
I feel that he is one of America's best kept secrets - one that European orchestras have certainly taken advantage of for decades (he conducted the excellent orchestra in Rotterdam for quite a while). The performance of the symphony itself is superb in every regard. It's so good, that I'm not going to bother citing details in an effort to convince you, the reader. Just take my word on this: with the inclusion of the dvd, this is a must have for anyone who loves this symphony, or simply wants to get more background information about it."
An Interesting but Limited Look at an Orchestra and its Musi
mackjay | Cambridge, MA | 12/09/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"GOING AGAINST FATE is a film documenting conductor David Zinman and the preparation of his orchestra, the Tonahalle Orchestra Zurich, for a performance and recording of Symphony no.6 by Gustav Mahler. The film is beautifully shot, with many images of gloomy mountains and melancholy landscapes meant as analogies for the music. We also see quite a few attractive shots of the city of Zurich. In conventional documentary style, we are also shown many brief interview segments with the conductor, members of the orchestra and the recording engineers. Most interesting are the orchestra players, who range widely in age and experience. They all show commitment to their work and to the orchestra itself. For Mahler fans, it's fun to see the lead percussionist trying out different hammer blows for the symphony's finale, as engineers react to the powerful sounds. This orchestra plays beautifully and expressively, when they are not being interrupted by the conductor. And therein lies the limitation of this film. Mr Zinman, obviously a capable musician, tends to remove much of the spontaneity from this performance by constantly tweaking every small detail. He certainly knows the work well, but his insistence on the most conventional views of Mahler and his music only ends up limiting the player's and the listener's appreciation. It's a cliché to see Mahler's themes as symbolic of himself, wife Alma Mahler, or their children playing, for example. Why can't the music speak for itself, as pure music? There is little doubt that the music does speak for itself, Mahler would not remain a very popular composer if we could only hear his symphonies as allegories for his personal life and career. Zinman's comments on the finale are more satisfying, he does speak of a "Hero" and his subjugation to "Fate", but those are abstract enough as terms that they can be used to describe what happens in the music. This film will attract the attention of Mahler fans all around, but for some it will be a disappointment."