What makes Abbado's Mahler performances so remarkable is that their impact is never achieved at the — expense of the multiple sensitivities, subtleties and extreme sophistication. — Together with one of the world's leading y... more »outh orchestras the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester
Abbado performs Mahler's Fourth Symphony and Schoenberg's Pelleas und Melisande, the latter being
preceded by an introduction that offers fascinating insights into this unparalleled composition.
The Fourth Symphony is well established in the international concerts repertory and it is the most
recorded of Mahler's symphonies, right after the First Symphony. Pelleas und Melisande is a masterpiece
in the romantic style of Schoenberg's first period.« less
Claudio Abbado continues his brilliant Mahler series
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 08/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"EuroArts has been releasing these live performances of Mahler symphonies over the past few years. This release is the latest. Abbado conducts the fabulous Gustave Mahler Jugendorchester, a collection of some of Europe's finest young musicians. The performances are so good that seeing all of those young faces is almost stunning on some level. Surely musicians this young cannot be so accomplished? But they are and they are perfectly capable of producing all of the emotion, all of the beauty and all of the sheer complexity of these two masterworks.
Schoenberg's massive tone poem Pelleas and Melisande is based on the same drama that Debussy adapted for his opera. It follows the story faithfully. EuroArts has provided a superb 15 minute introduction which includes onscreen dialog, artworks dating from the turn of the 20th Century when this work was composed and incisive analysis. The performance of this slightly overwrought, highly chromatic but still completely tonal work with its immense orchestra could not be bettered. It is a truly remarkable performance on every level. Abbado's ability to interpret musically difficult moments that are emotionally evocative even while they are harmonically ambiguous stems from his many years in the opera house.
The Mahler Fourth Symphony is the most innocent of all of Mahler's symphonies. With a manageable orchestra of relatively modest size and only a single voice required, the work is quite popular amongst orchestra directors and programmers. Soprano Juliane Banse sings the children's song in the final movement with a melancholy grace that is quite affecting. The Orchestra is superb throughout the work; especially in those emotional moments that dot the symphony which serve to remind us that this is a musical evocation of children in heaven. It is a towering performance of one of Mahler's most pristine creations. This is definitely a DVD worth having if you respond to Late-Romantic music with all of its autumnal beauty and yearning.
Understated Mahler, valuable Schoenberg
Ivor E. Zetler | Sydney Australia | 11/23/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mahler's Fourth Symphony is his shortest and quietest. There is little of the loudness and drama found in his other symphonies and its feeling is somewhat like a pleasant walk in the country on a bright sunny day. Your response to Abbado's interpretation of the work will depend on the way you like your Mahler. If your taste is for heart on sleeve extraversion, Abbado is not the man for you. There is hardly an ounce of fat on this performance; it is a gentle, understated rendition that seems at pains to emphasize the lyrical aspects of the work. It is very well played by the estimable Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. Juliane Banse, too closely filmed at times, has a darkish voice which is not entirely suited to the part.
I turned to Bernstein's 1973 DG DVD for a comparison. Despite the substandard filming and sound, I felt that Bernstein, without going over the top,better captured the essence of the work by injecting some personality and energy into the symphony. But, as I said before, it depends the way you like your Mahler.
The Schoenberg Pelleas et Mellisande makes a valuable coupling. The actual performance is preceeded by an introduction to this somewhat difficult tone poem. Additionally, subtitles are available which explain the progress of the work. Abbado and the GMYO give an excellent rendition of Schoenberg's relatively early composition.
The sound and filming (in the same Vienna venue as the Bernstein) are excellent. Recommended with minor reservations."
Bravo! Now there's a tie for my favorite DVD of Mahler's 4t
Mr John Haueisen | WORTHINGTON, OHIO United States | 09/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First let me say that this DVD contains both the Mahler fourth symphony and Schoenberg's Pelleas and Melisande. I apologize that I cannot say much about P & M. I am simply unable to understand Schoenberg at this point in my life. I will say that the producers certainly did their part, making every effort to help "non-Schoenbergians" start to understand the piece. They walk you through the story with dialog (and subtitles) that will prepare you for the music, which is played very admirably by the young musicians of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester.
Mahler's 4th Symphony:
Until watching this performance, my favorite Mahler 4th DVD was Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. That performance, from the 1970s, featured Edith Mathis as the soprano. She had an elfish, mischievous attitude as she brought out the childlike aspect of this Mahler view of heaven.
Well, "Hats off, gentlemen!" There's a new great M4 in town! As you might expect, Claudio Abbado caresses each Mahler melody. The GM Youth Orchestra responds by returning that love. Really, you can see in their young faces how very much they enjoy making music with Maestro Abbado. At this point I have to add that the photography and camerawork are phenomenal: you frequently see well-placed close-ups at just the right moment.
Could it be any better? Yes. Soprano Juliane Banse succeeds wonderfully at Mahler's intention of providing "a child's view of heaven." Abbado matches Bernstein's love for Mahler, but I'd have to give this DVD a slight edge just because of the beauty which the superb photography brings to enhance an already excellent performance. "
Better Than Bernstein
Zarathustra | Sacramento, CA USA | 10/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have Mahler's Symphony #4 on DVD by Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic from 1973 and have watched it many times. When I saw that Claudio Abbado was releasing the 4th with a youth orchestra, I had my doubts. Then I read the reviews and decided to give it a try. I was amazed! Not only was the performance better than Lenny and the Vienna, but Abbado was the better conductor. With Bernstein it was always about himself, the superstar conductor. Watching this DVD, you can clearly see the rapport Abbado has with his kids, and they perform beautifully. These kids come from all over the world to play with Abbado in Vienna. Soon we will see their faces in the great symphonies of the world. I will be watching this one many times, since it is my favorite Mahler symphony. The kids also give a good performance of an early Schoenberg that is atypical of his later works."
Best 4th ever!
Clive S. Goodwin | 08/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had been listening to this on You Tube, hoping like crazy it would be released commercially. What a performance of Mahler's gentlest symphony! The GMJO play like real pros (which most of them become)and Abbado is on top of his game. All the portamenti,(string slides) ignored by other conductors, are present. The balances are perfect, as is the soloist.The Schoenberg is good, too, but the Mahler is the gem. All this series is wonderful, now all we need is the first and the eighth. While you wait, try the first by Fabio Luisi on the same label. This is a guy that looks like Mahler when he conducts, and the performance and recording are stupendous! Buy both these DVD's !"