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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Mahler: Symphonie No.1' [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Leonard Bernstein

For those not in the classical know, Gustav Mahler was an Austro-Bohemian late-Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation.

As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century.

While in his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of relative neglect which included a ban on its performance in much of Europe during the Nazi era.

After 1945 his compositions were rediscovered by a new generation of listeners; Mahler then became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers, a position he has sustained into the 21st century.

In 2016, a BBC Music Magazine survey of 151 conductors ranked three of his symphonies in the top ten symphonies of all time.

Just released, mastered from original sources and pressed on 180g heavy-weight vinyl, Mahler: Symphonie No.1 also features original jackets and liner notes.

Along with that this highly impressive new package now includes the audio on CD in a wallet accompanying the vinyl LP.

Side A:
1. Langsam. Schleppend (16:12)
2. Kräftig bewegt (8:55)

Side B:
3. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen (10:25)
4. Stürmisch bewegt (20:09)

Now this remastered album is really something special. As in his recording of the First with this orchestra, Bernstein's tempos have markedly sped up, especially in the slow movement. He seems to have really discovered the secret of the music's essential innocence, and he now knows exactly when to make a point and when to just let the music speak naturally.

The use of a boy soprano in the finale is unique but not unexpected. Mahler himself thought about it but opted for an adult soprano because he believed that this would prove less limiting to future performances of the work.

He was right, of course, but so is Bernstein for letting us hear the composer's original thoughts in such a pure and enjoyable form.

That all said, and (again) personally, I thought the first two movements were superb, and I could not want much more from them. The solo violin you hear in the 2nd movement is played by the then concertmaster of the Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden. Sure, to me, the third movement is a wee bit too fast for my liking, but still an orchestral delight of the highest order, of that have no doubt.

The Amsterdam recording was always superb to listen to, to breathe in, and there is an extra sheen and richness in the orchestral sound by dint of the digital origin and the fact that the Concertgebouworkest is such a natural Mahler orchestra, in truth superior to their New York counterparts.

Both openings are magical; redolent of "faery lands forlorn". Bernstein is even more humorously galumphing and indulgent in the second movement there than with the NYPO, but he doesn't overdo it in the "Frère Jacques" movement in either version. Both Finales climax magnificently but again, the Dutch orchestra has the edge for power and brilliance.

Continuing the Bernstein 100 celebrations, Berntein’s recording of Mahler’s Symphony No.1 with the Concertgebouw Orchestra is now made available on vinyl again.

Leonard Bernstein 'Mahler: Symphonie No.1' [Vinyl LP] Purchase Link