Yesterday. we had a cold day in corona-land Sweden so I took the opportunity to stay indoors in the afternoon and listen to twelve versions of Mahler’s 10th symphony completed by others. I am not a musicologist nor a Mahler expert but I listen to quit a lot of music these days and I got hooked on the thread initiated by Austinpop.
However, I realized that I would take several days to do a proper listening-through of this material so I decided to do a survey by listening to samples. First I listened to the Adagio (1st movement completed by Mahler himself), then I went through the list listening to movements 3 and 5 (excerpts).
The twelve versions that I chose to listen to via Tidal were:
1. Eugene Ormandy, The Philadelphia Orchestra.
2. Thomas Dausgaard, Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
3. Simon Rattle, Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra.
4. David Zinman, Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich.
5. John Storgårds, Lapland Chamber Orchestra.
6. Riccardo Chailly, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin.
7. Simon Rattle, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
8. Andrew Litton, Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
9. Leonard Slatkin, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.
10. Martin Sieghart, The Arnheim Philharmonic Orchestra.
11. Rudolf Barshai, Junge Deutsche Philharmonie.
12. Yoel Gamzou, International Mahler Orchestra.
My first impression was that the Adagios all sounded remarkably similar, at least as interpretations. I started feeling this was going to be an impossible undertaking to choose one or two favorite versions. But I pressed on, listening to the various attempts to elaborate and complete Mahler’s outline of the 10th symphony.
In my notes I can afterwards see that I found these versions to be everything from lively to dull, from traditional to modern, from elegant to “Mahler on steroids”, etc. When I had listened to them all, I was first tired but ten felt inspired by the fact the I found it easy to pinpoint at least three favorites that I went back to and listened to in full:
1. Thomas Dausgaard, Seattle Symphony Orchestra. The best from several worlds! Modern, dynamic, clear. Neutral in a good way.
2. Eugene Ormandy, The Philadelphia Orchestra. Oldie but goodie! Surprisingly fresh and good SQ. Dynamic. Clear. Well balanced. Very likeable.
3. John Storgårds, Lapland Chamber Orchestra. The rookie and big surprise! Modern, charming, lively. Good SQ. Noticeably clear. Dynamic. Feels new, a version for our time.
And I also liked Riccardo Chailly with RSO Berlin. Modern, continental. Big orchestra. Big sound. But still not as effective as chamber size orchestras.
I am certainly glad I could stream all these twelve versions and compare them. And now I know that I would like to buy and keep at least my top three versions. And stream others.
And of course I wonder which versions you prefer!
PS. Good to hear that your place in Texas is cooling down again, Austinpop!