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Mahler: Symphonies 1 & 4 / Brahms: Symphony No. 1 - Levine

Mahler: Symphonies 1 & 4 / Brahms: Symphony No. 1 - Levine

Dutton  CDLX-7344 (2 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Mahler: Symphonies 1* & 4**
Brahms: Symphony No. 1

Judith Blegen** (soprano)
London Symphony Orchestra*
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
James Levine (conductor)

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Comment by Waveform - November 4, 2017 (1 of 8)

Glad to see Dutton has re-released these Mahler recordings from the quadraphonic era, looks like a must-have purchase for every serious Mahlerian.

Comment by hiredfox - November 9, 2017 (2 of 8)

I have commented under the flag of Dutton's new Heldenleben release but the same theme applies here

Comment by William Hecht - November 9, 2017 (3 of 8)

I'm responding to John's thought here rather than the Heldenleben thread because I had all these recordings on CD-4 encoded RCA LPs but I never had the Heldenleben and don't even know whether it was an RCA CD-4 or a CBS SQ that Dutton has rescued from the ash heap. When they were new these Levine recordings enjoyed considerable critical acclaim, at least stateside. Whether the acclaim was engendered primarily by the performances or the then new quadraphonic sound I can't recall, but they've been gone from my shelves for at least 30 years so I'll probably plunk down my money as an exercise in nostalgia. Goodness knows they have to sound better than they did in the days of the CD-4 demodulator and Shibata stylus. Otherwise John I'm with you, my money goes toward the propagation of new repertoire and talent so that I do my little bit to keep great music alive and vital not off to the side in an aural museum.

Comment by Waveform - November 9, 2017 (4 of 8)

Bill, I would like to hear how these (Mahler/Levine recordings) sound in quad? No reason to spend money for mediocrity.

Comment by William Hecht - December 7, 2017 (5 of 8)

This arrived in my mailbox yesterday. How's that for timing? I hope that Dutton at least can recover it's costs.

Comment by SteelyTom - December 10, 2017 (6 of 8)

However prevalent the rumors surrounding Levine may have been, his sudden, utter fall from grace is truly staggering. He's arguably the greatest classical musician ever produced by America.

His RCA recording of Mahler 3 with Chicago SO is the first CD I ever purchased, back in 1985.

Comment by William Hecht - December 11, 2017 (7 of 8)

The Brahms 1st in this set was recorded in leftover session time from that Mahler 3rd recording you mentioned. For our friend Luketsu and anyone else who may still have an interest in this set I'll just comment briefly that all three performances are excellent, particularly that time pressured Brahms which has real intensity. That's also the best of the recorded sound unless you're into the "immersive" experience. The rear channels in the Brahms are used for ambience and the recording is reasonably natural and effective. The Mahler 1st has direct sound wrapping around to 90 degrees right and left of the listening position, not very realistic even for someone who prefers to sit in the front row when attending a concert (I prefer the rear of the orchestra, that's stalls to many of you, or the first balcony). The Mahler 4th has a 360 degree direct sound field which is completely unrealistic and among other travesties results in Judith Blegen's wonderful singing being entirely too loud and quite literally "in your face". A couple of weeks ago I'd have said this set was a must buy for the immersive sound fans. Now I can only report what I hear and the rest is up to you.

Comment by hiredfox - December 12, 2017 (8 of 8)

I've not kept up with all of the recent allegations of impropriety by notable figures here or in your part of the world Tom, after all they are only allegations at this stage aren't they?

The only observation I can make is that such allegations are rarely levelled at 'normal' people. What disturbs me most that alleged perpetrators are named and in the eyes of many shamed before anything is proven against them. We can all recall the episode involving similar allegations made against Michal Pletnev a few years ago which came to nought.