Mahler: Symphonies 1 & 9 - Ančerl

Mahler: Symphonies 1 & 9 - Ančerl

Columbia x Tower Records  TWSA-1051/2 (2 discs)

Stereo Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Mahler: Symphonies 1 & 9

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Karel Ančerl (conductor)

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Analogue recording
Comments (2)

Comment by Tony Reif - July 23, 2020 (1 of 2)

Athenaeus, I spent half an hour or so listening to parts of these Mahler symphonies and briefly comparing them to a couple of other discs I've already commented on re sound quality, as you were asking about after liking the Janacek disc. Honestly, these Mahhlers aren't great, even though the recordings are much later than the Janaceks (December 1964 and April 1966). The Janaceks were recorded in '61 but by a different engineer, Miroslav Kulhan, who I think developed a more coherent and sensitive approach to miking the CPO in the Rudolfinum than Frantisek Burda, who did these Mahlers and maybe the majority of Ancerl's in the 60s. I've praised Kulhan's Shostakovich 1 and 5 with Ancerl, and somewhat criticized the Janaceks, but in some ways I prefer them to these Mahlers.

I'm listening on some of the very best headphones (previously Stax 009 but today Hifiman Susvara). Both Janacek and Mahler sound over-bright: although this may be partly a particularity of the CPO sound in those days, most of it surely is the result of using mics with rising high-ends. The Mahler first violins tend to sizzle as well as lacking dimensionality, and loud tutti are quite unnatural to my ear. Quieter passages fare better. Bass is reasonable and hall ambiance is kept under control, but overall I find the sound rather wearing.

I haven't listened through yet to the performances but they sound very different from a lot of Mahler I have heard. David Hurwitz at Classics Today gives them high praise.

Comment by Athenaeus - July 27, 2020 (2 of 2)

Tony, thank you very much for this detailed comment. I think I'll leave this one on my wish-list although I'll push it down to the bottom. Instead, I'll go for the Shostakovich next time I order a couple discs via Buyee.

I was curious about this disc because Ančerl's Ninth is supposed to be excellent. However, Ančerl's First is not as good as his Ninth according to the critics.