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Mahler: Symphony No. 6 - Boulez

Mahler: Symphony No. 6 - Boulez

Esoteric  ESSG-90231

Stereo Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Mahler: Symphony No. 6

Wiener Philharmoniker
Pierre Boulez, conductor

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Comment by Athenaeus - January 24, 2021 (21 of 31)

Universal Japan released the '80s recording Grieg/Peer Gynt/Karajan that I mentioned in my first comment (UCGG-9068, re-issued as UCGG-9505). They also did Sibelius/Finlandia/Karajan (UCGG-9069, re-issued as UCGG-9506). And that's it, as far as I know. I have a feeling they won't be doing anymore. The audiophile community is just too skeptical about the merits of converting old PCM recordings to DSD. Look at what Universal did with the Bruckner/Karajan SACD set. They didn't include Symphonies No. 1, 2 and 3 in the package because they're old PCM recordings, even though including them would probably have made the set more attractive to the prospective buyer.

Comment by Michael Vaughan - January 30, 2021 (22 of 31)

I've never heard the Mahler 6th before and am listening to it from the NativeDSD sample stream. "Mahler: Symphony No. 6 “Tragedy” / Martin Sieghart (Director) / Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra", released yesterday (1/29/21) on Octavia Records and as a digital download in DSD format. I was wondering what you think about this recording, in comparison with the Boulez or other versions.

Comment by Adrian Quanjer - February 9, 2021 (23 of 31)

That’s great, Michael. While others are discussing the technical merits of a recording, and it’s clear that they know what they are talking about and doing so with the best intentions, you remind us all what it is about: The music, preferably in its highest resolution. I do not know this recording. What I do know is that the Arnhem Philharmonic is a Dutch provincial orchestra and that Martin Sieghart is a respected Austrian conductor. And what’s more: These are live musicians.

I’m not against people wanting to have the best possible replacement for a cherished but scratched LP (now called vinyl), but if we want (classical) music to continue to grace our ears, minds, and spirits, we should give the living, and in particular the young, a chance to continue to serve the musical community. Especially now that all are going through an extremely difficult Covid-19 period.

I’m old enough to have had a large LP collection, now all but a few gone. But I find that there is absolutely no shortage whatsoever (and a far better choice at that) of classical music played extremely well by the living.

Back on the subject: I had an LP of Mahler 6 with the Berlin Phil under Maestro von Karajan, which I did not like at all. Too perfect, too rigid, and too tight a control over emotion. For me, the sixth came to full emotional bloom with Michael Tilson Thomas at the helm of the San Francisco Symphony: Mahler: Symphony No. 6 - Tilson Thomas. I believe it qualified for two Grammy Awards.

Why not check it out.

Comment by Athenaeus - February 9, 2021 (24 of 31)

I think discussions about new releases should be divided into two categories. If we're discussing a new recording that has never before been released, then the discussion does indeed have to be first and foremost about the performance and only secondarily about the sonics. But if we're talking about the re-release of an older recording, I think it makes more sense to concentrate on the potential improvements in sound quality; the reason being that, in most cases, these older recordings have already been abundantly reviewed. I'm not saying that the music doesn't really matter in these cases or that it's a waste of time to discuss the merits of the performance. On the contrary, I'm always happy to read what others on this site have to say about the artistic quality of these older recordings. What I mean is that, when one of these older recordings is re-released, discussions about its artistic merits are seldom hard to come by, whereas information about how it sounds on its new disc is often very difficult to find. So it's not a matter of not giving enough importance to the music, it's a question of what kind of information music-lovers can easily find... or not.

I know I've often started discussions about resolution and remastering and one might think I take great interest in the subject. This may come as a surprise but I'm not particularly interested, actually. But I want to know anyway because I want to find that release that will allow me to enjoy the music to the fullest. And I also want to know because, like most people, I'm on a limited budget and I don't want to spend three or four times what the RBCD would cost me for a minimal — or maybe even non-existent — improvement. And even if I could spend buckets of money on discs, I would still shun SACDs that aren't worth the expense as a matter of principle. I find some re-releases very questionable and I think it's a shame that the companies that prepared them didn't instead invest their resources in recordings that really did need a re-release.

Comment by AOS - February 15, 2021 (25 of 31)

@Steven Harrisson This is not correct. The only thing what these companies are doing is remastering. They take the old master and do some more or less subtle changes. Quote by Mofi:The essential idea is to unveil all the detailed musical information on the original master recording without adding deterioration, coloration or other sonic artifacts.

In case of this recording, it would have been great to have a new mix (remix) based on the original multitrack.

Comment by Steven Harrison - February 15, 2021 (26 of 31)

Dear AOS, What are you going on about. This disc is not a Mofi product.

Comment by Mark Werlin - February 16, 2021 (27 of 31)

Steven, you wrote:

"AFAIK Esoteric does not make new masters of the material. They are much like MoFi in that. Perhaps in the future that policy may change."

I think what AOS meant was that you ARE correct that Esoteric and MoFi do not make new masters, but that their policy likely will NOT change.

As Rainer Maillard explained in his correspondence with Tony, to remix the Boulez Mahler 6th would require transferring the original Nagra 4-channel digital reel tapes (if they are extant) and re-editing according to the original editing and mixing session notes. That effort should really only be done at Emil Berliner studios, by Rainer Maillard or his colleagues. It's not that Esoteric won't invest in the process, but that Esoteric's remastering facility is not set up to do that level of work.

Comment by Steven Harrison - February 16, 2021 (28 of 31)

Thanks Mark. I hadn't realized that I had indeed included Mofi in my post #20, recent though it may have been written. It's on the previous page. I should not have made reference to Mofi. The sacd reissue companies all do things a bit differently. Some provide more information than others in the disc booklets.

Comment by AOS - February 18, 2021 (29 of 31)

@Mark and Steven No, I meant that Steven is not correct. Although they do some things differently, the never do a remix. They take the old (analog/digital) master and do some processing (EQ, compressing, noise-shaping, stereo field and so on). In the end you have indeed a new master to produce a physical disc or a download file in different formats. That was meant when I wrote, that the only thing they do is remastering.
In case of the Boulez recording you could do it by youself, because you can make a digital copy of the 16 Bit disc. If you are a used to work with a DAW (Logic, Cubase etc.)you can do the processing on a very high level and you can upscale the material during this process to 24 Bit. Although that will not help not that much, because of the limitation of the 16 Bit source.

Comment by Mark Werlin - February 18, 2021 (30 of 31)

Hello AOS:

My apologies for misinterpreting what you wrote.

I often use sample rate conversion/modulation software to pre-convert 16/44.1 recordings to DSD. It produces subtle changes that make the listening experience more enjoyable for me.

It would be interesting to compare the original DGG CD to the 24/96 files provided to Esoteric, but I haven't found the 24/96 version on any hi-res download vendor sites.

Comment by Steven Harrison - February 18, 2021 (31 of 31)

Hm, after being told that my comments in post #20 were not correct I have been trying to figure out my incorrectness. My comment "Perhaps in the future that policy may change", seems to be the offending comment. Mark did mention this in his post and I seem to have missed it.
I did not mean to suggest that Esoteric would start to make their own new masters from original source material, which seems to be how my comment was interpreted.

What I meant to suggest is that in light of the news of the 24 bit original material, perhaps Esoteric could request a new master to be made by EBS, if possible.
I should have just left out my comment as it led to a lot of unnecessary confusion where none was intended.

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