Levine/Philadelphia O: Mahler Symphony No. 9 - RCA ARL2-3461 (2LP set)

$15.00 USD

RCA (LP)

Jacket: NM  /  Vinyls: NM  /  US pressing

This superb 2LP gatefold set from RCA (ARL2-3461, US pressing, Red Seal label, stereo) features conductor James Levine and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s magnificent account of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, sumptuously recorded at Scottish Rite Cathedral, Philadelphia on 7 January 1979 (producer: Jay David Saks / engineer: Paul Goodman).

The exact track listing is as follows:

Symphony No. 9

Andante Comodo

29:33

Im Tempo Eines Gemächlichen Ländlers. Etwas Täppisch Und Sehr Derb

18:00

Rondo-Burleske: Allegro Assai. Sehr Trotzig

14:14

Adagio

29:50

Of Levine’s near-complete Mahler cycle on RCA, the outstanding critic and editor David Hurwitz wrote for ClassicsToday:

As a Mahler interpreter, his performances are exciting, fabulously played, razor-sharp rhythmically, and sensitive to the myriad details of Mahler's scoring. He has terrific vocal soloists...Artistically, though, this is about as good as it gets, and it's a pleasure to welcome this set back into circulation.


“Had James Levine finished his Mahler cycle with Nos. 2 and 8 it might well have been the finest available. Rehearing these performances it's amazing just how competitive they still are. Certainly Nos. 3-6 and 9 stand with the finest available, and Nos. 1 and 7 aren't far behind. Only does No. 10 sound oddly disengaged, partly the result of the denatured digital recording of the last four movements (the opening Adagio was recorded earlier in analog). Levine's recent Mahler has become much slower and heavier than what he offers here, so this set has to be considered one of the Mahler discography's great "might have beens."


“Still, this doesn't diminish the value of what Levine actually gave us. As a Mahler interpreter, his performances are exciting, fabulously played, razor-sharp rhythmically, and sensitive to the myriad details of Mahler's scoring. He has terrific vocal soloists--Judith Blegen in the Fourth and Marilyn Horne in the Third--but seems not to like cowbells very much in the Sixth and Seventh. Perhaps the two standout performances are the Fifth and Ninth, as much for the playing of the Philadelphia Orchestra as for Levine's intense interpretations.


“The sonics were always wildly variable. Remastering has helped, but the percussion in the Sixth is still too far forward, and the Seventh was an early digital nightmare. It's listenable now, but still no engineering prize. The total absence of notes and sung texts is inexcusable. Artistically, though, this is about as good as it gets, and it's a pleasure to welcome this set back into circulation.”

Incidentally, the cover photo of James Levine was taken by Robert M. Lightfoot III. There are superb liner notes by Jack Diether, printed in English only.

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