Leonard Bernstein's Legendary Recordings: Complete Mahler Symphonies
Released on Sony Masterworks, remixed and remastered from the original tapes for the first time
Featuring The Long-Unavailable Audio Documentary “Gustav Mahler Remembered” As A Special Bonus
“... Leonard Bernstein’s role in propelling Mahler’s music from cult status into the mainstream can never be underestimated... These original Bernstein Mahler disks were landmarks in the history of recorded sound...” –The New York Times
Leonard Bernstein’s championing of Mahler in the 1960s and ’70s reintroduced the Austrian composer’s magnificent music to the world and installed his symphonies into the standard repertoire of the greatest international orchestras. In the wake of worldwide commemorations in 2008 of the 90th anniversary of Bernstein’s birth, Sony Masterworks has created a newly remastered and remixed edition of Bernstein’s Mahler: The Complete Symphonies, which can be regarded as the definitive version of this historic recording.
This specially priced 12-CD set features Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic in Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 1–7 and 9. He conducts the London Symphony Orchestra for Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”) and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for the song-symphony Das Lied von der Erde. The first movement of the unfinished Symphony No. 10 is also included.
As a special bonus, this release includes a long-unavailable 1967 audio documentary entitled “Gustav Mahler Remembered: Reminiscences by Mahler’s Associates and by Musicians Who Played Under His Baton,” narrated by William Malloch. It is a fascinating, intimate look into what it must have been like to know and work with the brilliant composer and impresario.
The liner notes of this handsomely packaged box set feature new essays by Erik Ryding and Pulitzer-Prize winning critic Tim Page. Also included is Bernstein’s seminal essay for High Fidelity entitled “Mahler: His Time Has Come,” originally published in 1967 to coincide with the LP release of the complete symphonies, in which the conductor makes the most passionate and convincing of cases for the enduring relevance of Mahler’s music.
The final master for this CD release was produced using Sony’s SBM Direct technology in order to retain audiophile quality. Sony’s engineers worked with the master tapes in their original multi-track format. What the listener hears in this release is truer to the recording sessions than any previous release.
Gustav Mahler (1860–1911), like Bernstein who followed him a half century later, was a musician of stunning talent and incredible influence — a composer, conductor, and impresario who galvanized those around him and helped to shape his cultural moment. As an impresario and music director, he held positions at Hamburg Opera, Vienna Court Opera, the Metropolitan Opera (briefly), and finally the New York Philharmonic. Mahler championed the music of other contemporary composers, among them Richard Strauss, but the critics and the public never seemed to understand his colossal symphonic style and his musical vision of an arrogant, gilded age rotting noisily beneath the surface.
At the mercy of music critics after his death, Mahler’s compositional legacy seemed unsure. It is no overstatement to say that Bernstein’s championing of Mahler altered the fate of the brilliant Austrian composer in the annals of music history.
When Bernstein decided to record the complete symphonies, the New York Philharmonic already had a profound connection to Mahler. Mahler’s music directorship of the Philharmonic was his last before he died, and he had led the orchestra in many of his own works. In Bernstein’s second season as the Philharmonic’s music director in 1959–60, he chose to preside over a Mahler festival to celebrate the centennial of Mahler’s birth and the 50th anniversary of his appointment as the Philharmonic’s music director. The idea of the recording project was borne of that endeavor.
From May 6-17, Carnegie Hall is presenting “Mahler: The Symphonies in Sequence,” a complete cycle of the Mahler symphonies led by Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez. The resonance with history is powerful: Carnegie Hall presents its Mahler celebration fifty years after Bernstein’s anniversary festival.
Part of a new specially-branded series entitled Carnegie Hall Presents, this release is intended as an audio companion to Carnegie Hall’s presentation of Mahler’s symphonies.