F. Charles Adler

Gustav Mahler: Sinfonie Nr. 10 Fis-Dur; Sinfonie Nr. 3 D-Moll

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Frederick Charles Adler's live recordings from the early '50s of the Symphony No. 3 in D minor and the incomplete Symphony No. 10 in F sharp major are regarded as important landmarks in the Mahler revival, an international sensation that took off shortly thereafter. Indeed, revival leader Leonard Bernstein studied the Third Symphony from Adler's recording, and since the Tenth Symphony was given its premiere recording by Adler, many who had been unaware of Mahler's final symphony were exposed to it for the first time. Listeners today can marvel at Adler's comprehension of the vast Third and his boldness in committing such a long and exhausting work to a recording. Bearing in mind that the symphony was originally spread over five record sides, Adler brought to it a focused interpretation that made the music cohere and compelled the listener to stick with it. The Tenth surely must have seemed an oddity for many listeners, in spite of the enthusiastic applause heard here; in its truncated form -- the Adagio and Purgatorio movements only -- it must have seemed much less impressive than it does in later completions, which reveal more of what Mahler had actually composed in his short score. This double-disc from Music & Arts is a historical document, and as such, it suffers from limited audio quality, yet it is remarkably clean, thanks to the careful preservation of the original masters. The playing of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra is far from note perfect, but it is impressive for the effort the musicians put into what were, for them, unfamiliar works, and the performances are quite effective. Students of Mahler will find much to enjoy in these recordings, though newcomers should try to experience the symphonies in all-digital, state-of-the-art sound before giving this set a spin.

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