An Obvious Solution to the London Concert Hall Problem


When it was announced that Sir Simon Rattle will become conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in 2017, there were suggestions of the need for a worthy concert hall for him and the orchestra. These suggestions attracted controversy, critics ranging from Julian Lloyd Webber (“an inappropriate use of funds”) to Timothy Walker (who wants it for his London Philharmonic and thinks it should not be in London).

One million pounds have already been spent on (more…)

Channukah in Summer? (a note on Mahler’s Eighth Symphony)


Gustav Mahler in Maiernigg, summer 1906

As I write this, it is the last day of Channukah, 5776 (2015), and it occurrs to me that Maos Tzur, sung at Channukah, begins with a most unusual melodic progression:


E-flat, B-flat, E-flat, A-flat: Down a fourth then up a fourth. I searched in my mind for other instances of this combination of intervals, and all I came up with was: (more…)

What Goes Around Comes Around

AARP Magazine for Jan/Feb 2010 has an article on the current revival of interest in vinyl (long playing) records (How Records Got Their Groove Back, by Bill Newcott). (more…)

Published in: on 23 December 2009 at 06:11  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Orchestral Balance in Jascha Horenstein’s recording of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony

Jascha Horenstein

Jascha Horenstein

Given the vast number of examples, the survey that I did of recordings of Mahler Symphonies — “Mahler on Record: The Spirit or the Letter?” — in the book Perspectives on Gustav Mahler had to be restricted.

I decided to do this in several ways by considering only: (more…)

Interpreting Mahler — the beginning of the Fourth Symphony

The first page of the manuscript of Mahler's Fourth Symphony

The first page of the manuscript of Mahler's Fourth Symphony

A friend asked me to comment on the first few bars of a recording of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony recently. When I listened to it and looked at the several versions of the score I realized that, while Mahler was quite specific in his notation, many orchestras and conductors have responded very differently to his requests. (more…)

Published in: on 2 August 2009 at 22:14  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

The Golden Age of Stereo


I am often asked why the older recordings are better. By older people usually mean the stereo orchestral and operatic recordings made between the late 1950s and early 1970s. I am not sure that I know the answer, but the observation is true in many respects, and recordings from the golden age of stereo continue to provide stiff competition to modern recordings. The venues and techniques used for some of these older recordings are documented and perhaps reveal the secret of their quality. (more…)

How do non-musicians hear music? Fourth movement


EMI have issued a new recording of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra conducted by their music director, Sir Simon Rattle, in October 2007. A video introduction to this recording is posted on the internet on which Sir Simon makes what I think are incomplete assertions:

“…Finally in all his pieces, he [Mahler] found really the shape for the middle movements — what these two scherzos are… And in a way it’s very simple. I mean, they’re both very bitter, very sarcastic, very angry pieces.”

Ignoring the implied claim that (more…)

How do non-musicians hear music? Third movement

Daniel Barenboim talks about Gustav Mahler

Daniel Barenboim talks about Gustav Mahler

The conductor Daniel Barenboim has given an interview about his relationship to the music of Gustav Mahler. You can read it in full here.

Among other things, Barenboim discusses the question of emotion in music: (more…)

The future of Surround Sound

The Soundfield Microphone

The Soundfield Microphone

The July 2009 issue of the U.S. Stereophile magazine contains a leading editorial by Steve Guttenberg in recognition of the tenth anniversary of the launch of Super Audio CD (SACD). He begins:

“I love stereo, always have, always will. A great stereo recording can produce such a full-bodied, three-dimensional soundstage that surround sound seems superfluous. Multichannel is just peachy for home theater, but good ‘ol stereo suits music just fine, thanks very much.”

Mahler’s “version” of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Hans Schliessmann: Mahler Conducting in Vienna

Hans Schliessmann: Mahler Conducting in Vienna

I have spent a lot of time over the past ten years preparing for publication a score of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the instrumental alterations (Retuschen) of Gustav Mahler. This score has been performed already in the USA by Leonard Slatkin and five times in Europe. (more…)