C0024. BRUNO WALTER Cond. Vienna Philharmonic, w. Hilde Güden: Three Mahler lieder; Symphony #4 in G – Live Performance, 5 Nov., 1955; w. Maria Cebotari & Rosette Anday: ‘Resurrection’ Symphony #2 in c – Live Performance, 1948; w. Kathleen Ferrier & Julius Patzak: ‘Das Lied von der Erde’ – Live Performance, 17 May, 1952 (all Mahler). (E.U.) 4-Andante 4973, recorded on a Selenophone, a device that used the photoelectric properties of selenium to etch a soundtrack on 8mm film. Lavish Edition features elaborate sturdy hardcover deluxe 166pp book. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! 699487497320
“This four-CD set presents unique performances of symphonies and orchestral lieder by Gustav Mahler, with Bruno Walter leading the Vienna Philharmonic. Containing previously unreleased recordings, this collection features the Fourth Symphony and orchestral lieder with Hilde Güden; the Second ‘Resurrection’ Symphony with Maria Cebotari and Rosette Anday; and ‘Das Lied von der Erde’ with Kathleen Ferrier and Julius Patzak, a performance captured a day after the completion of the famous Decca recording. As a direct disciple of Mahler, Bruno Walter had a special authority and affinity with the composer's works, particularly ‘Das Lied von der Erde’. The accompanying 168-page booklet contains a wealth of period photos, as well as a preface by renowned Mahler biographer Henry-Louis de La Grange, an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tim Page, and in-depth essays by producer Gottfried Kraus, former VPO violinist Otto Strasser and Bruno Walter authority Erik Ryding.
This ‘Resurrection’ Symphony is more dramatic, biting and fervent than Walter's late life stereo version for Sony. This is a familiar document, long available on pirate labels. This concert marked Bruno Walter's return to Vienna after wartime exile, and I find the Symphony very moving. He displays the traditional Germanic tendency to vary the musical pulse within the first movement's development section. This is a tempestuous version interspersed, when appropriate, with the pastoral flavor Mahler felt when composing this opus at an Austrian lake.
The 1948 sound is boxy but has very good bass response. The timpani and lower strings come through fine with no obvious distortion in big moments. It is not perfectly clear but more than acceptable by any standard.
The Vienna Philharmonic was having a good day during this performance, taken from Austrian radio, with all members up to the important task. The singing of alto Rosette Anday is good, even though she is flat at the beginning of ‘Urlicht’ and slides several times, while the work of soprano Maria Cobetari is wonderful.
The 4th Symphony, recorded in 1955, is even better and more universally Mahlerian than the 2nd. This is music where Walter's sense of beauty, proportion and humanity meld perfectly with the nature-driven score. This is a new release from the archives of the Vienna Philharmonic and is, therefore, a surprise addition to Walter's discography. There are several other Fourths from him in concert, but collectors seem to agree that this is the best and the best-sounding. Hilde Güden sings the heavenly music and contributes three Mahler songs captured at the same 5 November, 1955 performance in the Great Hall of the Musikverein.
The May 1952 recording of ‘Das Lied von der Erde’ with contralto Kathleen Ferrier and tenor Julius Patzak is in every way a peer of their earlier famous studio collaboration. Certainly it made sense for this team to perform the music live that 17 May, a day after making their historic recording.
All told, this set helps 21st Century listeners more fully understand the connection between Bruno Walter and Gustav Mahler that must have existed early in the 20th Century when Mahler was conducting these scores in Vienna and New York. This recorded tribute must then be considered near definitive for everything herein, even though I've heard many better songs from later recordings.
As is their custom, Andante surrounds the 4-CD pack with 166 pages of notes, photos and collectibles in three languages and hardcover front and back. A true collector's item for any Mahler addict.”
- Larry Van De Sande, VINE VOICE, 27 Feb., 2004