Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Mahler and Strauss? How Horenstein did it

Today is the 40th anniversary of the death of Jascha Horenstein. Misha Horenstein says

"I was present at the concert preceding this recording, one of my most vivid and lasting musical memories, and also attended one of the recording sessions. The concert opened with Mahler's 4th, then came the intermission followed by three waltzes by Strauss. This programming was a revelation to me, it changed the way I heard both Mahler and Strauss. Later I learned that this was a practice adopted by Mahler himself (and Bruno Walter) for performances of the 1st and 4th symphonies."

"For Horenstein the fourth is not a slight, easy going piece. Charm, for once, is merely a side effect, uppermost is a profoundly disturbing vision, the darker moments fully in focus. Nearly all the tempi are very broad indeed and if one makes casual samplings they seem too slow to work. This is not the case however, and rarely has the work been unfolded with such care for character in detail, or for cohesion in overall shaping. The second movement, with its restless undercurrents, is a revelation, unlike any other you have heard. Its deliberation leads the ear to perceive new dimensions, new angles in the music The third movement, with its deep double bass pizzicati that penetrate the texture like bleeding heartbeats, is wonderfully warm and sustained. Margaret Price, in what I believe is her first commercial recording, sings the last movement with delicacy and great style. R.I.P." 

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