Das Lied Comparison: Walter '58 NY

Dear Friends,

Earlier today, I posted the recording of Kleiber’s Das Lied. He is my favorite conductor. However, this recording by Walter somehow catches my ear even more. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. I apologize that I still haven’t learned how to zip all movements together (on Mac) into one file to reduce download time, so sorry!

First Mvt






I think this recording comes from 1958 in stereo with the NY Phil. Walter made three versions of Das Lied, and although the soloists here, Miller and Hoefliger, are less famous, they sound convincing. I think there is a certain intoxicated exuberance that Hoefliger achieves in the first movement. I find it arresting and I couldn’t stop listening to this, over and over. It really is one of those recordings that can bring solace in a dark winter.

I hope you enjoy! I’d be curious to know what you think and how this compares to the Kleiber.

Zsolt :rectum: :rectum: :rectum:

In some ways, it’s the recording to have- Walter conducted the world premiere of the piece and was Mahler’s assistant in Vienna at the beginning of his career. Miller was not his first choice as soloist- he wanted Maureen Forrester, but contractual conflicts kept her away. Haefliger isn’t my first choice of voice- both King and Wunderlich have more of the beauty and power required, but Haefliger is a great artist and intones the text brilliantly.

Walter in Mahler is incomparable. As much as I love Lennie and some other conductors, Walter manages to sustain an intensity that has nothing hysterical and false about it that I find more gripping than more extrovert conductors. It’s fashionable to put him down- he was in his 80s when recording this, I believe, but he really could trasmit a totally different idea of the composer than is fashionable now. That said, I can’t imagine living without Berstein’s Lied, one of best recordings.

Thanks for such an interesting reply, indeed! I agree about Haefliger, that he doesn’t quite have the splendor of other singers, but brings his own unique sense of the piece to the occasion. Walter seems to be a wonderful choice for Mahler, and his Mahler 9 especially has some special moments. On the subject of Lennie, I’ve been collecting the recent DVDs of the Mahler cycle, and find them to be very engaging indeed. What he brings is an overwhelming passion and a highly prismatic sense of mood, which is often effective in Mahler. Are you familiar with these DVDs? In the 2nd Symphony finale, it looks like Lennie is having a cathartic experience!

Yes, I know the dvds quite well, as well as both of his sets. As much as i love Bernstein, he’s why I became a professional musician, I have yet to be at ease with his Mahler, finding a lot of it over the top. The neurosis is written into the music, and if a conductor adds too much of his own to the music it begins to distort some of the pieces, such as the 4th, 1st, 6th and 9th, which I think are far better suited to very intense but controlled conductors like Giulini, Abbado, Walter and more than anyone Szell. Interesting how the opera conductors do so extraordinarly well with this music- Mahler was the Gereral Director of the Vienna Staatsoper and singing was in his blood- not screaming. I think a fair number of contemporary composers tend to bring out what they find in common with
the neurosis of Schoenberg and Berg, two disciples of his, but of course this was their quality, not his.

My facorite Mahler performance is George Szell’s 6th symphony, and a broadcast 9 and Lied from his last years are also incredible. I’ll post them later.