A top conductor of large orchestral works of the late nineteenth century, Rafael Kubelik was born near Prague in 1914. The son of violinist Jan Kubelik (1880-1940), he studied violin, piano, composition, and conducting at the Prague Conservatory. He made his debut before the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at age 19, and in 1939 became the music director of the National Opera in Brno, Czechoslovakia. In 1941, he became the music director of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, a post he held until 1948. In 1948, with the establishment of a Communist dictatorship in Czechoslovakia, Kubelik left his homeland and became an exile for the next 40 years…
"However, in contrast to Abbado's boring Berliners, Fischer's orchestra plays better, and he's much better recorded. Just listen to the characterful brass in the coda of the first movement, with a particularly fine first trumpet, or the splendid woodwinds in the trios of the scherzo. (…) for a legitimate alternative viewpoint you will find it difficult to do better than this." ~classicstoday
"…It would be impossible for any single recording of this towering masterpiece ever to be considered definitive, or appeal to all tastes, but this searing performance, with the LSO in phenomenal form, should be heard by all who love Mahler’s’ music." ~SA-CD.net
"This is yet another triumph for PentaTone’s RQR series. With visionary conducting and exemplary playing and singing, this set is a treasure to listen to from both an audiophiles' and a musician’s perspective. (…) To sum up: for all Mahlerians, this is an essential addition to the discography." ~SA-CD.net
In many ways Mahler’s Seventh and Eighth Symphonies are the most unusual works that the late Romantic composer ever wrote. The Seventh was the last in a series of middle-period pieces that were purely instrumental in character. Two movements headed “Nachtmusik“ (night music) and the remarkable writing for a guitar and a mandolin help to create a sequence of darkly Romantic visions. And even within Mahler’s markedly eclectic output, the Eighth Symphony enjoys the status of an exotic outsider thanks not only to its two-movement form combining an early medieval hymn and the final scene from Goethe’s Faust but also to the vast forces for which it is scored, earning it the title of “Symphony of a Thousand”.
From the sounds outside his bedroom window–a kind of sonic goulash of military marches, ethnic dance bands, church bells, ritual prayer, and nature itself–Gustav Mahler created an entire universe of emotion in music. In an astonishingly productive twenty-five years, he fashioned ten symphonies and 45 songs of cosmic scale, great beauty, and jarring emotional twists and turns. And he did it all in the brief moments he could spare from his day job as one of Europe's preeminent conductors. In Gustav Mahler: Origins and Legacy, Michael Tilson Thomas returns to the provincial Austro-Hungarian city of Mahler's childhood, and bears witness to his grand achievements, great sorrows, and daring musical explorations into the depths of the human soul. Join MTT and the San Francisco Symphony as they trace Mahler's rise as a young conductor, his career-crowning appointments in Vienna and New York, his turbulent marriage and the sudden, tragic death of his daughter–and show how his stormy inner life inspired new and ever-more heartbreaking heights of creativity.