Mahler 10/Zinman [Clinton Carpenter’s Edition]

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Mahler
Symphony No.10 [performed in Clinton A. Carpenter’s performing version]

Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich
David Zinman

Recorded 1-3 February 2010 in Tonhalle, Zurich


Reviewed by: Christian Hoskins

Reviewed: March 2011
CD No: RCA RED SEAL
88697 76896 2
Duration: 78 minutes

 

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The success of Deryck Cooke’s performing edition of Mahler’s unfinished Tenth Symphony, first heard in 1960, has tended to eclipse the various other realisations of the score that have been attempted. These include versions by Clinton Carpenter, Hans Wollschläger, Joe Wheeler, Remo Mazzetti (twice) and Rudolf Barshai. Over the last decade or so, however, performances of some of the alternatives have started to become more frequent, providing an additional perspective on not only Mahler’s conception but also Cooke’s.

The earliest attempt to bring Mahler’s manuscript to life was made by Carpenter, an amateur musicologist based in Chicago, who produced a version for piano in 1946 and an orchestral draft in 1949, with a further version appearing in 1966. Carpenter’s first attempt is remarkable in that it predates not only Cooke’s version but also the publication of the Křenek-Schalk-Zemlinsky edition of the first and third movements in 1951. Carpenter’s version is also notable for his liberal addition of secondary voices and orchestral detail where he felt the score would otherwise sound too bare. More controversially, Carpenter also made occasional alterations to the instrumentation and notation suggested in the manuscript, based on the premise that Mahler would have made a complete revision of his draft score. This contrasts with Cooke’s aim of creating a performable score with as few additions as practicable to Mahler’s unfinished text. In an article for the Dutch Mahler Society published in 1977, Carpenter described the differences in the approaches as follows:

In the matter of authenticity, Cooke, as usual, sticks to the exact notes that the manuscript has. I have varied pitch, changed melodic lines, and sometimes altered the time values (quarter notes instead of a half note). Both of us have added additional voices, but I have added much more.

The first movement, which was the most developed part of the symphony at the time of Mahler’s death, can be played as it stands, and here Carpenter’s modifications are relatively modest. These include the occasional transfer of the melodic line from string to woodwinds and the addition of timpani to climaxes. The remaining movements require varying degrees of work to bring them to a performable standard, and here the divergences from Cooke’s approach become much more significant. Although some of Carpenter’s ideas are thoughtful and imaginative, others result in an orchestral palette that is highly atypical of Mahler’s style. Indeed, some passages have a warmth and vivacity that sounds more akin to Korngold than Mahler. Another controversial aspect of Carpenter’s approach is his seemingly random use of quotations from other Mahler symphonies, a notable example being the appearance of the rhythmic pattern from the opening of the Seventh Symphony shortly after the start of the finale.

David Zinman, in the final release of his Mahler cycle, provides a straightforward interpretation of Carpenter’s edition, alive to the exuberance of the orchestration but avoiding giving it undue prominence. The Tonhalle Orchestra tackles the complexities of the score with considerable panache, and the flute solo in the finale receives a lovely performance, even if the result is undermined by Carpenter’s over fussy harmonisation at this point. If there are times when a greater degree of emotional thrust might have helped make a stronger case for Carpenter’s approach, Zinman nevertheless provides an authoritative account of the score.

The recording is clear and well balanced, although the UK release is available only as a standard CD. Previous releases in Zinman’s Mahler cycle have been made available hybrid CD/SACDs. The cover makes no reference to the version of the symphony being used, which is remiss given the differences between Carpenter and the other performing editions. The booklet note provides an overview of the Tenth Symphony in general terms but is limited in terms of information about the Carpenter edition. It also suggests that Zinman has made further changes of his own, although what these might be is not explained further.

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