Haitink is my hero. I have seen him just once, in the Concertgebouw. It turned out to be one of his last performances. Prices of these performances go sky high, but I wanted to try to see if I really thought it was worth it. And it was. Haitink really can get the orchestra to sing like no one else.
Haitink did Mahler’s third symphony five times during his career. This is the oldest of those five: from 1966. I admit I didn’t hear the later ones, even though I am curious. A conductor can change, but also the orchestra sounds different.
The streaming version is based on a 1988 remastering that didn’t do much good to the original. In this case the LP really does sound better, since the mastering did away with a bit too much of the character of the instruments. It is not difficult to get the record though, so if you have a record player, try it out and compare.
This huge symphony consists of six parts, the fourth and the fifth of which have vocal parts. The fourth is a text from Also sprach Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche. The fifth comes from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Mahler’s inspiration for his first four symphonies. A seventh part was planned, but Mahler decided to put that in the next symphony. There is some similarity in both symphonies in some motifs.
The first part doesn’t fit on one side of the first record of this set. As a result the music is broken in two parts. It doesn’t disturb me however. But that might be because this is the way I know this music the best.