Monday, May 17, 2010

Wyn Morris conducts Mahler's tenth

The conductor who might have been – Wyn Morris, born in1929, died last February. His career was marked by sensational conducting combined with his utter inability to manage his relations with others. Time and time again he managed to squander the advantages that opened up - he scuppered a recording deal that was offered to him by negotiating one with another recording company (neither, apparently materialised) and threatened legal action in the most bizarre of circumstances. You can read a fascinating obituary here.

His recording of Mahler's songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn with Janet Baker and Geraint Evans are the stuff of legend, and have been available almost continuously since they were recorded by a small and short-lived label. They were subsequently released by Decca, then by another small independent company, then by Nimbus.

However, he came to my attention as the man to record Deryck Cooke's second revised performing version of Mahler's tenth symphony for Philips. It appeared on two LPs but, young and Mahler-crazed as I was, I promptly shelled out and bought it. I think I played the LPs into oblivion over the next year. It was a work that fascinated me and there was not a moment of Morris's interpretation that didn't seem exactly right.

Philips didn't release the recording on CD, much to my surprise. So here, as a tribute to one of the oddest members of an odd profession, is an LP transfer - not mine, and not the work of the friend who passed it on to me.

Download from Rapidshare mp3, 192k


  1. R- Thanks for the information and the link to the obituary of Wyn Morris --- I have often wondered what his story was. I have several recordings by him --- the Beethoven Fourth Concerto with Charles Rosen is excellent. I also think I have some Mahler, although not the Tenth. The question now is --- do I break my vow to never listen to the 'completed' Mahler 10th (or Bruckner 9th) for that matter and check out what sounds like a very interesting recording? I am going to download it and decide later! (Nearly 30 years ago I decided that the Adagio from the 10th was fine just as it was. I have read a lot about the Cooke reconstruction, as well as some of the others and I just can't bring myself to listen to it. I have Michael Gielen's recording of the Cooke version --- interesting that it was NOT included in the box set of Gielen's Mahler --- and have held on to it in case I have a change of heart.)

    Thanks again for the fascinating story.

  2. The adagio only sets the scene for what follows. The symphony follows a course opposite to that of the ninth and das Lied, and the last movement's closing pages are so filled with life and passion that the image of Mahler fading away in a litany of ewigs is replaced by the realisation that the will to live behind the music is absolute. Looking at the facsimile of the score and listening to Cooke's realisation you have a genuine sense that the music is coming to life. There are other ways of imagining it, true - I think Barshai's version is an example of this - but the various versions all converge on a common ground, which reassures me that it's more Mahler than Cooke.

    I am much less sure about the Bruckner, which sounds, to me, much more unsatisfactory. Remember that Bruckner couldn't get it right, whereas Mahler couldn't get it orchestrated!

    As a Buddhist, I can reassure you: there was no such person as the person who made vows in your name. Listen in peace!


  3. Hi Ronan,

    Most welcome upload on your part! Before I read the Morris obituary, I confess that I did not know much of this highly complicated man. I can understand now that his flaws only strengthened his hand when conducting Mahler.

    Thanks much,


  4. Thanks for this. I saw it a while back and have been meaning to get back to download it. I have the Das Knaben Wunderhorn that you mention: glorious! But then, I am smitten with Janet Baker. I have the Rattle recording of the Cooke's second realization, and while I think I prefer the first version, which I may post in Ormandy's fabulous recording, I'll be interested to see if Wyn Morris will change my mind. Thanks again.

  5. Wyn Morris makes the case for full admittance of the 10th into the Mahler canon. What's more, this performance is one of the greatest performances of Mahler I have ever heard--right up there with Horenstein's 8th and Klemperer's 9th. It is a scandal that this recording is unavailable on CD. Rattle's versions don't hold a candle to this one. Thanks for posting this extraordinary LP.