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Mahler: Symphony No. 2 'Resurrection' Double CD

13 customer reviews

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Mahler: Symphony No. 2 'Resurrection' + Mahler: Symphony No. 5 + Mahler: Symphony No.1/Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (DG The Originals)
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Product details

  • Performer: Kate Royal, Magdalena Kozená, Rundfunkchor Berlin
  • Orchestra: Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Conductor: Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Gustav Mahler
  • Audio CD (7 Feb. 2011)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B004CVKO86
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,585 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. I. Allegro Maestoso
Disc: 2
1. II. Andante moderato
2. III. In ruhig fliessender Bewegung
3. IV. Urlicht. Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht
4. V. Im Tempo des Scherzos. Wild herausfahrend
5. Wieder sehr breit
6. Ritardando...Maestoso
7. Wieder zurückaltend
8. Langsam. Misterioso
9. Etwas bewegter
10. Mit Aufschwung aber nicht eilen

Product Description

CD Description

Symphony No. 2, The Resurrection Symphony, scored for orchestra, soloists and chorus, tackles the great mysteries of life and death and was already among the most successful and popular of Mahler’s symphonies during his lifetime. Not only was the work premiered by the Berliner Philharmoniker (in 1895) but it is an important work in Simon Rattle’s musical trajectory. The partnership of Sir Simon and the Berliner Philharmoniker Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 portends a ground-breaking new recording.

The concerts on October 28-30, 2010, form part of a Mahlerthon of sorts, in which the Berliner Philharmoniker will have performed all the symphonies over a two year period, between August 2010 and the end of 2011 in commemoration of two Mahler anniversaries: the 150th anniversary of his birth (7 July 2010) and the centenary of his death (18 May 2011).

BBC Review

Sir Simon Rattle has a long and well-documented history with Mahler's symphonies and especially the ‘Resurrection’, having recorded it previously with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. It's tempting to go back and listen to that original recording to establish whether or not any wild, youthful quirks or hoary comforts have snuck into either that one or this brand new one, but ultimately such comparison doesn't reveal exactly how well Rattle and his Rabble handle the work. In many ways the symphony itself is as turbulent and changeable as Rattle's time at the helm of the legendary Berlin Symphony, which makes for an entertaining listen, as changeable and dynamic as any of the composer's best work.

Spreading the work over two discs is perhaps inevitable, but splitting after the very first movement is actually rather canny – Mahler specified that there be a five-minute gap after the movement for the audience to settle down in. Listening to this live performance of the first movement, the audience needed it. The funereal opening yields to incredibly wide contrasts, clattering col legno in the lower strings in particular giving the impression that the 'Resurrection' is something we might never actually arrive at. Throughout, Rattle marshals his players enough to let the schizophrenic terror of the movement have its effect.

With the five-minute gap duly observed, the remainder of the symphony retains the opening's wilful habit of shuddering between extremes. Momentum is paramount in the early stages of the darkly capricious third movement, but the goal is what Mahler called the "death shriek" of the movement. Here, it's given plenty of orchestral clout, but it's the way Rattle encourages the orchestra to die away from it that impresses. Mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozena's careful turn in the concertante-style fourth movement is the only element on the whole disc that could have used a little more eruptive force, but as a moment of calm before the storm of the finale, it's still plainly enjoyable.

Beginning with another iteration of that "death shriek", terror is once again firmly established in the finale, and it's with a glorious sense of impending doom that we are guided through offstage brass fanfares and tittering woodwind. Exultantly we are drawn onward, though, toward the inevitable choral closing section, which is positively heaven-sent when it finally arrives. It's a stretch for any choir to perform it convincingly given the exceptionally wide vocal range, but the tension is so deftly and powerfully built throughout it that it doesn't seem testing at all. Tension is built in a pleasingly covert manner by Rattle, by this point surely convinced that the hard work is over, until the concluding release. It's one of the more climactic endings in the symphonic repertoire, and in Rattle's hands it is supremely thrilling. "Die I shall, so as to live!" so the chorus belts – and it seems that's exactly what was going through their heads.

--Daniel Ross

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. S. CROWE TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 Mar. 2011
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I find my self surprised to be writing a review of this recording in such favourable terms, as I was never as enamoured of Rattle's CBSO recording as many, and I have been distinctly unimpressed with the majority of Rattle's Berlin output both in terms of performance and recording. In the case of the first recording, while it was very good, the critical over-hype especially here in the UK was extraordinary! I have always felt that there was an element of Dr.Johnson's dog dancing on its hind legs about the reaction, especially from those who recalled the dire, dead days of this orchestra under Hugo Rignold when standards seemed to have sunk beyond redemption! The recording was rather muddy, and both soloists were in truth past their best.
Since moving to Berlin, I feel that Rattle has too often succumbed to "Mercedes-Benz" syndrome-performances are beautifully polished, sleekly played-and rather dull. EMI has not triumphed in catching the full impact of the Berlin Philharmonic and STILL have problems with the Philharmonie's acoustic.
I have in particular found Rattle's Berlin Mahler to be particularly dull-I actually gave away my copies of 5 &10. I had not expected to like this recording either, but I was "persuaded" (bullied!) by a friend from Germany to expend the paltry sum for this recording-and I am extremely glad I did. It now joins the pantheon of my favourite "Resurrections", recordings of which I have too many to admit to. Yes, it is softer-grained than some, and if you think that this symphony should be a breakneck adrenaline rush in the manner of Solti, you are not going to like this performance. If, like me, you are looking for something more profound and sensitive, then this recording is a strong contender.
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For Sir Simon Rattle, Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony is sacred ground, as it was the piece that first inspired him to become a conductor. Not only did he go on to become one of the world's most extraordinary musicians, but he developed a long history interpreting the symphony. Now that he is at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic, arguably the world's greatest orchestra, he must be almost in a daze, conducting a piece that evokes strong memories for him with an orchestra that can shock listeners with its skill--and Mahler is a particular strength of theirs. For many, the concern is that everything is so ideal for Rattle that he'll wallow in the strength of the orchestra without adding much new interpretive value.

The very opening of the first movement lets us know that Rattle is at least trying to say something new. It's his slow tempi that will instantly catch the listener's ear. If you want the opening movement to push and pull with fiery intensity, you've come to the wrong place. I'm not sure if Rattle's approach is the most desirable, but within minutes I'm surrounded by sounds that are achingly beautiful. No one can voice like Rattle, certainly not in Mahler. If you're willing to take the time, there's a world of amazing detail waiting. And while Rattle isn't aiming for excitement, he's terrifying; just listen to the climaxes and you'll be knocked off your seat.

Rattle seems to know that balance is important, quickening his pace in the 2nd movement. He's completely satisfying, digging into the music with vigor. This movement provides relief after the portentous preceding movement; Rattle lets it soar. The Berliners are captivating, responding to Rattle's every move with grace and an incomparable expressivity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Simon on 23 Mar. 2012
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I heard Mahler 2nd Symphony live in Berlin last february. This recording allows to share that wonderful experience. Conductor, singers, orchestra, chorus: all performers are at its best
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gordon B Mitchell on 26 Dec. 2013
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I have two other recordings of The Resurrection. This is immeasurably the best and will give us great pleasure over the years
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Feb. 2011
Having been really moved by Rattle's Mahler 2 with the CBSO Mahler: Symphony No. 2 'Resurrection' I was looking forward to this recording, however now that it has arrived and having listened to it I am not so sure. The first thing that strikes is the slow tempi, although overall this recordings is only a little longer than the earlier CBSO, at times this seems ponderous and mannered, even self-conscious.

There is no doubt this is a very polished performance, and the recording quality and the playing are excellent, even more so considering this is a recording of a live performance, but this polish almost seems to count against it, it lacks the bite and thrust one ought to expect from Mahler; it is just a little too comfortable, a little too refined; where is the struggle, the bite? - this is music that in its day shocked, it is hard to imagine that being so on listening to this performance. Furthermore, while the Berlin Philharmonic is excellent, I am not overly impressed by the two soloists.

When I first heard Rattle's earlier performance with the CBSO I was absolutely astonished by it, it came as a revelation, maybe I was expecting too much of this new recording, but it seemed to add little or nothing to the earlier one.

An interesting performance, but for me it will not be taking precedence over Rattle's earlier CBSO recording.
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