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Mahler - Symphony No 2 Hybrid SACD

3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Budapest Festival Orchestra
  • Conductor: Iván Fischer
  • Composer: Gustav Mahler
  • Audio CD (28 Aug. 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Hybrid SACD
  • Label: Channel Classics
  • ASIN: B000GPIBOG
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,551 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)


Product Description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Colin Fortune VINE VOICE on 11 Nov. 2006
Format: Audio CD
I have only heard this using ordinary CD equipment but I imagine that the SACD is very fine indeed. First, the sound. The huge problem with Mahler 2 is that the end is so magnificent and so loud that most recordings have to be compressed or turned down by the engineers in the final two minutes or so. Not surprising when you consider that this is a work that has to be heard in a good hall to make its impact - organ, huge brass section, clanging bells, bass drum thwacks, tam-tam rolls and so on. This recording copes magnificently, but therein lies the problem for ordinary home reproduction. The dynamic range of the recording is from quietest whisper of sound to wonderfully contained roar! The best results, therefore, come from turning up the volume louder than you might normally, marvelling at the delicacy of much of the soft playing (and there is a large amount of very quiet music in this symphony too) and then holding on during the climaxes. This does not work too well if you have near neighbours and I suppose that if you are a solitary listener then headphones might be the answer, which is a shame because the feeling of being towards the back of a fine hall is lost (remember, I have only heard CD playback but am told that SACD immerses you even more deeply in the music). One thing about listening on headphones is that one gets a sharper than usual sense of three-dimensional sound.

The orchestra play magnificently and the slides and portamenti in the strings are delightfully managed. Percussion sounds amazingly natural, woodwind is well characterised and the brass is very fine indeed. The offstage effects in the last movement are at the most extreme distance and have you listening with almost painful concentration.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Klingsor Tristan VINE VOICE on 8 Sept. 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's amazing the results that can be obtained simply by doing exactly what is asked for in the score. No-one was more precise in the detailed instructions he gave conductor and players than Mahler. And Ivan Fischer with his Budapest forces is more meticulous than anyone else in my experience at following this great score in all its details. The results are breathtaking.

Let me illustrate from the very beginning of the symphony. The third phrase in cellos and basses is marked accelerando: like Rattle, Fischer does this just judiciously enough to make the point. A few bars later, the bassoons reinforce the first notes of each bar of triplets: they are marked ff to the strings single f and Fischer allows them just enough prominence to stand clear. At the first appearance of the Second Subject, the horns' counterpoint is marked ppp to the violins pp; at the second appearance they are marked pp to the violins ppp. Fischer observes that, too. The numerous glissandi scattered throughout the score, especially in the second movement, are all there - proper glisses, not just touched in portamenti. I could go on!

Then there is the care in instrumental balance that Fischer always takes. More often than not bass drum, tam-tams and glockenspiel are touched in just enough to provide the colour needed, not to stand out: one is hardly aware of their presence until they actually stop playing - although the tams-tams provide some awe-inspiring crashes when appropriate. In louder passages the piccolo(s) often give a touch of strident glitter to the violins (a very characteristic Mahler trait). And I love the way in which the contrabassoon just adds a little buzz to some of the brass chorales in the final movement.

Fischer is ably aided and abetted by his engineers, too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Christopher Harris VINE VOICE on 28 Nov. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm not an expert on Mahler but I found this performance very moving. The recording is first class and the performance is excellent.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 21 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Mahler's Universe Realized 8 Dec. 2006
By Lawrence A. Schenbeck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am not a blind-eyed, totally rabid fan of Ivan Fischer's work. Loved his Bartok series, hated his recent Tchaikovsky Fourth. That said, I concur with the other positive reviews here. This Mahler Second is enormously effective, heartfelt because it's never over-the-top. You catch the subtle things, the ironies, the humor, the innocence of the folk poetry, and much more. And the final movement really does become APOCALYPTIC. It's the most terrifying depiction of the Last Trump, etc., etc., ever composed, and (with this recording) ever put on disc. This is partly the nature of the Super Audio CD recording process, with its unbelievably wide dynamic range and these engineers' ability to capture, as someone said, the big and little tam-tams, the church bells, all the phenomenal detail Mahler builds into it.

Which is not to emphasize technical matters over musical ones. Fischer and his forces are unfailingly musical and expressive -- the briefest instrumental solos are handled with aplomb and real character, the tuttis are stunning. It's all shaped by a man who knows how to make Mahler's universe palpable for 21st-century audiences.

Get this, and go get yourself an SACD player so you can hear every last bit of it. (Although I suspect that even the Redbook CD version captures what's essential.)
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A curious case 4 Oct. 2010
By George Masi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
After having read all of the reviews here I was surprised to find myself tending more toward a negative appraisal if this recording.

There is on this page, in the main, such high enthusiasm for Mr. Fischer's view of this piece and such praise for the engineering of the recording
that, although I have never done so before, I feel the need to add my words to the aggregate.

In the face of all of the crucial elements which are necessary to fully convey a great musical work such as this, it's a struggle for a solitary listener
such as I to give satifactory expression to the actual experience of the work in performance with regard to his own conception of a totally involving
and moving presentation.

With this recorded performance I am faced with the curious case of a highly competant technically polished performance in which everything is present
but the whole doesn't really speak. Tempi are quite slow in all, and there are rubati within phrases to the extent of halting any real sense of forward motion and demolishing any possibility of pulse and coherance.

What does occur is an assemblage of parts which never make up a whole, and never reach the core.

The recording presents a perspective on the orchestra which is oddly distant and homgenized so that the dialogues among the instruments becomes suffused
in a miasma of "large orchestra and chorus" sound. Precisely where is the listener in this musical space?

This is not a terribly bad performance/recording...just a rather neutral realization which may suffice for those who have not heard performances of this piece by
Klemperer, Walter, or Bernstein. The recordings made by those three are utterly riveting; one's attention simply cannot wander as it does, sadly, with the current
example.
54 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Where's the Fire? 22 Jan. 2007
By Eric J. Matluck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a dissenting opinion, a review of a performance that was not to my taste. I'm not going to bash it because I don't think it's a bad or actively offensive performance of Mahler's work, but I do find it lacking in too many of the elements that to me are essential to a satisfying interpretation of this music.

When I first discovered Mahler's symphonies, at the time I was in college, they were through the performances by Bernard Haitink, which had been held in very high esteem in certain quarters but taken to task for being too "sane" in others. These interpretations were seen as the antithesis of Leonard Bernstein's overtly (or overly) emotive ones. I've never developed a stomach for Bernstein's Mahler, though it has many, many adherents. Given that, I expected that a more objective interpretation, which I'd read Ivan Fischer provides, would be to my liking. But I think his reading is far too low-keyed and underpowered to generate even the excitement that Haitink's could, not to mention Bernstein's. When I found myself longing for some of the throat-grabbing emotionalism that Lenny could bring, I knew something was amiss.

To me the difficulties began at the first bar. Rather than a stirring held chord, what I heard sounded weak. There was no fire, no sense of suspense, and the orchestra, as it would throughout the performance, sounded noticeably small. The second theme was quite beautifully played, lovely and radiant, but that loveliness and radiance seemed to inform most of the movement, and this, in my opinion, is not music that should sound pretty. The second movement, on the other hand, which presents one of Mahler's simplest and most beautiful melodies, seemed overinterpreted. The music never flowed but sounded micromanaged bar by bar. As I told a friend of mine, I had to rely on my memory of this music to follow what was being played. The scherzo struck me as dull, with none of the sinister or even ironic quality that seems so much a part of it. That's where my first listen ended. Then, out of curiosity and fairness, I gave it another spin. No better. The "Urlicht" was sung beautifully enough, but it didn't tug at my heart the way it has in other performances, and the finale seemed no more apocalyptic than a barbershop glee until the final pages that, for me, were ruined by overprominent percussion, turning the piece into a spectacle through which it lost any sense of spiritual transcendence.

Criticism is a tricky thing. Everybody has his or own life experiences that shape his or her taste, so what satisfies one will not necessarily satisfy another. This recording has garnered praise from many quarters, and I wish I could add to that praise, but I can't. Delicate, refined, and polite when it's not sounding vulgar and manipulative, this is not a performance I can endorse.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Polite Mahler, Astounding Sonics 24 Jan. 2012
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 'The Resurrection' has become a staple of the orchestral repertoire throughout the world. The reason is clear: in addition to Mahler's dealing with the meaning of life in the first movements he provides a final movement that ranks along with the Verdi Requiem and Schoenberg's Gurrelieder as some of the most glorious choral/orchestral/soloists writing in the literature. Even a routine performance of this work can stir the soul, so inspiring is the last chorus and the sheer might of the orchestral writing. This listener has heard many performances of the work and had the good fortune to sing in the chorus for some and all approaches to the score - from literal dissection to don't-miss-a-note-or-a-rhythmic-change to the overly dramatic/operatic - and all have memorable moments. The current Mahler Project in Los Angeles with Gustavo Dudamel conducting all of the symphonies alternating the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra from Venezuela (and combining all forces for the mighty 8th) finds Dudamel very much at home with Mahler now: his performance of the Resurrection was easily the most moving experience musically in years - delicate here, dancing there, sensitive, and ultimately building to a cataclysmic triumph of a Finale. with every note in place and every phrase caressed with amazing clarity.

And then there is the other side of the Mahler 2nd, that polite but exceedingly well conducted performance here with Ivan Fischer conducting the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Hungarian Radio Choir and soloists Lisa Milne and Birgit Remmert. Everything is in place, tidily polished, with exceptional attention to phrasing and detail all building to a magnificent reading of the Mahler-embellished Klopstock Hymn. It all works very very well and there are no areas to truly criticize. Many could find this performance toward the uninvolving end of the scale, but those thoughts are banished in the final movement. The wonder here - and the reason to add this to the library no matter how many versions you may already own - is the brilliance of the engineering. The sonics are absolutely breathtaking, from the quietest moments to the explosion of the finale. It must be heard to understand and appreciate just what fine recording can be. This is a memorable recording and one to examine carefully for all the intricacies that it holds in approaching Mahler's genius. Grady Harp, January 12
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Hat's Off - A Winner for the 21st Century 30 Oct. 2006
By Hannibal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is an absolutely fabulous performance of Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony.....For those of you lucky enough to have heard this same conductor and orchestra in Rachmaninov's Second Symphony, you will find an equal poise and sensitivity here, beautiful and moving in extraordinary sound - such as one finds particularly in SACD recordings, and if the final movement doesn't lift you to the proverbial heavens, you'd better get your ears checked!

Let me add that Fischer brings great drama to this magnificent work, and if hardly challenging early Bernstein for sturm und drang along the way, there are thrills a plenty, easily besting the overly-praised Rattle version for example. To be fair, Fischer's orchestra does not fully equal the Berlin Philharmonic in heft and ensemble, but the solo parts are even more exquisite here, and many details far more ravishing than you have ever heard before.

Even if you are still not the proud owner of an SACD player, listening to this in just plain stereo will give you such pleasure, you'll play it again and again, grateful for what you do hear now in anticipation of what you will hear later when SACD will reveal the full glory of this stupendous performance.
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