Usually, I'm not easily impressed by Abbado's superb yet tame live recordings made recently, but I was really struck by this incredibly sumptuous and animated live performance by the hand-picked elite musicians of Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Every phrase and every bar is played with utmost commitment and musicality as if each instrument is playing solo in a concerto!
Take for example, the lovely flute part just before the chorus joins, the subtlety and expressiveness of the instrument is simply revelatory, and every other instrument and singer does the same all the way! Even bass and percussion part has extra bite and more character. Anna Larsson and Eteri Gvazava too contribute their deeply moving and heart-felt singing to this monumental performance.
Abbado has firm grip on overall architecture of the symphony, while allowing all musicians freedom to express their part to the full. That creates musical equivalent of High Definition presentation of the work. You will re-discover amazing richness and lavishing colours of this symphony and will marvel at Mahler's genious and vision. The final apotheosis is not the grandest of all recordings (notably Slatkin's larger than life account and Stokowski's gigantic Prom live on BBC Legend), but nobly controlled in such a way that the maximum impact is achieved.
It must have been awe-inspiring occasion for everyone present judging from the eruption of the applause. My only complaint is that it sounds rather all too perfect for real! Coupled with equally awesome account of La Mer.
on 23 April 2011
This is a wonderful rendering of Mahler's 2nd. This live recording has a freshness and lightness of touch that is beautiful, yet those attributes are combined with a magnificent intensity and committment. This performance is enriching, exuding warmth and charity. I grew up with Klemperer's Philharmonia recording and Abbado's Chicago attempt and whilst I have always regarded those two as my benchmark, I now consider this definitive - a recording for the ages.