on 25 May 2011
I have several recordings of Mahler's 2nd Symphony but this completely eclipses all of them. On first hearing it I was absolutely astounded by the depth of emotion conveyed by this wonderful performance -- I was reduced to tears at the finale. I have never experienced a recording like this, I was hearing instruments at a new level; Tennstedt has given me an insight to Mahler that I had not known before. If you like his music, then this terrific recording is simply not to be missed. Thank you Claus Tennstedt and the London Philharmonic!
on 9 March 2010
I thoroughly agree with the other commentators of this stunning performance and recording. I was very fortunate to hear Klaus Tennstedt and the LPO and chorus perform Mahler 2 at the Royal Festival Hall during the early 1980's. I was hoping that magnificent performance might make it on to CD. However, this recording is akin to a dream come true! May I say first of all it is very moving and revealing in detail. Mahler 2 has been well served on disc however this has to go to the top of the list. Klaus Tennstedt's studio Mahler 2 is good but this live version far outstrips it in terms of performance and recording. Much praise and gratitude has to go to Tony Faulkner the sound engineer and his associates. The finale is amazing and certainly outstrips the much overhyped reviews by a well known Classical music magazine of Ivan Fischer's rendition on Channel Classics. The soloists and choir are exemplary. At last we are rewarded with a realistic organ sound that many recordings fail to convey. I could go on indefinitely about this jewel of a recording. I will conclude this review by honouring the memory of a great Mahlerian, Klaus Tennstedt, who loved the LPO and Chorus and who in turn played and sang out their hearts for him. If you love the Music of Gustav Mahler then this recording is a must....truly a Ten Star rating and at the asking price a give away!
on 23 June 2014
There should be two categories of reviews available for classicial music: reviews for aficionados of the particular piece, comparing the specific recording to others in their collection (these are far and away the more common, unfortunately), and reviews for general punters like me who are broadening their musical education and want to know what the music is like.
Well, this is a type 2 review. I was very impressed, and have started exploring the Late Romantics since.The lyricism reminded me of Wagner without most of the singing, although there are very pleasant vocals in the 4th and 5th movements. The moods change from movement to movement as they would even in a strictly classical symphony, but the title of the piece and the sub-titles of the movements make it clear that this is a very philosophical work about life and death and the conclusions that Mahler draws.
When it comes to interpretation I nearly always prefer conductors to stick to the instructions on the page albeit with as much added insight and poetry without taking any liberties. Whn it comes to Mahler I'm more likely to rave about an Ivan Fischer performance than one by Leonard Bernstein. Despite that I was impressed by nearly all the reviews and decided to try Tennstedt's live performance recording of the Resurrection Symphony. On the face of it the timings suggested it would a leaden footed performance, perhaps like Rattle's rather flat and over polished approach. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Firstly: yes the sound for this 1989 recording is remarkably vivid but well balanced. I've nothing to add to the other views on that. The timings are deceptive and tell you nothing about the twists and turns that Tennstedt takes the music on as he slows and quickens the music at the many key dramatic points. The first movement is a case in point where his liberties with tempos are quite extreme but the climaxes are speeded up. The performance is of great intensity throughout and you never doubt the rightness of Tennstedt's conception of the piece. The second movement, normally treated as a bit of light relief after the opening funeral movement, is given a weight and depth I've never heard before. In his previous studio recording of the symphony Tennstedt took a full minute longer over the fourth movement but this quicker tempo is more effective even if it is hardly rushed. The finale is one of the longest, time-wise, but the tensions and drama are vividly executed throughout.
The performance is quite electrifying an done thing to note is despite the generally slow tempos the playing has real bite and attack from the start. It's a great tribute to orchestra, soloists, choir and recording engineers. It's worth noting that the same ensemble had performed the same piece days before with quite different tempos apparently so this is an extraordinary effort with everyone buying fully into Tennstedt's concept of the piece at, it would seem, very short notice - I bet the orchestra hated the rehearsals butt he effort has been richly repaid.
I've heard some very fine performances of the symphony but this is one is the very definition of greatness and keeping a minute's applause at the finish only reminds you what an incredible occasion this must have been for the audience that day. It's worth noting that the audience barely intrude throughout the performance so they must have been ready to explode at the end. Unreservedly then I eat my words about interpretation; here a great conductor really did have something incredible to add to this symphony, with a wonderful support cast. It has been a privilege to hear it.
on 6 May 2015
Mahler's Second is something very special to me. I first heard it in my mid-20's, forcing myself to listen to it every night for two weeks in an exercise to improve my concentration and reduce my insecurity over not knowing anything about classical music. Of course, I hated it at first. But as each motif subtly worked it's way into my memory, I became completely hooked. I came to understand that, for me at least, there was a beauty in Mahler's symphonies that surpassed anything I'd ever heard. That initial 'hard work' of absorbing each motif into my mind added more joy with every subsequent listen, and then finally I reached the point where I'd found something that transcended so far above anything labeled 'music' I'd ever heard. From then on, I would be taken on an emotional journey and left crying at the sheer beauty and power of the final movements.
So it would be fair to say that I quite like Mahler's Second.
In the 15 years since I've heard many recorded versions with all sorts of variations in performance and acoustics. I'd read a lot of positive reviews and comments about this particular recording, so I had to give it a listen. I have a favourite three and am always open to finding a fourth, but I was not expecting it to add anything major to the experience.
I was wrong.
I'm not a 'proper' classical music buff with the ability to use jargon, so I'll just say I'm absolutely blown away by both the quality of the recording and the performance. Every second is bliss, and tears were rolling down my cheeks long before the final movements. This recording is also the first I've heard in which the power, emotion and beauty is sustained right through the second half of the last movement, all of which makes the finale almost unbearably overwhelming.
I'm 40. It's been over fifteen years since I first fell in love with the Second. And yet I've heard a new recording which left me sobbing and full of an almost unbearable joy like nothing I've heard before.
In short? This is absolutely essential for anyone who shares the love for Mahler's Second, and, in my opinion, anyone yet to discover it.
on 22 June 2011
Being slightly skeptical about the glowing reviews of Tennstedt's Mahler, I first purchased his live 8th for a proper recording - and boy was I blown away. That is for another review though, but the important thing is that it lead me on to buy this (along with the glowing reviews here).
I must say that I have often been deeply moved by music, and even sometimes reduced to tears. However, this is the only piece / recording that has ever put tears in my eyes AFTER it was over. The emotional scope is magnificent, the entire recording is full of tension and depth. And the last few minutes are, to my ears, the most perfect piece of music ever penned by man.
The only annoying thing is that the LPO Live label hasn't released all of Tennstedt's live Mahler symphonies (if he did record any more).
This is my favourite piece of music - and the best recording of it.
on 1 August 2010
I second everything that all previous reviewers have said about this recording - it is one of the most powerful performances of any Mahler symphony I have heard. Before buying this recording, I owned the old Klemperer EMI and a rare release of Barbirolli and the Berlin Phil on Testament - both of these recordings are marvelous in their own ways, Klemperer for his driven, stark and unsentimental reading, Barbirolli for that special warmth that only he could bring to Mahler. The LPO and Tennstedt however are in another league. Recorded live in Feb 1989, this recording not only has amazing sound quality (you can really hear the inner details of Mahler's orchestration - more so than in the Klemperer or Rattle recordings), but also sounds 'natural', considering the restrictions of the acoustic from the old Royal Festival Hall.
By looking at the timings of each movement, you may think that it is stretched just a bit too much. All I can say is - IGNORE timings - they tell you nothing whatsoever about how dynamic and colourful a performance can be. I once heard a comment that 'the wrong tempo in the right hands can work', simply because of the genuine conviction that the conductor and players bring to the performance. (By 'wrong', I think the person meant 'unconventional', whatever that is...!) Anyway, that's irrelevant here. The LPO play superbly - creating an amazingly rapt tone in the strings when needed, and tremendous bite and articulation in the wind and brass - it made me think that they really were a world-class orchestra under Tennstedt. Just listen to the closing few minutes of the 1st movement - the amazing portamento in the strings will melt your heart - in fact there are several places in the symphony where Tennstedt gets the strings to play in an 'older' style, employing more portamento and rubato than you usually hear in recordings since the 1960s. Yet the LPO also produces a deliberately rugged sound when needed - sometimes I think many performances of Mahler nowadays are just too polite, as though conductors are afraid to confront the demons in the basement.
For me, Tennstedt's interpretation of the 1st, 2nd and 5th movements are a revelation (the 3rd and 4th are also fantastic, but perhaps a bit more predictable). Unless you know Tennstedt's way with Mahler, you really won't know where the tempo is going, such is his bar-to-bar control over proceedings. Occasionally you might feel that a few places don't work, but hey, that's the risk of live performance and that's what we all live for!
In short - stunning, sublime and revelatory. Need I say more?
on 10 September 2010
All of this is true! I have been collecting recordings of Mahler Symphonies for years and this one is in a very special class. I won't be throwing away my Klemperer, because it is so different, but Rattle, Bernstein, Abbado, forget them all. One day this will be reckoned a classic of all recording history. Very very moving indeed. Don't listen without a big box of tissues! You have been warned!
on 6 March 2010
There must have been some anxious moments at the British Geological Survey on the night of February 20th 1989 as this cataclysmic account of Mahler's Symphony No.2 unfolded at the Festival Hall in London. Never mind five stars; this performance should be measured on the Richter Scale.
Unlike the other reviewer, I wasn't lucky enough to be there on the night but I have been hoping and praying that a live Tennstedt Resurrection would appear soon on either the LPO's own label or BBC Legends. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would be as good as this.
I can't remember ever being so startled or moved by a performance of a work I know so well. Through his instrumental phrasing and tempos Tennstedt seems to bring out more of the tragedy, tension and nobility in this music than anyone else I've heard. The second movement Andante Moderato in particular is a real ear-opener with an extraordinary array of string tone but a slight emphasis towards the lower strings. This completely changes the mood of the music from the slightly sentimental interlude we are used to hearing to something altogether more bitter. In fact, it is not until the fourth movement Urlicht that we achieve the first sense of relief and it becomes the true turning point of the symphony that Mahler intended. It's utterly hypnotic and beautifully sung by Jard Van Nes, even if her rich, smoky voice does just run out of puff on the last word due to Tennstedt's broad and taxing tempo.
And so to the mighty finale. At 39 minutes it's even longer than Bernstein's NYPO recording on DG. In fact, timings are pretty similar throughout and this new release is one of the longest on record. The LPO (who play like gods throughout the entire work, by the way) really unleash all hell in the first part of this movement and the power and depth of their sound is both incredibly satisfying and more than a little unnerving. The brass and percussion are superbly caught in rich, weighty sound and in even more detail than EMI managed for Rattle or DG did for Abbado in Lucerne. For all the splendour of sound, however, the hushed pauses are just as rewarding as they really let you feel the tension and expectation of the capacity audience which is stunned to virtual silence throughout the concert. The choral singing on Tennstedt's EMI recording was always a bit woolly and disappointing; here it's sharp and very cleanly focussed, with Yvonne Kenny's regal soprano floating out to find a natural-sounding position just in front of the chorus with Van Nes. Their final duet is amongst the best on record and has both beauty and stature. As Tennstedt sweeps us towards the end on an enormous tidal wave of choral and orchestral sound (and with an unscored cymbal crash, to which I'll turn a deaf ear!), the RFH's organ kicks in to launch us towards heaven. The final bars are truly spectacular and the hall erupts with the kind of cheer that greets an England try at Twickenham.
This really is the best of all possible worlds. The thrill and emotional clout of Tennstedt's live LPO Mahler on a mid-priced, own-label release but with instrumental precision, A-List soloists and quality of sound that would grace a major-label studio recording. Unlike some recent Tennstedt issues on LPO or BBC Legends, this concert was deliberately recorded in digital sound by professional engineers working at the hall on the night; it's not a remastering of somebody's taped radio broadcast. The fascinating booklet insert explains all.
Having had one prayer answered, I now have another one: to see a live performance as good as this one, just once in my lifetime. I suspect I never will.
on 20 July 2015
This disc was bought on the recommendation of what Tennstedt had done with the same orchestra with Mahler's Symphony No.8, the "Symphony of a Thousand", a glorious piece of music presented in superb sound and which, for this reviewer, became the bench-mark for that symphony. Under Tennstedt and the London PO, Mahler's 2nd. Symphony, "Resurrection", assumes a similar position in the discography.
Once again, superb sound enables the choral sections of the work to be hushed yet audible, the various musical instruments of the orchestra allowed to identify themselves, and the climaxes to the music overwhelming in their power and contrast.Whilst perhaps not having the same status as more recognisable singers in this music, Kenny and van Nes have no need to feel inferior. Their parts are handled with skill and aplomb, with voices that blend well with the musical sound of the orchestra, neither intruding on the other.
All this for a modest asking price for the two discs. Purchasing classical music rarely gets better than this and the CBSO under the baton of Simon Rattle now has to cede the primary place and authority to Tennstedt and the LPO. The latter is to be highly recommended.