on 2 February 2009
There are some great recordings of the Resurrection Symphony. I've always loved the way Klemperer conducted the second movement and I'm enjoying Kubelik's seemingly more romantic approach at the moment. The recent DVD of Abbado and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra leaves you thinking it can't be bettered. But this one has thrilled me more than any other: it's very rhythmic and vivid. The orchestra sounds fantastic - it roars and soars and shimmers - and I've heard exciting little details that I've never noticed before, even in Rattle's account. It's partly the recording: this one works so well in both the loud and quiet passages. I don't come across many of Abbado's older recordings, but this is a nice reminder that he was a very special conductor even in the 1970s.
on 28 October 2005
My first encounter with this recording of the Mahler Second was in the listening library at Brandeis, and I'm sure the rest of the room thought I was insane. (I tend to get into the music a bit...) Marilyn Horne's "Urlicht" is enough reason to get this recording in the first place, but what a pity it would be to miss the other seventy-five minutes! As would be expected, Abbado leads the symphony in an appropriately operatic fashion. The first movement "Totenfeier" is appropriately martial and Germanic without being overly weighty. The contrasts between the percussive march and lyrical "Pastorale" sections are marked, but executed seamlessly. The second movement, often considered to be a good deal less exciting than those that surround it, leaves itself suspended slightly on every note so that you absolutely MUST hear what follows. The Scherzo is snarling at points, lyric at others, until it erupts in a violent finish. Enter Ms. Horne with the "Urlicht" or "First Light" from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. When I first listened to this, the tears kept streaming down my face well into the next movement, which alternates Armageddon/Resurrection like no other. Particularly effective are two parts: the long percussion crescendo before the c minor march, and the suspended "Last Trumpet" before the choir enters with the hymn "Aufersteh'n" of Klopstock. This is where Abbado's operatic conducting shines; the voices are always primary with exquisite orchestral coloring that never overtakes the soloists as is very possible in Mahler. The end is slow, exultant, and sublime.Lest you forget that this set also includes an entire other symphony! (the fourth) Von Stade's "Himmlisches Leben" is just as serene and pure as any boy soprano's, although it does lack the eerie quality that only a young boy can give to the part. The rest of the fourth is lustrous, including a very slow, very marvelous third movement and a haunting second.
on 14 November 2012
In my opinion the Abbado Mahler symphonies with the CSO and VPO , come across much better than the later Berlin cycle .
These are both very good performances , and stand up there with my other favourites of the Second ( Solti/CSO and LSO, Haitink/CSO , Gielen/Baden-Baden ), and Fourth ( Fischer/BFSO , Reiner/CSO , Levine/CSO , and Kubelik/BayernRundfunks).
Highly recommended , particularly at the price it can be bought for usually.