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Mahler: Symphony No. 2- Resurrection ~ Rattle, Auger, Baker

4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

With its unrestrained, highly personal emotionality, Mahler's music reflects all the extremes of his volatile, complex nature and has always evoked extreme reactions in performers and listeners. Indeed, it seems to encourage conductors to express their own rather than the composer's personality, though Mahler, himself a great conductor, filled his scores with copious, detailed performing instructions. No wonder the enormous Mahler discography presents a fascinating variety of interpretations, starting with the many choices of textural emphasis offered by the very richness of the orchestration. Rattle's approach seems oriented toward external effect and innovation. He highlights Mahler's excessive tendencies with extreme contrasts: dynamics go from whispers to crashes; changes of mood and character are highlighted by long pauses; his textural priorities are highly unusual. The first movement (which has a disc to itself) is emphatic, often explosive, the great dissonant climax drawn out to the utmost; the march in the finale is truly infernal, ferocious, theatrical. However, the singers bring warmth and inwardness into the performance: Janet Baker, though her voice has lost some of the bloom of her incomparable 1965 recording under Klemperer, sings with moving simplicity and devout passion; Arleen Auger's voice floats with angelic purity. The choral ending has a broad, sweeping, all-out grandeur. --Edith Eisler

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Symphony No. 2 In C Minor ('Resurrection'): Allegro maestoso

Disc: 2

  1. Symphony No. 2 ('Resurrection'): Andante Moderato
  2. Symphony No. 2 ('Resurrection'): In ruhig fliessender bewegung
  3. Symphony No. 2 ('Resurrection'): Urlicht. Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht
  4. Symphony No. 2 ('Resurrection'): Im Tempo des Scherzos. Wild herausfahrend
  5. Symphony No. 2 ('Resurrection'): Wieder sehr breit
  6. Symphony No. 2 ('Resurrection'): Ritardando...Maestoso
  7. Symphony No. 2 ('Resurrection'): Wieder zuruckhaltend
  8. Symphony No. 2 ('Resurrection'): Langsam. Misterioso
  9. Symphony No. 2 ('Resurrection'): Etwas bewegter
  10. Symphony No. 2 ('Resurrection'): Mit Aufschwung aber nicht eilen

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Gustav Mahler, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
  • Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle
  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B000002RPF
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,481 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I love this recording, and in so many ways it is simply spectacular: the gripping opening notes (some feel it too flaccid and not "sharp" enough because Rattle does not hit the diminuendo right away, but it doesn't bother me), the slow, "inquisitive" passage in the basses and celli at the start of the development that seems to be wordlessly wondering something aloud, the truly thunderous first movement climax, the beautifully-felt second movement, the gorgeous brass and hushed singing of the "Urlicht." There are many more examples. But the review below me who says Rattle sometimes loses sight of the overall structure is onto the disc's biggest flaw. This Resurrection doesn't build inevitably towards the resurrection, and I find the last bars, the organ, the chorus, the redemption, underwhelming. There are other recordings that at this point bring actual tears to my eyes. Tears of joy. This recording never has, and I think it's because the last movement is too detached, too clinical. I feel as if Rattle is observing this climactic part of the music from a distance rather than being a participant in the music-making. The choir too is strangely recessed and indistinct, and this effects the emotional impact of the finale. For exampe, while Mehta's recording overall isn't as technically perfect in my opinion (technically both in terms of orchestral technique and recording technique) there's something about it that makes emotions well up--the slow build that leads to redemption in the fouth movement tells you "something wondrous is about to happen." Same with Bernstein (though he seems to try harder and accomplish less), Klemperer and Haitink. There is *humanity* there, whereas here there is the Mahler 2nd under a microscope.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
I've been a Mahler devotee for most of my life, and this is one of my favorite works of his. I have publically performed two of the Lieder from which Mahler borrowed material for this symphony ("Urlicht" and "St. Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt"), and have written several analysis papers on Mahler's early works. I am also a member of the International Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft. It is not without careful consideration, then, when I say that this is absolutely the finest recording of Mahler's Second available, certainly the finest of the five that I own.
Some folks will insist on the flamboyant, over-romanticized Bernstein/NYP or the technically stunning Solti, but neither has the insight into Mahler's music and soul that Rattle does, and neither performance tops this on technical merits either. This is a recording of Mahler, not of some conductor's ego. Bernstein's Mahler, for example, is a whining young Werther, drooping over every jot and tittle, while Solti's Mahler is full of bombast and pomp. The real Gustav Mahler was neither; he was a complex, tortured philosopher and an exacting, demanding artist and conductor.
Rattle refuses to fall victim to the common, offensive trap of re-creating Mahler in his own image, and, in this refreshingly honest and technically brilliant reading, shows us the real Mahler. Five stars does not do this work justice; neither does the Rosette awarded it in the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs.
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Format: Audio CD
This recording continues to generate high praise, and for good reason. This is one of Rattle's finer Mahler recordings. I was lucky enough to hear him perform this piece live (with the Philadelphia Orchestra) and it was an overwhelming experience, much like this document.
Other versions of the Mahler "Resurrection" I admire are those by Bernstein (with the NY Philharmonic), Chailly (with the Concertgebouw), and the late Sinopoli, whose complete Mahler cycle with the Philharmonia remains a favorite.
But Rattle places his own stamp on the piece, for example in the gigantic unison descending scale that closes the first movement. No one has taken this passage at such a broad, deliberate tempo, and the effect has an earth-shaking finality.
The soloists are excellent, the chorus in the final section sounds radiant, and the City of Birmingham orchestra is at its best throughout the symphony. This project was recorded not long after Rattle began his partnership with these outstanding musicians, and the match was clearly a good one.
Until Rattle records the piece again, hopefully with the Berlin Philharmonic, this CD remains highly competitive.
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Format: Audio CD
Mahler supposedly tied his First and Second Symphonies together thematically. The story goes that the "hero" of the First Symphony descends to his grave in the funereal first movement of the Second Symphony (this first movement, which began as a symphonic poem called "Todtenfeier", dates from 1888, around the same time Mahler composed his First Symphony). Not only that, in a letter of 1900 Mahler claimed that the First Symphony finds its total resolution only in the Second. So here stands another example of the continuity and interdependence of Mahler's works.

In the Second Symphony, after the "hero" is laid to rest (First Movement), there is a reminiscence of the joys of the fleshy and corporeal world (Second and Third Movements), followed by the Last Judgment and the Resurrection (Fourth and Fifth Movements). The symphony is bookended by two enourmous movements: the First (on this disc almost 24 minutes long) and the Fifth (here divided up into seven small and distinct sections that run more than a half hour; some recordings also break down the other movements into smaller sections which can make for a huge track list: e.g., Berstein's well known recording has 25 tracks!). These movements contain the meat of this symphony and represent death and rebirth respectively. Likewise, each of these important movements contain their own dramatic conclusions. Both have rather salient openings as well. The First snakes ominously forward and the Fifth begins with an earth-shattering bang (much like the final movement of his First Symphony) that builds up to the finale. In the manner of other Mahler symphonies, the Second was constructed from pieces previously composed and fit together with new material to make an organic whole.
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