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Mahler: Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection"

March 30, 2010 | Format: MP3

$15.99
Song Title
Time
Popularity  
30
1
25:00
Disc 2
30
1
12:10
30
2
11:23
30
3
6:13
30
4
21:17
30
5
7:51
30
6
9:58
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Format: Audio CD
Usually, I'm not one for 'legendary recordings'. I've heard one too many of those where the reputation was rather more spectacular than the actual music-making. Myth-making is rife among classical music aficionado's... I am also somewhat puzzled by the posthumous veneration for Klaus Tennstedt, whose 'official' Mahler cycle on EMI had a generally tepid reception, rightly so in my opinion, excepting, of course, his justly famous Eighth. Years after his untimely death the BBC unearthed a recording of Mahler's Seventh that was released in their dangerously named 'legendary recordings' series and became something of an 'insiders tip', though on listening I found very little of note in it.

But this recording of the mighty Resurrection is a different story altogether. It is conceived on the most grandiose scale imaginable, but weds sheer majesty to depth of feeling in an unprecedented way. Rubato is at times extreme, but while I found it definitely eccentric on one or two occasions, in general it is thoroughly musical and well-considered. Indeed, the great strength of this reading is that it gives you the feeling that every note and every passage was deeply and thoroughly considered. There is no padding, there are no dull spots, and while every detail is spot-on, the slow build-up to the soaring climax is never lost from view either. All this is captured in sound of the highest quality, rich, transparent, detailed and powerful, and while recorded live there is hardly an audible trace of the audience on either disc. They must have been awe-struck. It is hard to imagine that this is a one-off concert recording.

The first movement is taken in a deliberate tempo that fits its maestoso character very well.
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Format: Audio CD
Once Mahler ceased to be a rarity, it was time for the next phase, in which conductors could begin to more deeply interpret his music. Sadly, few have risen to the challenge. Even provincial orchestras can negotiate the once formidable Mahler Second, yet it's hard to think of a recording as inspired as the one from Bernstein and the NY Phil. recorded almost fifty years ago. Here is a magnificent exception, however, a live reading from 1989 at London's Royal Festival Hall. Tennstedt was a great original -- one of the last -- and his every gesture is full of spontaneous feeling. Nothing here is standard. Tennstedt is so comfortable in Mahler's world that he phrases with absolute freedom, telling us a story we haven't heard before, even though the 'Resurrection' Sym. is now as familiar as the Beethoven Fifth.

Literalists won't be happy -- tempos fluctuate by the moment, as do dynamics. It takes a masterful hand not to turn this into a free-for-all. Instead, Tennstedt keeps you waiting in fascination for his next mood. In general, many moments are tender and reflective, so this isn't a reading for thrills, but how fresh the first movement sounds, liberated from its usual role as a lugubrious funeral march. Tennstedt finds something new around every corner. The devoted London Phil. plays with much more freedom than on their EMI studio recording of this work under Tennstedt, and despite Royal Festival Hall's weak bass response, the recording is close up, clear and detailed, with no obvious flaws.

I'm tempted to say nothing more and leave the whole recording as a surprise. A few impressions will suffice.
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By pekinman on September 18, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There are no words to do justice to the impact this performance of Mahler's 2nd Symphony had on me. This is a symphony I have listened to on recording hundreds of times and I have never been so emotionally wiped out by it before. This was not all that surprising coming from Klaus Tennstedt who is unjustifiably considered a luke-warm conductor of Mahler's great symphonies. I collected his EMI recordings back in the late 70s and early 80s, a uniformly beautifully recorded series, some of the best EMI ever did, and beautifully executed with fine soloists and the London Philharmonic at its peak. Some of those recordings were not as enthralling as others, the 2nd Symphony being one of the them that slightly disappointed.

All is forgiven with this stupendous, deeply moving and utterly beautiful performance captured live by the BBC. Tennstedt makes the first movement totally beautiful, the phrasing is out of this world and seems totally 'right'. He uses a great deal of rallentando, very flexibly and never mawkish, as Bernstein could sometimes be. For once I was completely engaged in the first 3 movements of this sprawling and phantasmagoric symphony. With the third movement we enter the outer edges of something twisted, yet still beautiful. It reminded me of those times when living in the tropics when a hurricane lurked a few hundred miles in the Gulf. The atmosphere was beautiful and disturbing and energizing and enervating all at once. Tennstedt has created a similar atmosphere in this third movement which turns it into the most logical transition from the sunny beauty of the first two movements towards the turbulence of the approaching apocalypse and resurrection.
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