Mahler: Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection"

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Pierre Boulez's ever-illuminating Mahler cycle, which began in the mid-1990s, has saved the composer's grand vocal-orchestral works for last, ticking off in recent years the Third and Fourth Symphonies, Das Lied von der Erde, and now the Second Symphony, with its exalted choral culmination. The only remaining work is the Eighth, the most "vocal" of all. You'd expect this conductor to feel more of an affinity for the bleak modernism of a work like Mahler's Ninth, compared to the epic Romanticism that pervades the monumental "Resurrection" Symphony, but Boulez has clearly come to terms with this score, which receives a spectacularly dramatic performance here. The Vienna ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
Pierre Boulez's ever-illuminating Mahler cycle, which began in the mid-1990s, has saved the composer's grand vocal-orchestral works for last, ticking off in recent years the Third and Fourth Symphonies, Das Lied von der Erde, and now the Second Symphony, with its exalted choral culmination. The only remaining work is the Eighth, the most "vocal" of all. You'd expect this conductor to feel more of an affinity for the bleak modernism of a work like Mahler's Ninth, compared to the epic Romanticism that pervades the monumental "Resurrection" Symphony, but Boulez has clearly come to terms with this score, which receives a spectacularly dramatic performance here. The Vienna Philharmonic, as always, contributes a full-bodied orchestral luster to Mahler's music, and Boulez elicits a special vehemence from the orchestra in the moments of crisis -- the opening movement's development section and the traumatic climax of the Scherzo. In the symphony's second half, however, it's the singers' superb contributions that impress most: Michelle DeYoung has just the "earth mother" type of alto voice that "O röschen rot!" calls for, and when she's joined by soprano Christine Schäfer's soaring soprano and the Vienna Singverein, the finale goes over the top, just as it must. Refuting yet again the idea that this conductor values clinical precision over expression, Boulez gives in to the sublime grandeur of Mahler's rhetoric and serves up one of the most viscerally exciting of the Second Symphony's recent recordings.
All Music Guide - C. Ryan Hill
Arguably the finest orchestra in the world, the Vienna Philharmonic has recorded Mahler's monumental "Resurrection Symphony" with a host of different conductors. They include the Italian Claudio Abbado, the American Lorin Maazel, tycoon-turned-conductor and "Resurrection" specialist Gilbert Kaplan, as well as Leonard Bernstein, who played a significant role in the resurgence of Mahler's music. Finally, there were Otto Klemperer and Bruno Walter, two conductors from the golden age who both knew Mahler personally. None of those interpreters, though, have made the Vienna Philharmonic sound as good in Mahler's "Resurrection" as Pierre Boulez. At the tender age of 81, the French conductor, composer, and intellectual produced one of the most impressive and outstanding versions of this work available on disc. The despairing, funereal first movement is gripping from start to finish. As one might expect, Boulez keeps a tight handle on the proceedings, only to let go when Mahler's music becomes dreamy and soars into heavenly, far, and distant keys. Somewhat unexpected from Boulez, though, are his emotionally riveting scenes painted throughout much of the opening movement's stormy procession. The following Andante lilts along nicely, a brief reprieve from the deep turmoil that envelops much of the rest of the work. Boulez and the Vienna Philharmonic perform the delicate rhythmic intricacies of both the Andante and the tumultuous Scherzo that follow with great deliciousness: never overdone à la Rattle nor undercooked Ozawa. Even so, each movement retains its own character, especially the Scherzo, in which the horns and percussion section both exhibit outstanding technical and musical mastery throughout the dark and foreboding material. The "Urlicht" is brought to life with the help of Michelle DeYoung's colorful voice: her melancholic performance blends sublimely with the dark hues of the clarinets and English horn that are so prominent throughout Mahler's masterpiece. The half-an-hour long fifth and final movement combines stellar clarity, balance, and sound together with an acute depiction of the wide-ranging emotions that Mahler unleashes. Soprano Christine Schäfer delivers a performance that embodies the spirit of Mahler's theme -- as do the added forces of the Wiener Singverein. From the depths of darkness to the heights of spiritual attainment, it's all here. And, though unclear on many discs, the difficult offstage band work is extremely convincing and secure. The quality, resonance, and range of Deutsche Grammophon's sound are far above excellent. As a final note, one feels compelled to mention that Boulez has always had his share of detractors, who label his performances as "cold" and "heartless." Indeed, his sometimes publicly reserved, indifferent, and even at times scornful personality has helped substantiate those charges. This does not necessarily translate, though, into a performance with the same characteristics, as this recording proves. Listen with a set of fresh ears in order to hear the power, achievement, transcendence, and yes -- even soul in this performance.
BBC Music Magazine - David Nice
There are unexpected revelations. Every shift of orchestral colour, as Mahler assembles the component parts of his judgment-day canvas, registers in cleanly-recorded focus.
Chicago Tribune - Alan Artner
Boulez is intimate, detailed and refinedly musical. The poetry here comes from the sheer quality of the playing, singing and recording--among the most beautiful of any Mahler symphony on disc.
Fanfare - Christopher Abbot
Boulez has produced a stunningly -- and dare I say, unexpectedly -- successful performance of this hardy perennial.

There are unexpected revelations. Every shift of orchestral colour, as Mahler assembles the component parts of his judgment-day canvas, registers in cleanly-recorded focus.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/13/2006
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • UPC: 028947760047
  • Catalog Number: 000668402
  • Sales rank: 112,254

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Symphony No. 2 in C minor ("Resurrection") - Pierre Boulez & Gustav Mahler (80:35)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Pierre Boulez Primary Artist
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