Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Mahler
LABELS: Channel
ALBUM TITLE: Mahler
WORKS: Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection)
PERFORMER: Lisa Milne (soprano), Birgi Remmert (mezzo-soprano); Hungarian Radio Choir; Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fisher
CATALOGUE NO: CCS SA 23506
The earth truly shakes at the

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beginning of this Mahler

Resurrection, albeit with firmness

and breadth from an authoritative

Iván Fischer. The promise of this

start is realised in a grand finale

which finds the splendid Budapest

Festival Orchestra as vocal in its

chorales and pleas for belief as the

excellent chorus and soloists. That

means that after Boulez’s neutral trip

to Nirvana (reviewed in the Proms

2006 issue), Mahler’s theatricality

is once again centre-stage. Even

so Fischer, who can be a febrile

interpreter, rarely pushes too hard.

The orchestral sound is lean but

not undernourished, allowing for

even balance between contesting

lines – outstanding in the funereal

coda of the first movement – and a

clearer than usual interplay between

gleaming upper brass and woodwind.

Instrumental timbres remain

distinct even in the loudest passages,

thanks partly to the superb acoustics

of Budapest’s Palace of Arts. Supreme

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in the extra dimension of the SACD format, they make ample space for offstage brass, starting earlier than usual with angelic trumpets in the middle distance behind an unglamourised Birgit Remmert in ‘O roschon rot’. Seekers after a new Mahler 2 on CD are surely going to place sound at a premium, and it certainly has the the edge over an even more fluid and expressive performance from Abbado and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (recorded in an equally fine hall, but sadly engineers couldn’t leave it to speak for itself). That’s an interpretation still worth watching on DVD. On CD, Bernstein reaches out for even more, but admirers of this orchestra with a voice of its own will respect the freshness it brings to a famiiar score. David Nice