Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection)

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LABELS: Decca Legends
WORKS: Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection)
PERFORMER: Ileana Cotrubas (soprano), Christa Ludwig (contralto); Vienna State Opera Chorus, Vienna PO/Zubin Mehta
CATALOGUE NO: 466 992-2 ADD Reissue (1975)
A qualified confession first: called upon to offer critical approval in the note for this surprising choice of ‘Legend’, I had to declare I couldn’t wax lyrical over everything in Mehta’s performance. That, apparently, was all right; and the things I found to praise remain the same. This was, after all, the biggest sonic step forward in 1975 for a crucially panoramic symphony – though others, not least Decca’s more recent Blomstedt recording, have since outstripped it – and it does have the bonus of a professional opera chorus as well as two superlative soloists in Cotrubas and Ludwig. The most striking orchestral moment remains the Vienna cellos’ ineffable phrasing of their counter-theme in the Minuet – which suggests, of course, that higher emotional points have less of an impact than they should. Mehta remains a fine, clear guide through storm and stress, but ultimately one looks to a Bernstein to take colossal risks with the younger Mahler’s apocalyptic vision. David Nice