Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor (Resurrection)

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

WORKS: Symphony No. 2 in C minor (Resurrection)
PERFORMER: Ruth Ziesak, Charlotte Hellekant, San Francisco SO & Chorus/ Herbert Blomstedt
No detail escapes the eagle eye of Blomstedt in this bracing, unsensationalised Resurrection. It’s a measure of the Decca engineers’ achievement in San Francisco’s refurbished Davies Symphony Hall that you can pinpoint the strands exactly within the orchestral sound-picture. The highly controlled end product suggests perhaps a missing dimension of physical shock, Bernstein-style. Certainly Blomstedt has thought out his lines of attack, and after some atmospheric slow fades in the opening funeral rites, the developing cataclysm sounds a touch calculated. But the translucent slitherings of ‘St Anthony’s Sermon to the Fishes’ temporarily yield to a powerful catastrophe, and once the Judgement Day canvas begins to piece together, the incisiveness of the march mania is never in doubt.


Constant refinements provide never a dull bar: the San Francisco strings have really learned how to play for Blomstedt, with a warm Viennese vibrato that always gives the lines inner life. If there is a weakness, it rests with the fledgling tones of mezzo Charlotte Hellekant in ‘Urlicht’, not ideally in calm command of the phrases, though her initial entry with ‘O Röschen roth!’ is perfectly assured. Both vocally and orchestrally, though, the final ‘Resurrection Ode’ is as fervent and resplendent as any. David Nice