Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Mahler
LABELS: LPO
WORKS: Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection)
PERFORMER: Adriana Kucerová (soprano), Christianne Stotijn (mezzo-soprano); London Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir/Vladimir Jurowski
CATALOGUE NO: LPO 0054

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Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra began their Mahler odyssey with the composer’s unofficial ‘Opus One’ Das klagende Lied, (DVD review, July 2008). Of the Symphonies he’s since scaled, Three and Four fell, for me, at their slow-movement hurdles, but came up experimentally fresh – as does this more consistently successful Resurrection. It scores over the recent Simon Rattle interpretation (reviewed, March 2011) with focused fire and brimstone for the opening tremors. More reticence would have helped for the first glimpse of what here is a near heaven, but the modified dynamics are always interestingly articulated – try, for instance, the crisp, mezzo-forte rather than pianissimo, tread of half the cellos and basses, plus the wonderful cor anglais in the first movement.

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The interlude-minuet of bygone days is deliberately nuanced, like much else here. Then Jurowski pulls off his finest feat of tonal novelty in a hyper-modern scherzo. I don’t know what the cue is for treating some of the commas marked in the score as rests: quirky, but I like it. As I do the personality of Christianne Stotijn’s not always rock-solid solo, rising out of the tam-tam echo; she, Kucerová and the chorus then make a swiftish resurrection the most human and personable on disc, deserving all the wild cheers. Short of Claudio Abbado’s supreme flexibility on the Lucerne DVD, and a more capacious sound-picture than the Festival Hall allows, this performance is as engaging as it gets. David Nice