Mahler: Symphony No 2

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mahler
LABELS: CSO Resound
WORKS: Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection)
PERFORMER: Miah Persson (soprano), Christianne Stotijn (mezzo-soprano); Chicago Symphony Chorus & Orchestra/ Bernard Haitink
CATALOGUE NO: 901 916 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Advertisement

It’s amazing how much you can gauge of a performance’s temperament in the opening bars of a Mahler symphony. No hellfire or thunder surround the orderly flares at the start of Bernard Haitink’s latest Resurrection.

I found myself emotionally back with my first experience, when he conducted the Second at the Proms and, arena being sold out, I was detached from it all up in the gallery. Not that the sound as captured here in Chicago’s Symphony Center Hall is distant – dry, though with clear inner textures and really alive only in the realistic, powerful percussion. 

Haitink has always known how to pace this baggy monster, and if like me you sometimes want Mahler’s early attempt at profundity to get on with it, he’s the man for you (though it takes a Bernstein to convince in the opposite viewpoint).

Still, I would have welcomed more drive in the brass fanfares cutting across what here is an unusually delicate, subtle and unsarcastic scherzo, and more march mania in the judgment day proceedings. Christianne Stotijn is a warm, personable observer, well matched later on by Miah Persson, though the mezzo’s distinctive vibrato may not be to all tastes (I like it because I like her).

Advertisement

The Chicago brass are very much the orchestral stars, from top to bottom of their ensemble. David Nice