Gustav Mahler's Symphonies: Critical Commentary on Recordings since 1986

By Lewis M. Smoley | Go to book overview

SYMPHONY NO. 2 IN C MINOR
("RESURRECTION")
Movements:
1. Allegro maestoso
2. Andante moderato
3. In ruhig fliessender Bewegung
4. "Urlicht" - Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht
5. Im Tempo des Scherzos.
Wild herausfahrend. Allegro energico

ABBADO, CLAUDIO/Chicago Symphony & Chorus; Carol Neblett, soprano; Marilyn Home, contralto - 2-DG 2707094; 3370015 (1977); 2-DG 427 262 (1989)*+ While Abbado provides one of the better overall performances currently available, his extremely agitated fast tempi and abrupt tempo changes may not be to everyone's taste. He generates much excitement in the outer movements with an underlying energetic motion and vital intensity. He also creates some lovely lyrical moments (e.g., second theme of the first movement and in the cello countersubject in the second movement). A few phrase endings are treated affectatiously. Most distressing are the constricted, bassy sonics, weak percussion (where is the ruthe in the third movement?), unfocussed blend and uneven balances (particularly in the third movement), none of which are much improved in the CD reissue. Abbado makes a fine effort to attend to details and his interpretive style works well in stronger sections. Abbado takes the descending triplets that end the first movement at a rapid pace in keeping with the intense agitation he engenders throughout. The second and third movements are generally effective, if sometimes too tense. Percussion could be more prominent. In the Scherzo Abbado makes an unwarranted decision to speed up at #49. Marilyn Home graces the brief Urlickt movement with her rich voice and expressive reading. Fuller and better focussed sound (particularly in the climaxes), a stronger, less distant chorus and more orchestral precision would have improved the finale. Abbado's ability to elicit excitement with energetic tempi and heightened intensity is his best asset here.

ABBADO, CLAUDIO/Vienna Philharmonic; Vienna State Opera Chorus; Stefan Woytowicz, soprano; Lucretia West, contralto (perf. 8 Aug. 1965, Salzburg) - 2-Hunt CD 542 (1988); 2-Arkadia 542 "79:01" This performance by Abbado and the VPO, given several years before his recording with the CSO (see above), while of some historical interest, is unsatisfactory. Technical problems with recorded sound and orchestral precision are serious

-33-

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Gustav Mahler's Symphonies: Critical Commentary on Recordings since 1986
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Symphony No. 1 in D Major ("Titan") 1
  • Symphony No. 2 in C Minor ("Resurrection") 33
  • Symphony No. 3 in D Minor 59
  • Symphony No. 4 in G Major 81
  • Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp Minor 107
  • Symphony No. 6 in a Minor ("Tragic") 141
  • Symphony No. 7 in E Minor ("Song of the Night") 167
  • Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major ("Symphony of a Thousand") 189
  • Das Lied Von der Erde 205
  • Symphony No. 9 in D Major 225
  • Symphony No. 10 in F-Sharp Major (Unfinished) 255
  • Bibliography 268
  • Index to Conductors 269
  • Index to Orchestras 284
  • Index to Soloists 298
  • Index to Choruses 322
  • Index to Record Labels 334
  • About the Author 355
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