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This in-concert recording of Mahler's Second Symphony belies its subject matter.
Repertoire: Symphony No. 2
Artists: Adriana Kučerová, Christianne Stotijn, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski
Label: LPO 0054
The Music: Mahler’s Second Symphony is the world’s Eighth Wonder. Partly conceived before he wrote his First Symphony, the symphony evolved from a single movement tone poem, Todtenfeier, to which Mahler added a slow movement and scherzo, and epic choral finale. In 1894, when he’d finished, this was symphonic thinking on an unheralded scale – both of instrumental and choral forces, and of emotional excess.
The Performance: Recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall in 2009, Jurowski serves up a contrived and easy to dislike performance of what ought to be everybody’s favourite Mahler symphony. The first movement is episodic, fuelled by curiously abrupt gear changes in the tempo department, justification enough to dock another star if it wasn’t for the LPO’s utterly alive playing. The Andante is gesturally indistinct and laboured; the Scherzo and long journey towards the choral finale flows with the grain more spontaneously, and the vocal soloists are top-notch. But it’s too little, far too late.
The Verdict: A souvenir of a live concert upon which the analytical medium of CD throws unflattering light.
Want More? Rattle’s recent recording with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (EMI Classics, 647 3632) – listen and weep, Vladimir.