Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 2 – Resurrection [cond. Otto Klemperer] (1962) EMI

In 1998, as part of its Klemperer Edition, EMI released a marvelous live recording of the Mahler Second Symphony featuring the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in a concert that took place a couple of years after this 1963 classic performance.

The excitement of concert conditions, combined with the extra flexibility that Klemperer offers and the generally excellent sound, made that version slightly preferable despite some slight orchestral mishaps. Now, however, I’m not so sure that that judgment is the correct one. In remastering this recording as part of its “Great Recordings of the Century” series, EMI has opened the sound up tremendously, to the point that in naturalness, amplitude, and balance, it belongs among the finest recordings that the piece has ever received.

The added depth and clarity, as is so often the case, adds a new dimension to Klemperer’s interpretation simply by allowing you to hear more of it. Climaxes in particular (the big one just before the entry of the chorus is a case in point) have been “defogged” to a remarkable degree, and there’s a real sense of space around the instruments. The bass line also has been cleaned up, offering clearer differentiation between double basses, bass drum, timpani, and organ pedals. Though still not perfectly disciplined (the first movement climax lacks coordination), the playing of the Philharmonia generally surpasses that of the BRSO, and so now if I had to recommend a single Klemperer Mahler Two, this would be it. Whichever version you ultimately prefer, Klemperer’s interpretation is a landmark in the history of Mahler performance. The urgency of the first movement, his truly gnarly treatment of the scherzo, and the almost Gothic grandeur of the finale are all elements that you simply won’t find anywhere else.
David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

01. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”: I. Allegro maestoso (Mit durchaus ernstem und feierlichem Ausdruck)
02. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”: II. Andante moderato (Sehr gemächlich. Nie eilen)
03. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”: III. In ruhig fließender Bewegung
04. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”: IV. “Urlicht” (Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht)
05. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”: V. Im Tempo des Scherzos. Wild herausfahrend –
06. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”: Wieder sehr breit –
07. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”: Ritardando… Maestoso –
08. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”: Wieder zurückhaltend –
09. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”: Langsam. Misterioso –
10. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”: Etwas bewegter –
11. Symphony No. 2 in C minor “Resurrection”: Mit Aufschwung, aber nicht eilen

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano
Hilde Rössel-Majdan, contralto
Philharmonia Chorus
Philharmonia Orchestra
Otto Klemperer, conductor

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