Mahler: Symphony No. 2 - Tilson Thomas
San Francisco Symphony 821936-0006-2 (2 discs)
Classical - Orchestral
Mahler: Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection"
Isabel Bayrakdarian (soprano)
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (mezzo-soprano)
San Francisco Symphony Chorus & Orchestra
Michael Tilson Thomas (conductor)
The massive Second Symphony takes us into epic territory. Often called the Resurrection Symphony, this vast work begins in purgatorial terror and moves through the gamut of emotions, to a visionary choral finale in which the heavens open. In addition to the Orchestra, the SFS recording of this overwhelming work features the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, and mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.
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Review by Mark Novak - November 13, 2004
This is not the clear winner that other titles in this series have been. It's a good but not great performance of this monumental work. There are many nice touches - I think MTT does best in the inner movements. But it is really the outer movements that can make or break a performance and here MTT and the SFSO are a bit variable. The opening of mvmt 1 doesn't capture and enthrall me, a requisite for this sym. The cellos and basses lack bite (more a conductor's decision rather than a sound thing I think) and there are a few longuers throughout the mvmt. The peroration just before the 16 min. mark is quite something, though. The final mvmt starts with a wallop and there are many good things along the path but again it seems a bit too leisurely at times. The vocalists are fine and the chorus is terrific. Sorry to be a nit picker, but I just call it like I see it. Overall, this is a performance that I will return to from time to time but I can't say its one of the very best available. It clocks in at 88 min.
Sonically, the recording is a good one. I listened to the stereo SACD layer and it comes off well. I would say that the brass are a bit forward compared to the rest of the orchestra and a little bit too much bite in the sound (yes, I know what a real orchestra sounds like but this was more bite than real life). You can clearly hear the divided violins (left and right) with the cellos and basses on the left (which is different tha most orchestral recording).
Also, note that there is a discrepancy in the tracking of disc 2. The first mvmt is by itself on disk 1 with one track. On disk 2, the documentation shows 4 tracks (for mvmts 2-5) but in reality the last mvmt is split into two tracks - the second at the entrance of the chorus. No biggie.
Copyright © 2004 Mark Novak and HRAudio.net