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KLEMPERER’S MAHLER 2: A “RESURRECTION” NOT TO BE MISSED!
This magnificent EMI recording from November 1961/March 1962 was briefly available as a SACD disc on EMI-Japan (TOGE-15044). That disc is currently selling on Amazon for $245-1006.66 (2nd-hand to new), which may give you some idea of its collector status. If that puts it beyond reach for most of us, HDTT has come to the rescue by providing the next best option in a HD transfer that states its awesome credentials again right from the start: the gnarling motivic bits with which celli and basses define the rugged territory ahead jump out of the speakers with a presence and urgency the various CD editions can offer but a pale reflection of. Other striking examples of the vastly superior sound picture here include the transparency of divided celli and basses together with Klemperer’s antiphonally placed first and second violins in the second movement (first at 01:25 ) and the utterly life-like timpani strokes that open the third movement, not to mention the space around the big drum, bassoons, clarinets and horns as they join in. Mahler’s Second of course runs like a red thread through Klemperer’s life and career. Klemperer was 20 when he conducted the off-stage band in the 1905 Berlin premiere under Oskar Fried and so got to know Mahler personally; he had just turned 86 when in May 1971 he commemorated the 60th anniversary of Mahler’s death by giving two performances with the New Philharmonia Orchestra in London’s Royal Festival Hall. Of the numerous times he conducted it in a career spanning more than half a century, there is Cologne in 1919, Berlin two years later and of course his years at the Kroll Opera there (1927-1931), Amsterdam in 1929 and New York in 1935. Whereas in the one studio and two live performances that survive from 1951 (Vienna and Amsterdam, the latter with Kathleen Ferrier) we hear Klemperer driving the score forward with febrile intensity and speed, indicative of the manic phase he went through at the time, the final London performances, for all their slower, more determined speeds, reveal a stark inner energy and a profoundly personal vision closer in imagination perhaps to Beckett than to Nietzsche for the finality of the first movement’s funeral march and the denuded landscape Klemperer conjures up in the second movement’s D-sharp minor sections (for details of all available recordings see the Klemperer discography at www.archiphon.de). Klemperer completed this EMI studio recording in parallel with his equally legendary Fidelio and instills its five movements with the same rocklike power and rhythmic drive. Admittedly, he was happier in the concert hall, but in this superb HD transfer Klemperer’s life-long involvement with the score looms large. The forward thrust but also the restless urgency of the first movement don’t let up for a moment while the this-worldly irony of the third movement is unmistakable. What of the vast “Resurrection” canvas that Mahler erects in the final movement? As HDTT has now also made available Bruno Walter’s 1958 “Resurrection” recording with the New York Philharmonic, we can once more survey the famous dichotomy between the two Mahler protégées. In his exhaustive discussion of these same two recordings (2006), the late Tony Duggan spelled it out succinctly: “Walter's simpler, more lyrical approach, stresses spirituality and faith, certainties that [for him] always (…) in the end win out. (…) He takes Mahler's apparent certainty of deliverance at face value where Klemperer at least asks questions and, in so doing, makes this work more involving and ultimately more moving.” It’s there right from the start, but if you want to sample what the transparent sonic panorama of this magnificent transfer has in store for you, go straight to track 11 (44, “Mit Aufschwung, aber nicht eilen”) and the embrace of Klemperer’s two magnificent soloists, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Hilde Roessl-Majdan , prepare yourself for the entry of the “full” organ at 48 (“Auferstehen!”) and then ride the swelling tide to its final resplendent crescendo and the “abrupt snap off” (“sharf abreissen”) that ends it all. Then go back to the beginning if only to discover at the end of the journey that in the world of this “bipolar” symphony “Resurrection” can inhabit different meanings and that the consolation extended by “Oh Glaube!” can be as manifold as the colors of the rainbow.
This is a marvelous performance of a Mahler masterpiece. I highly recommend the 192 kHz version; the sound is terrific.
Performance is marvelous,
however, recording quality is not so good.
Great performance, great recording! The best Mahler the 2nd!
Great performance, Excellent transfer
I have been looking for the SACD version of this recording for quite a while, which was once available in Japan a few years ago. This transfer is so great that I think the search for the SACD is no longer necessary. Nice Job!
Title: Mahler: Symphony no 2 in C minor "Resurrection"
Artist(s): Otto Klemperer & the New Philharmonia Orchestra and the Philharmonia Chorus
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Hilde Rössl-Majdan (Mezzo soprano)
Recording Info: Transferred from a Angel 4-track tape
Recorded by EMI Date of Recording 1961/2
Venue: Kingsway Hall, London