Mahler & Tennstedt’s Resurrection Symphony

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Mahler
Symphony No.2 (Resurrection)

Yvonne Kenny (soprano) & Jard van Nes (mezzo-soprano)

London Philharmonic Choir

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Klaus Tennstedt

Recorded 20 February 1989 in Royal Festival Hall, London


Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: April 2010
CD No: LPO – 0044 (2 CDs)
Duration: 1 hour 34 minutes

An electric charge is immediately apparent at the beginning of this often-remarkable and huge-scale account of Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony, Klaus Tennstedt deeply attuned to the theatre, pathos and universality of the music.

Pungent, weighty, searching, lamenting and reflective, Tennstedt finds more tragedy in the first movement than do a lot of conductors – indeed it is more funereal than usual, but with no lack of fire and emotional outrage.

The second movement moves at a tempo that could be considered pedestrian, yet Tennstedt keeps the ear entranced through subtle use of dynamics and emphasis, the music expressive and taken ‘beyond’ what might seem a simple dance rhythm. With St Anthony preaching in the third movement, Tennstedt finds something spiky and sardonic; this sermon has appropriate flow, smooth, silky, and moments of eruptive power – between 8’30” and 8’50” the intimidating and trilling trumpets, braying horns and grinding trombones are particularly thrilling.

Jard van Nes then brings gravitas to ‘Urlicht’, and the epic finale (afforded three cue points), blessed with Yvonne Kenny’s radiance, is given a sense of space, monumental upheaval, renewal and final deliverance, the sound expanding gloriously, organ fully in the frame, all the performers at-one with the collective vision of Mahler and Tennstedt. A tumultuous ovation follows, understandably – it was a great occasion.

There were two performances given at this time, this one recorded for the Music Performance Research Centre (more recently known as Music Preserved). The DDD sound quality is naturally set and balanced, with plenty of detail and tangibility.

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