Gabriel Feltz / Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2

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Gabriel Feltz and the Stuttgart Philharmonic have previously recorded six of Gustav Mahler's symphonies for Dreyer-Gaido, suggesting the eventual issue of a complete cycle. This 2019 release of the Symphony No. 2 in C minor ("Resurrection"), is likely to be a highlight of such a set, because Feltz and his musicians have taken great pains to bring the score to life while also observing its finest details, particularly in articulation and dynamics, which is no mean feat. Feltz favors brisk tempos, particularly in the violent first movement and the sardonic Scherzo, creating moments of apocalyptic terror that perfectly balance with the quietly elegant Andante moderato, the sublime Wunderhorn song for mezzo-soprano, "Urlicht," and the expansive finale with its choral setting of lines from Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock's ode, Die Auferstehung. To call this symphony a long stretch is perhaps the simplest way to describe it, and only the most dedicated conductors can make it hold together over the course of its 90-plus minutes. Feltz takes into account the underlying unity of the work and lets it tell its story of a hero's death and funeral rites, memories of his life, and his ultimate resurrection on Judgment Day. On its face, the symphony is musically quite eclectic and varied in styles, yet this performance brings it together as a whole, so the trajectory is clear and concentrated, unlike some older traditional performances that draw the mystical second half out too long and deprive it of its drama. Dreyer-Gaido has split the symphony evenly over two discs, so Mahler's intended break between the first and second movements is a casualty, though sticklers for historical accuracy can still hit the pause button. Highly recommended.

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