Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor

Simone Young / Michaela Kaune / Dagmar Pecková / Philharmoniker Hamburg

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Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor Review

by Blair Sanderson

Following her successful recordings of Anton Bruckner's symphonies and Richard Wagner's music dramas for Oehms Classics, Australian conductor Simone Young turns to the music of Gustav Mahler with this 2011 release of the Symphony No. 2 in C minor, "Resurrection." Young is an impressive figure in the area of late Romantic and post-Romantic music because her interpretations are often as thrilling as they are authoritative, and she offers fresh approaches that make the music seem newly minted. Such is the case with the "Resurrection" Symphony, which Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic perform with transparent clarity, subtle dynamic balance, and stunning force to bring the symphony dramatically to life. But as one of Mahler's most popular works, it periodically needs a boost of energy to attract the attention of jaded listeners, and Young's urgent, even breakneck, pacing provides the excitement needed to command their attention. This performance certainly doesn't drag, as is shown by the way the whole work fits neatly on one disc instead of two, and the propulsion that is generated in the first movement is decisively continued through the entire symphony, with little let-up. Along with this energy and vitality are the Hamburg Philharmonic's vivid sonorities and crisp execution, so the music sounds clear and fully audible (except for the off-stage brass chorale in "Urlicht," which is far too soft and distant). While this is plainly not a version for listeners who like exaggerated displays of religiosity in their Mahler, it is an exceptional version for people who want an efficient and powerful version that moves right along.

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