Paavo Järvi

Mahler: Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection"

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Paavo Järvi's 2009 recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 in C minor, "Resurrection," features an excellent performance that succeeds in many ways, not least emotionally, but has one drawback that may count against it for some listeners. Most of the time, in this vast work about life, death, and last things, Järvi elicits playing that excites, drama that compels, and expressions that feel spontaneous, and his rapport with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra is real enough that he can get it to play pretty much anything he asks. The performances of mezzo-soprano Alice Coote and of soprano Natalie Dessay are utterly beautiful, and the voices of the Orfeón Donostiarra are awe-inspiring in the setting of Klopstock's "Resurrection" Ode. In almost every important way, this performance reveals an honest effort to convey Mahler's eschatological vision, and for a general audience, this will be a perfectly satisfying recording. However, whether it is due to Järvi's direction, to the microphone placement or to the engineer's controls, either the dynamics or volume levels seem to shift in places where they shouldn't. To be sure, this recording has a truly wide frequency range, and it is acceptable that Järvi should establish the very softest and loudest extremes, as he pleases. But there are instances where the listener needs to adjust the volume because the pianissimos are barely audible or the fortissimos ear-shattering and at times they are unexpected even to an experienced listener. While this may be a minor consideration for most, fans of Mahler and devotees of this work can be quite particular about the nuances, so hearing this recording is advised before purchase, and newcomers to the composer should compare it with other recommended performances before settling on it.

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