HD-Vinyls 24/96 (EMI) Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” (Klemperer)

Many thanks to Jean-Luc for this gem

This recording of Mahler 2nd dates from 1961-1962, but dont be afraid about the sound quality because it is one of the most powerful old stereo you can find out there. And the performance is awesome…remember that this is Klemperer conducting, and conducting his favorite Mahler symphony. If you have to listen one reconding of Mahler’s 2nd for the first time this is the one you must hear. You will not be dissapointed, trust me.

Composer: Gustav Mahler
Performer: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Hilde Rössel-Majdan
Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra And Chorus
Conductor: Otto Klemperer
Vinyl (1963/1984)
Number of Discs: 2
Format: Flac
Label: EMI
DR-Analysis: DR 13
Size: 1.6 GB
Scan: yes
Server: FileFactory


Klemperer afficianados adore everything the maestro laid his hands on. Those who don’t stray much beyond respect will divide his output roughly between the “middle-aged Klemperer” and the “aging Klemperer” categories. The distinction seems to be that in the former, he was all piss and vinegar, while in the latter, he was like an aging grandfather clock that just kept slowing down. Young Otto kept things moving smartly, while old Otto just plodded. You get the idea.

This recording of Mahler’s “Resurrection” symphony dates from late 1961 and early 1962, and here we encounter the “aging Klemperer,” age 77, but….and it’s a serious “but”…. conducting the one piece of symphonic literature to which he publicly credited his most personal attachment. From 1905, when the 20 year old Klemperer conducted the offstage brass in a performance led by Oskar Fried (attended by Mahler and pronounced “very good”) to 1907, when he created his own piano reduction of the score, the work was clearly in the forefront of his mind. Mahler himself aided Klemperer in attaining his first professional appointments, in Prague (1907) and Hamburg (1910).

Yet for all of the above, Klemperer was of mixed views concerning Mahler as an overall symphonist. Much of the Mahler canon he conducted either rarely or never at all. It was the “Resurrection” symphony, though, which Klemperer consistently programmed, recording it for Vox just ten years prior to the performance under discussion here. It was this hybrid of arch-Romanticism, drama, and religious/philosophical yearning that Klemperer remained devoted to for the entire length of his professional career. Perhaps it is this quality–devotion–that has magnetized listeners with this performance ever since its issue by EMI/Angel in 1963.

There is urgency from the very first bar. The pace is a gripping one–nothing “plodding” here. Attacks by the strings, from basses and cellos straight up to first violins, are hair-raising. Brass and winds shriek, bray, and proclaim their choruses and accents precisely as the score’s instructions demand…and then some. Momentum is never abandoned–no fermata-as-smoking-break here! And yet it never feels rushed. Klemperer has indeed set a brisk pace, by contemporary performing standards (he clocks in at just over 19 minutes, with most recent outings averaging at around 22). It is this devotion to the drama…the urgency…that makes it so compelling.

The fireworks of the opening movement are soon held in stark contrast to the second movement’s laendler-esque nostalgia, complete with the wonderfully executed string pizzicati, a subtle bit of performance theater when violins and violas adopt a horizontal strumming position a la mandolin. “Sehr gemaechlich” is Mahler’s performing instruction, and leisurely–with a distinct Austrian accent–is indeed the operative term here. The push-pull of the rhythm is in evidence, but never dominant. Klemperer gets it right, without lathering on the schmaltz.

Mahler, Klemperer, and the orchestra then deftly switch gears once more, with the sardonic lilt of the third movement’s portrait of St. Anthony preaching to the fish. The humor is pointedly presented, with verbal outbursts characterized by the solo winds, brass accents, and percussive punctuation…all while the swimming strings answering in blithe counterpoint. Tempo here is a bit slower than most of the competition, but it’s never obtrusively so, given the prowess of the Philharmonia’s colorful solo and section work. While truly in rondo/scherzo mode, Mahler doesn’t set a driving pace here, and neither does Klemperer.

Movements 4 and 5, beginning with the intensely haunting “Urlicht,” or primal light, also serve to re-introduce mezzo Hilde Roessl-Majdan, reprising her role in Klemperer’s 1951 recording. She delivers her song of intensely determined hope with palpable conviction, setting the stage for the fireworks of the fifth movement’s sequence of spiritual, emotional, and musical climaxes. And when they come….they COME! Shattering eruptions from all quarters are announced by offstage brass choirs, distantly placed so as to be sensed as much as heard, making the orchestral tuttis all the more compelling. Magic moments continue with the Wilhelm Pitz-led Philharmonia Chorus’ subito entrance of “Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n……” Vocal projection is beautifully concentrated and balanced, a quality maintained even in their fortissimo outbursts. Then, back to a whisper as Roessl-Majdan reappears, this time in the company of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Their duet is well-matched, with Schwarzkopf’s honeyed tone soaring appropriately, tethered only by Roessl-Majdan’s mezzo.

From here, momentum continues to build, with chorus and orchestra in fine balance, all the way to finely-wrought conclusion with the organ’s entrance (a tribute to Walter Legge’s legendary production values). From beginning to end, one is aware of the full range of dynamic contained in Mahler’s visionary scoring, with the beefy Kingway Hall ambience ably tamed and clarified. Recording quality is remarkably good, given the age, with only a few instances of high-end thinness present in the upper-octave violins and slightly splashy cymbals. One comes away with an appreciation for Klemperer’s obvious teamwork with Legge, as solos and sectional passagework make their presence known with undue spotlighting.

Is it, then, a near-perfect performance? To that, a short “yes,” and a long “perhaps.” One could quibble about the pitch variance in the closing pages, with bells, organ, and orchestra sometimes vying for primacy. Could the third movement scherzo be just a bit quicker? Possibly. These are questions which could be posed about almost any great recording of a major work as complexly scored and layered as Mahler’s “Resurrection.” What remains, though, is the sense of conviction and devotion that Klemperer brings to this work. Klemperer saw overwhelming greatness in this piece, and spent much of his life as an apostle for it. This is a performance and recording that will never leave the catalog, and no Mahler collection should be without it.



A 1. Satz Allegro Maestoso 19:10
B1 2. Satz Andante Moderato 10:36
B2 3. Satz Scherzo 11:52
C1 4. Satz Urlicht 11:05
C2 5. Satz – Im Tempo Des Scherzo 8:20
D 5. Satz – Wild Herausfahrend 19:22


Analyzed folder: /96k Mahler – Symphony No. 2 – Klemperer
DR        Peak        RMS        Filename
DR13        -1.18 dB     -19.20 dB     A Sinfonie Nr. 2 C-Moll ‘Auferstehung’ – 1. Satz Allegro Maestoso.aif
DR13        -3.93 dB     -22.84 dB     B1 Sinfonie Nr. 2 C-Moll ‘Auferstehung’ – 2. Satz Andante Moderato.aif
DR14        -0.83 dB     -21.36 dB     B2 Sinfonie Nr. 2 C-Moll ‘Auferstehung’ – 3. Satz Scherzo.aif
DR16        -1.29 dB     -24.56 dB     C1 Sinfonie Nr. 2 C-Moll ‘Auferstehung’ – 4. Satz Urlicht.aif
DR12        -0.72 dB     -15.96 dB     C2 Sinfonie Nr. 2 C-Moll ‘Auferstehung’ – 5(1). Satz – Im Tempo Des Scherzo.aif
DR12        -0.92 dB     -19.47 dB     D Sinfonie Nr. 2 C-Moll ‘Auferstehung’ – 5(2). Satz – Wild Herausfahrend.aif
Number of files:    6
Official DR value:    DR13


  • Composed By – Gustav Mahler
  • Conductor – Otto Klemperer
  • Orchestra, Chorus – Philharmonia Orchestra And Chorus
  • Soprano – Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
  • Contralto – Hilde Rössel-Majdan

Ripping Info


If You hear some clicks and pops here and there, Who cares?
Id rather have a few light anomalies instead of destroying the music.
Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops.
My rips are almost rough rips.

  • Software: iZotope RX 4 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Super light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no de-noising
  • DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
  • Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5

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22 thoughts on “HD-Vinyls 24/96 (EMI) Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” (Klemperer)

  1. Not only a great recording but also a masterfully done rip, Rach! I am really envious of your improved recording path with new phono stage.

  2. Klemperer’s ambivalence toward Mahler seems to reflect my own. I also find #2 is the one that speaks to me. This is a rigorous test of playback hardware too! 🙂 The rip is shining! Thanks.

    • Would you kindly compare this with my other “2nd”, that one by Kubelik? Please, give me your opinion for both, sound and performance.

      • First I should say when I heard the Klemperer this morning I was multi tasking a little, so I was not paying as close attention as to the Kubelik. I may have to qualify my comments after a more close listening.

        Re: Performance — If I had to summarize my impressions, I would say the Klemperer is dramatic, and the Kubelik is narrative.

        The 1st movement is taken at a leisurely pace, almost belying the word “allegro” honestly, but in the process emerges an impression of melodic beauty I rarely get from Mahler, and for this I give Kubelik high praise. He refrains from over indulging when the opportunity is present to make a big sound, rather seems to seek out the melodic story thread. When the dance rhythm comes in there is a relaxed enjoyment of pleasure, almost like it is Mozart, not Mahler. 🙂 At all times I sense Kubelik hears melodic beauty in Mahler, but more importantly, he makes me hear it! The quest is for beauty, not philosophy — know what I mean?

        Klemperer on the other hand clearly believes there is great meaning in this, philosophical or theological profundity. If I had an english translation of the libretti I might have a more intelligent comment on that aspect of it. Klemperer’s approach is theatrical. Where there is contrast there is conflict. Where there is rhythm there is tension. There is at all times an urgent search for the grand meaning of everything. After all, it is called “Resurrection”!

        What can I say? Two great maestros, top class musicians and an ambitious piece of music writing. This is what we love, isn’t it? 🙂 I enjoyed both, I will return to both, many more times. If you put a gun to my head and forced me to choose I would probably take the Kubelik, but I would also be haunted by the thought, “maybe I should have taken the Klemperer!” 🙂

        Re: Recording

        Both are excellent. The vinyl of the Kubelik was not in great condition, but nonetheless the ambience of the hall was present, and dynamics were life like. The whisper quiet winds in the middle of the 5th prove the class. The Klemperer is a breathtaking gem of engineering when you consider the date of production. It may have a little less ambience, but a little more definition of instruments.

        Both rips are excellent. The rip quality is a non factor in choosing one over the other. Both rips let the record come through as intended, which is the highest compliment to the ripper I believe.

        Thanks again, Rach! If you had not mentioned it I would not have searched for the Kubelik. Solti and Bernstein were my usual menu for the #2, and now I have these superb ones.

  3. My God! This performance and recording is like a NUCLEAR EXPLOSION! By the end, I was trembling and in tears… thank you, dear Rach!

  4. Why didn’t I ever listen to this rendition? Ear candy in the positive sense. A very intense exploration into the musical cosmos. Thanks a lot. The rip is outstanding as usual.

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