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
Number of Discs: 2
DR-Analysis: DR 13
Size: 1.6 GB
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
- RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
- TT: Vintage (1982) Yamaha PX-3
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
Cartridge: ZYX 50R Bloom
- NEW ! Phono amp: Audio Research SP15 own tube phono section.
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- NEW ! Pre Amp: Audio Research SP15
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
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
If you like what i do, please consider that a little donation would be very appreciate.
I reinvest all donations in maintenance of my rig, for purchasing cleaning solutions and, most important of all, purchasing of new vinyls.
Click on the “Donate”-button.
Download from FileFactory