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CD Review

Gustav Mahler

Symphony #2 "Resurrection"

Maria Stader
Janet Baker
St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/John Barbirolli
Testament SBT1320 84m ADD
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This is an indispensable release for the Barbirolli enthusiast as it enshrines a magnificent performance that has remained unheard for decades. The rapport that Sir John developed with the Berliners is clearly evident in this broad reading that is essential for Mahlerians too.

Testament split the work over two CDs as it runs to over 84 minutes but the set is offered for the price of one. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra play with sundry commitment in the opening movement that develops quite beautifully. The Andante moderato also has its moments and the recorded sound is extremely clear, bringing out the essential chamber like elements of the piece.

A feisty yet always controlled Third Movement is very much in evidence, comparing quite well to Klemperer's famous EMI Philharmonia version. I also greatly enjoyed Janet baker' sublime 'Urlicht' which at 5'24 is taken at just the right pace and expands most ravishingly.

The massive Finale is judiciously paced by Barbirolli who recognizes the wonder and mystery that permeates Mahler's music. I do feel that this is one of the most important versions of the 'Resurrection' now available and it is indeed a fine testament to this conductor's unflinching dedication to this great composer.

Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech