With the announcement, in 2009, that Telarc Records would no longer produce its own recordings, it seemed all too possible that Benjamin Zander would never finish his Mahler symphony cycle with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London. So it’s good to see their performance of Symphony No. 2, the ‘Resurrection,’ recorded last year and now out on Glasgow-based Linn Records, which has already in its catalog [albums] of Martin Pearlman and Boston Baroque in Haydn’s The Creation and Lord Nelson Mass. We can hope – and expect – that Zander will be able to complete his cycle with the Seventh and Eighth.
There’s more good news: This release includes the usual Zander discussion disc, in which he goes well beyond what you normally find in liner notes to explicate the music. Of special note here is the background of Mahler’s relationship with the great conductor Hans von Bülow, Zander’s notion of rubato in the second-movement ländler, and his helpful interpretation of the sprawling last movement as a series of panels in a fresco.
The performance itself is expansive, running just over 90 minutes. It’s scrupulous; if you follow along with a score, you can observe how carefully Zander has adhered to Mahler’s markings, including his glissandos and portamentos. It’s tender and reverent, and full of detail…Soprano Miah Persson and mezzo Sarah Connolly…are excellent, and Zander rises to the challenge of the closing pages.
Click here to listen to Mahler’s Symphony no. 2.