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Zander / Philharmonia - The Times Review

Geoff Brown - The Sunday Times
CD Reviews — November 15, 2013

Mahler’s stock in the world shows no sign of diminishing…one from…the cultish figure of Benjamin Zander…whose live Mahler performances regularly draw hushed crowds.

His new release with the Philharmonia Orchestra resumes a cycle put in jeopardy in 2009 when the Telarc label stopped making its own recordings. Glasgow-based Linn Records has picked up Zander’s torch and the warmth and clarity of sound entirely suits a conductor famous for his close attention to Mahler’s multiple markings of stress and dynamics.

With speeds he proves a little more cavalier. This Second Symphony, the Resurrection, lasts 90 minutes – towards the upper end of what is usually expected. Most of the amplitude comes in the finale, though hesitations arrive even in the phrases of the ‘Andante’, first haven in the symphony’s storms. Reticent trumpets apart, the Philharmonia generates a tremendously rich sound. But don’t expect searing agony: Zander prefers the lofty objective view, and lets the drama of death and resurrection unfold without jabbing our elbows.

Special ingredients? The tense opening bars; the feeling radiating from mezzo Sarah Connolly; the finale’s first steps, so gravely beautiful; the prayerful singing of the choir, steady at the slowest speeds. And Linn hasn’t forgotten Zander’s specialty: a valuable audio analysis, longer than the symphony itself, available as a free download.


Click here to listen to Mahler’s Symphony no. 2.

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