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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Thrilling Mahler 2Sept. 30 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Five stars seem hardly enough to rate the technical qualities of this disc. The picture quality is as sharp and clear as you could wish, but it is the phenomenal sound which almost beggars description. This is demonstration quality sound par excellence - a valuable plus point in a recording of this work. Abbado's 2003 Lucerne performance sounds spectacular, and still holds its own sonically against its rivals, but the improvements in recording technology over the intervening period have been exploited to astonishing effect on this disc. But what of the performance itself? Chailly uses a larger choir than Abbado, and the choral singing is as good as on the Abbado disc, but whereas Chailly's choir look like any choir one might see at a concert, Abbado's singers are dressed in monk-like robes and are more rigid and austere in their movements, adding to the almost religious feel of his performance. The soloists on the Chailly disc adopt a more dramatic style than those on the Abbado disc, which suits Chailly's dramatic interpretation. In contrast, Abbado's soloists are more ethereal, stressing beauty over drama. For example, at the end of the first and second verses of the Aufersteh'n hymn, the voice of Abbado's soprano (Eteri Gvazava) soars effortlessly out of the choral background, whereas Christiane Oeize's entrance on the Chailly disc is much more evident and emphatic. Chailly pauses (and moves off the podium) at the end of the first movement, in line with Mahler's instructions - it is at this point that the two soloists come onstage. In the first three movements there is little to chose between Chailly and Abbado. Sarah Connolly(Chailly) and Anna Larsson (Abbado) are both good in the brief "Urlicht" movement, Larsson adopting a slightly more tender delivery. The start of the last movement is almost literally shattering in the Chailly performance, more effective than in the Abbado performance not least because of the sound quality on the Chailly disc. From here on however I feel that Abbado captures more magic in the music as the "redemption" themes are introduced - he molds the phrases more than Chailly, whose approach to the music is a little more straightforward. This difference is enhanced by the filming: in the Abbado there are consciously constructed fade shots and soft focus effects at key points in the music (when the offstage brass first make their entry, for example) which suit Abbado's more spiritual interpretation. The camera work in the Chailly is more straightforward - this is a record of a concert performance. Again, the state of the art sound enhances Chailly's ending of the symphony, but (that apart) there is little to choose here between Chailly and Abbado, with the latter perhaps conveying a little more "release of joy" at the very end.
The Chailly performance is magnificent by any standard (and unmatched in sound quality). Its obvious rival on disc is the Abbado Lucerne performance - also magnificent. Buy both, for their different approaches to the symphony. When you want to be thrilled go with Chailly, but when you want to be moved choose Abbado.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Thrilling!Oct. 3 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
From the opening bars this performance grabs one by the throat and never lets go. Abbado set new standards with his magnificent Blu-ray set of 1-7, (not the 9th unfortunately), but this is even better. The quality of the camera work, the colour balance, the overall artistic design and an outstanding performance make this a very special disc. I rate it the best orchestral Blu-ray disc in my quite large collection. Abbado is wonderful too and the performace differences are small and personal, but the production design and recording team have made greater strides with this recording. Magnificent. The individual instrument camera work is brilliant. I did not care for the paper pack which I suspect will not last that long but that is a minor quibble.
There are trailers for other works notably the nuclear-powered 8th if that is to your taste, (not mine I must confess), and it would appear to be just as good based on the 4 minute sample. My only regret is that with Abbado's splendid set on release how much nicer it would have been to have had say Shostakovitch's 4th or perhaps Schoenberg's Gürrelieder, works that would respond so well to performance standards like this. No need to hesitate if you do not have the Abbado and even if you do this is hard to resist!
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
As good as it gets - Bravo!Oct. 17 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I just finished listening to this performance of Mahler's 2nd Symphony and I can't wipe the smile off my face! Not only is the Blu-ray fidelity absolutely perfect, but the video quality and tastefully well-informed camera angles/close-ups are icing on the cake.
The surround sound is glorious, faithfully reproducing the acoustics of the performance hall. The audio is crystal clear; I didn't miss a single note.
The *only* thing I would have done differently would have been to emphasize the final movement's off-stage ensembles in the rear surround speakers to make full use of the technology (although some might argue that would be a "gimmick" that could distract the listener since it wouldn't represent how those off-stage ensembles actually sounded in the concert hall). But that's not a criticism of how the off-stage ensembles are heard in this recording; rather, it's just a personal preference I've always wanted to hear in a Mahler's 2nd recording. Oh, well :)
Everything about this presentation is classy and in service to the music. And what music it is! I grew up with the Gilbert Kaplan recording with the London Symphony Orchestra, and have never found its equal. While I still prefer Kaplan's interpretation (and could only dream of his version being presented with the fidelity and dynamic range of this Blu-ray), Chailly's glorious performance on this disc is still breathtaking.
Note that some consider Kaplan's version(s) to be too academic and not musical enough. But since his was my first Mahler 2nd, Kaplan's was the one imprinted on my brain for better or worse. Happily, Chailly's tempos are very close to Kaplan's, so listening to this recording was like visiting an old friend who got better with age.
Regardless of whether you prefer Kaplan, Bernstein, Solti, Walter, Mehta, Klemperer, or someone else, this Blu-ray featuring Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus will knock your socks off.
If you like Mahler, get this Blu-ray. And that recommendation is coming from one of the pickiest, most opinionated, impossible-to-please perfectionists to ever troll Amazon.com's reviews!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
an experience to carry you to heavenSept. 30 2011
Mr John Haueisen
- Published on Amazon.com
This is a live Blu-ray recording (DTS HD DTS Digital Surround PCM Stereo) of a May, 2011 performance of the Leipzig Gewandhaus, conducted by Richardo Chailly, feturing soprano Christiane Oelze and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly.
It is beautifully photographed, with the cameras and editors showing a superb understanding of being in-close on the right instruments at the right time. It's a great way to see where what you're hearing is coming from. And the sound in this performance is as beautifully recorded as the images!
All sections of the orchestral parts are excellently done. The timpani sounds are incredibly good, both when loud and soft, they are dramatically impressive. Rarely will you hear the harps so clearly! Yes, in the Urlicht, the trumpets are muted with cloth covers over the bells.
Early in the 3rd movement, the "St. Antonius von Padua preaching to the fish," we get an excellent opportunity to see the rutes in action--and you can hear them in this recording far better than in any others I've heard.
Chailly is alert, "alive," and totally involved throughout the entire performance.
In the Urlicht, Sarah Connolly sings passionately, with each syllable perfectly timed and precisely articulated. I wouldn't change a note!
In the final movement, at the "Unsterblich Leben, wird, der dich rief dir geben," the soprano, Christiane Oelze is right on with every note, sung with expressiveness, without falling prey to the excessive vibrato that sometimes is noted at this point. If you are a Mahlerian, I don't think you can hear her "und sammelt Garben uns ein--die starben" without tears filling your eyes--and your soul. That's what Mahler, done well, does to many of us. It's an experience to carry you to heaven.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Incredible sound and videoOct. 9 2011
Clive S. Goodwin
- Published on Amazon.com
We have been fortunate in excellent Mahler 2's, although Abbado is the sole Bluray competition for this disc. Boulez has a wonderful dvd only release. Bernstein's very old release with the LSO is not up to the rest of his Mahler series.
Right out of the gate, let me say that I agree wholeheartedly with the other reviewers. The stupendous sound is a thing of wonder, just like it is on the companion Mahler 8 from the same conductor/orchestra.I have never heard this piece played where the percussion was, well, so percussive! I felt like I was thrown back in my seat. And not just the percussion. Every instrumental line is heard in crystalline clarity. The singers are both first class, easily as good as Abbado's, which is saying a lot.
My only reservation is the basses and cellos at the very opening of the symphony. They are not as "in your face" as in Abbado's version. Those old enough to remember the 60's and 70's DECCA recordings of this piece (Solti, Mehta) will know what I mean. The impact of of those first few bars in those discs was immense (as compared, say, to versions on EMI or Philips). But perhaps this disc is more realistically balanced. No matter - this current disc as a whole has no peer.
The video quality is superb, as is the camera work. If you have a bluray player, buy that version.
All movements are interpreted well, with enough little nuances to differentiate Chailly from Abbado.
I see that the New York Phil. with Alan Gilbert has another version of this coming out, on the same Accentus label. Should be interesting, but I can't imagine it being as great as this. I guess we'll find out.