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Symphony No. 2 in C Minor

Kathleen Ferrier
Jo Vincent
Otto Klemperer

Holland Festival July 12th 1951

CD Contents

Symphony No. 2. In C minor "The Resurrection The Original Broadcast Recording
1 Broadcast Commentary (in Dutch and German) 1:00
2 I. Allegro maestoso 17:46
3 II. Andante moderato 9:28
4 III. In ruhig fliessender Bewegung 10:43
5 IV. “Urlicht” (Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht) 4:04
6 V. In tempo der Scherzo. 29:57
7 Broadcast Commentary (in Dutch and German) 0:50

ADD Recorded Live on 12 th July 1951- Series Producer: Jonathan Wearn - Restoration: Richard Caniell, IPRMS, British Columbia, Canada - Series consultant: Keith Hardwick †

Reviews for CD 2210 Symphony No. 2 in C Minor

MUSICWEB – April 2006

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Symphony No. 2 in C minor Resurrection (1894)

Jo Vincent (soprano)
Kathleen Ferrier (contralto)
Amsterdam Toonkunst Choir
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Otto Klemperer
rec. Holland Festival, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 12 July 1951. Live radio aircheck.

In what must be one of the most beautifully produced re-issue packages that I have ever seen, Guild have given us a splendid treasure in this reissue of the Otto Klemperer's 1951 Mahler 2. Audiences flocked from all over the world to the Mahler festival from which this performance derives. It is most notable for the presence of the great British contralto Kathleen Ferrier, who at the time was beginning to show symptoms of the cancer that was to take her life at a tragically young age just two years later.

One of the great singers of the twentieth century, Ferrier has now passed into mythology, but unlike other artists who have died young, there seems to be little if any evidence that the halo that now shines around her memory is anything but absolutely deserved. Ferrier was particularly known for her interpretations of the music of Mahler, which at the time of her death, was still only rarely performed in concert halls and even less often recorded. It would take until the 1960s and the devoted and driving personality of Leonard Bernstein to bring Mahler's music into worldwide acceptance.

Although he is not a conductor that immediately leaps to mind at the mention of Mahler, Klemperer was one of the composer's early and significant champions, and brings the music to life with not only great exhilaration, but also with a certain transparency. He is careful with the thicker textures, seeing to it that the appropriate instruments sing when called for. Even in the loudest passages there is a complete sense of balance. I was also pleased with Klemperer's tempo choices, never so slow as to be lugubrious.

Both soloists turn in outstanding performances, Ferrier cutting right to the heart of the texts, presenting the idea of the afterlife with such radiance and hope. It is a shame that Jo Vincent, an exemplary singer in her own right, is given so little recognition in this release, but then again, the point here is to sell the Ferrier name.

Sound quality is on the whole very fine considering the source material. On occasion we are hit with the repeated spin sound of a less than flawless record; I am assuming from the sound of the background noise that these are acetate discs and not vinyl or shellac. There is a bit of drop out here and there, and the big choral entrance is merely a wash of sound, with there being no text comprehensibility whatever. This is to be expected given the age and quality of the source discs.

What is most impressive about this and nearly every other Guild release that I have ever encountered is the superb documentation. This is the way that all classical CDs should be presented; with detailed essays on the artists and the music, factually accurate and scholarly written, but without the academic mishmash and the blow by blow descriptions of the music. I will confess that I found Richard Caniell's essay on Ferrier's life and work just a bit over the top in its gushing admiration of the artist, but he is entitled to admire whomever he pleases, and there is nothing wrong with being a bit effusive on a subject that one finds exciting.

I was also thrilled, given that I am a pretty big fan of early radio, that the announcer's commentaries were left intact, giving us that wonderful “War of the Worlds” feeling that can only come with placing oneself in the past, in front of an old radio, thus gaining entrance into the theatre of the mind.

This will not be a release with appeal for the casual listener. The sound quality, exceptional as it is under the circumstances, will be bothersome to those not specifically interested in historical recordings. But for those of you who are historical enthusiasts, jump on this beautiful release. It is a treasure well worth the cash outlay.

Kevin Sutton

BBC Music Magazine – January 2003

MAHLER Symphony No.2

Jo Vincent (soprano), Kathleen Ferrier (contralto)
Amsterdam Toonkunstchoir, Concertgebouw Orchestra/Otto Klemperer

Guild CD 2210 AAD mono (1951) 77.41 mins.

What a relief to turn instead to OTTO KLEMPERER's 1951 Holland Festival broadcast performance of Mahler's Resurrection with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and soloists Kathleen Ferrier and Jo Vincent in glorious form. Although, like Schuricht, Klemperer opts for fast tempi and eschews overstated rubato, there's so much more subtlety and drive in his interpretation. While this outstandingly dynamic performance has already appeared on a mid-price Decca CD, the new transfer on Guild Historical has great immediacy, and the documentation, which extends to 26 pages and includes full texts and translations, is extraordinarily generous given the price of the disc.

International Record Review August 2002

Mahler Historic

Symphony No. 2 in C minor, 'Resurrection'.

Jo Vincent (soprano); Kathleen Ferrier (contralto)
Amsterdam Toonkunst Choir, Concertgebouw Orchestra / Otto Klemperer.

Guild Immortal Performances CD2210
(super-budget price 1 hour 18 minutes, ADD)
Remastering Engineer Richard Caniell.
Date Broadcast performance from the Holland Festival on July 12th, 1951.

Mahler Reissue

Symphonies - No. 2 in C minor, 'Resurrection'; No. 10 in F sharp: Adagio.

Elly Ameling (soprano); Aafje Heynis (contralto); Netherlands Radio Choir; Concertgebouw Orchestra / Bernard Haitink.

Philips Eloquence 468 194-2 (super-budget price, two discs, 1 hour 47 minutes, ADD). From AXS60001/6, 6700 048. Date 1968.

These two performances of the Resurrection Symphony, the first live from the Holland Festival in 1951, the second a studio recording from 1968, are both impressive documents, but it is hardly an exaggeration to say that they seem to inhabit different worlds. lf you happen to come by both of them, listen, as I did, to the Haitink recording first. In a hotly competitive field, it is one of the finest of what might be called central interpretations. Although the symphony is a programmatic work, Haitink ensures, first and foremost, that it maintains its formal properties. The opening, which can suggest the onset of an epileptic fit, is given as the germ from which the first movement will develop, and as is usual with Haitink's Mahler, there is a sobriety of approach which brings its own rewards, even if sometimes one wonders whether this desperate music is best served by such a mature treatment. Whether it is or not, interest is sustained and the 20-minute-Iong structure more or less coheres.

The second movement, however, is too prim. A leisurely piece, its tongue slightly in its check, Haitink's account outstays its welcome. Perhaps he was eager to make a marked contrast with the third movement, Mahler's tendency to write middle movements which are insufficiently differentiated already becoming apparent. Aafje Heynis's contralto solo is imposing, but she is no more than adequate in this understated fourth movement. The last movement once more finds Haitink successfully imparting to, or revealing in, a huge structure which can seem merely episodic a genuine coherence. This means that the final chorus of resurrection takes its proper place as the work's coping stone. The soloists, Elly Ameling characteristically radiant, help to bring it to its - on this occasion - moving close.

Go back 17 years, listen to the Dutch announcer, and then prepare for what is admittedly a far from ideal recording. This was not meant for commercial release, so sounds far less impressive than, say, Beethoven's Ninth given at Bayreuth three weeks later under Furtwängler (this Mahler performance is from July 12th, not July 6th, as Guild states). What is astonishing is that the relatively primitive sonics detract so little from appreciation of what is truly an apocalyptic experience. Klemperer was a kind of specialist in the Resurrection Symphony, using it as his visiting card on many occasions, and giving a vivid account of it in London in one of his last concerts in 1970. None of it seems tawdry under him, and though there are no Bernsteinian histrionics, the fact that it is one of those works which is supposed to make a difference to the history of the world - and while one is listening one may be persuaded that it will - is everywhere apparent. The grim intensity of this first movement (lasting three minutes less than under Haitink) yields to an enchanting second movement, which shows how charming both Mahler and his protégé could be when they put their minds to it. The transcendental nature of the work is re-established in the wonderful hush that ushers in Kathleen Ferrier's sublime singing of 'Urlicht'. Then all hell is let loose at the opening of the last movement, and we move on to the strange contrasts of last trump and twittering birds, before the final apotheosis. The recording can hardly cope with the final minutes, but it would be a small spirit who rejected the recording on that account. There is minimal interference with the original source. The notes are very full and informative.

Michael Tanner

MusicWeb - May 2002

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911).
Symphony No 2 in C Minor Resurrection
Kathleen Ferrier (con) and Joan Vincent (sop)
Concertgebouw Orchestra. Amsterdam Toonkunstchoir. Cond. Otto Klemperer
Live performance given at the Holland Festival on 6 July 1951. Bargain Price


Richard Caniell, founder and driving force behind this series, justifies the issue of this disc on two counts. The first is as a tribute to Ferrier, with whose vocal artistry and personality he is, like many others, obviously infatuated.

Of course there is another reason - Otto Klemperer. Yes, he recorded the work, under studio conditions, and in that wonderful recording venue, London's Kingsway Hall, a few years later. But, that recording, reissued as an EMI "Great Recording of the Century", lacks the exuberant vitality found in this version of the long last movement. Rössl-Majdan is no match for Ferrier although Schwartzkopf is superior to Vincent.

The informative booklet contains a number of brief essays by Caniell. The one on Ferrier is particularly poignant. One cannot say enjoyable as it relates to the deterioration of a lovely person and superb artist as she moved inexorably, in those pre-tomoxofen days (the anti-breast cancer 'wonder' drug) to a painful death. If you are a Mahler or Ferrier fan, and haven't heard this performance, which is in good sound, then invest the modest cost, you will be well rewarded.

This performance has had previous life on LP and CD but this transfer from transcription discs has been accomplished without any electronic interference. The timing shown includes Broadcast Commentary at the start (1.00) and conclusion (0.50).

Robert J Farr

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