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Reviews: Mahler: Symphony No. 2 - Nott

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Site review by Geohominid June 29, 2010
Performance:   Sonics:    
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Review by JohnProffitt April 19, 2010 (9 of 14 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
A terrific performance and recording. Nott takes a dramatic, no nonsense approach to Mahler 2, and this public performance is captured in excellent, wide-range 5.0 surround -- there is no distracting noise that I can detect from the audience. Strings are full and resonant; the brass massive but not overpowering; the percussion truly spectacular in unrestrained dynamic range; the chorus is recorded somewhat forward in perspective, and can be clearly understood -- a good thing; and the two soloists -- unfamiliar to me -- are superb.

For my taste, this performance is as good as any of my previous favorites (live or studio) in Mahler 2, and better than most; and the recording is likewise Spitzenklasse.

A triumph for Nott, Mahler and Tudor Records.

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Review by wilbur December 29, 2012 (6 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I just bought this the other day after resisting for a while. I have 1,3,4,5,7 and 9 in Nott's series, and I think it is a truly wonderful achievement overall. I personally think 7 and 9 are the best performances I have heard.
So, what of this Resurrection? Overall I am sad to say its really a bit disappointing. The first movement goes pretty well, but neither of the Landler/Scherzos really convince. Both are slow and plod quite a bit: too rhythmically intransigent. Thus they miss the whimsical aspect that makes this music so amazing. "Urlicht" is OK. The mezzo is OK, but again, it never really gets off the ground. After the symphony was over I put on a bit of Maureen Forester's performance with Slatkin (still my favourite Mahler 2) and it was a totally different, intimate, magical world. The finale also doesn't quite catch fire: the final apotheosis seems to come up suddenly and is over before one really realises (and its not a tempo issue).
Various other reviewers of other volumes in this series have harped on about the Bamberg orchestra not being a truly top class one. I think that is rubbish. This orchestra is absolutely first class. In this performance, however (which, again, is live)I don't believe they are quite up to the standard they have set previously. The cellos, in particular, so often showcased in this symphony, seem to lack weight and fire (when required). It all sounds a bit genteel. Then we get to the last movement and there are some real problems. The sustained trumpet high C (admittedly cruel) costs the player audible effort to initiate, and it is agonisingly under pitch after that. The tuning in the long ruminating dialogue between the offstage brass and onstage high wind is also pretty ordinary. Again, its a live performance, but these things really grate, with this listener at least.
So, while there are some nice things, I don't think I will be returning to this very often. The sound is very good mostly, although it sounds a little congested in the upper midrange sometimes, more so than other recordings in this series.

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