"Perhaps playing Mahler on period instruments is one of the few ways in which this overexposed music can be made to sound fresh. Decently performed Mahler symphonies can be sensational, life-changing events. Dull interpretations are invariably tortuous... this live OAE disc is incredibly engaging; a modestly proportioned Mahler anthology which leaves you actively wanting to hear more instead of searching for the aspirin. Totenfeier began life as a one-off symphonic poem, 22 minutes of funereal screeches and grunts, soon recycled in slightly modified form as the opening movement of the Resurrection Symphony. The more modest original scoring makes the music sound punchier, edgier. Jurowski’s wonderful orchestra play like angels, the narrow-bore brass incredibly present but never strident. Jurowski also understands the Mahler idiom, with elegant, restrained string portamenti in the work’s reflective moments. Magical. And so is Sarah Connolly’s vocal in the Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, her voice perfectly attuned to the colours made by the OAE’s winds. Mahler’s typically violent mood shifts are already present in this early song cycle; I’m always knocked sideways by the abrupt opening roar of the third song. It shocks more than ever here... Nicely recorded too."
Graham Rickson - The Arts Desk - November 2012
"In 1888, while he was in the process of completing his First Symphony, Mahler drafted a symphonic poem that he called Totenfeier (Funeral Rites). Though it was originally intended as a self-contained work, he debated for five years whether to extend it into a full-scale symphony, before taking the plunge, revising what he had already written and transforming it into the first movement of what would be his Second Symphony, the monumental Resurrection. Yet in its original form, as Vladimir Jurowski’s gripping performance (from a Royal Festival Hall concert last year) shows, it’s already a fearsomely original conception, without the sheer muscle of the final version perhaps, but still unlike anything in the orchestral repertory at that time. The OAE’s period instruments emphasise its rawness, just as they point up the anguished detail of the accompaniments to the Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, in which mezzo Sarah Connolly allows the words and Mahler’s treatment of them to speak for themselves, without unnecessary gilding..." ****
Andrew Clements - The Guardian - November 2012
"Mahler, to put it mildly, is not an obvious follow-up for an ensemble still fresh from recording Monteverdi. Nor is this approach for all tastes. Gone are many tone colours and lush sonorities. Tempi, too, tend to push forwards, leaving little room for the music to expand. But as the OAE show in their reading of Totenfeier (’Funeral Rites’), Mahler’s initial excursion into orchestral writing that was later incorporated substantially into his Second Symphony, even a composer this familiar can bear further enlightenment. Paired with Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (’Songs of a Wayfarer’), this music makes a fine composer snapshot. In response to recent recordings placing Mahler as a symphonic descendant of Brahms and song-writing successor to Schumann, the real figure looming here is Schubert. As a result, the Lieder remain wonderfully transparent, though mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly matches the orchestra’s single-mindedness almost to a fault. While Connolly’s dark vocal hues fully convey Mahler’s melancholy, her singing offers few of the glimpses of joy that ultimately makes the music seem far more tragic... this is a recognisable portrait of Mahler as a young man, rather than an elder composer of 10 symphonies looking backwards. And for that reason alone, it deserves a place on the shelf."
Ken Smith - Gramophone magazine - December 2012
"If you know Mahler’s Second Symphony, you know his earlier symphonic poem Totenfeier. Well, not quite. Totenfeier, with its orchestration beefed up and with different handling of key moments, became the first movement of the symphony. Vladimir Jurowski’s brisk and thrusting account with the period instrument players of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment makes a strong case for the composer’s original thoughts. Mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly’s performance of the slightly earlier Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen is equally unaffected. However, pace period performance, her adjustment to the vocal style of the late 19th century is minimal." ****
Michael Dervan - Irish Times - November 2012
Music **** (Very Good) Sound ****(Very Good)
Michael Kube - Fono Forum magazine - January 2013
Performance ***** Recording ****
David nice - BBC Music magazine - January 2012
"... This is a disc that captivated me, and it’s one I would strongly recommend to any Mahlerian with a sense of adventure."
Nigel Simeone - International Record Review - December 2012
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