Mahler Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’ – Best Recorded Version

Mahler’s second symphony requires immense attention to detail to be successfully performed. This is brilliantly observed in one of my favourite classical recordings of all time, which remains a big hit with classical music critics: Mahler Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’, Simon Rattle (conductor), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, with Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano) and Arleen Augér (Soprano). The Penguin Guide to Classical Music gives this version its highest rosette award:

‘Simon Rattle’s reading of Mahler’s second is among the very finest records he has yet made, superlative in the breadth and vividness of its sound and with a spacious reading which in its natural intensity unerringly sustains generally slow, steady speeds to underline the epic grandeur of Mahler’s visions.’

The Gramophone Classical Good CD Guide also gives this landmark recording the highest possible praise:

‘We’re dealing here with conducting akin to genius, with insights and instincts that can’t be measured with any old yardstick. Rattle’s sense of drama, of apocalyptic events, is so strong that at the final chords one is awed.’

As an alternative, Otto Klemperer’s recording with the Philharmonia Chorus and Orchestra is recommended by the Penguin Guide for its ‘intense and earth-shaking’ first movement, and ‘the mood of transcendent, heavenly happiness in the culminating passage.’

More recently, Mahler Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’, Iván Fischer (conductor), Budapest Festival Orchestra has been given fantastic reviews across the board. The 2007 Classic FM Gramophone Awards presents the Editor’s Choice Award to this recording:

‘Here Fischer urges his players ever forward – at once catching the sense of headlong urgency, of an orchestra that might at any moment career off the rails, and yet he manages to hold back a killer punch for the final pages.’

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