Solti/LSO: Mahler Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection" - Decca SET 325-6
Box VG+ / LPs NM-
Corner wear to box; no corner breaks or splits.
This handsome 2LP box set from Decca (SET 325-26, English pressing, purple/silver WBg label, stereo, booklet and original inner sleeves included) features Sir Georg Solti's incandescent account of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 in D minor 'Resurrection', recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (Director: John Alldis), with soloists Heather Harper (soprano) and Helen Watts (contralto).
This remarkable performance was set down in the fabled acoustics of London’s Kingsway Hall in May 1966 (producer: David Harvey / engineer: Gordon Parry).
Wrote Editor David Hurwitz in his review of the Decca Originals CD re-issue for ClassicsToday.com:
"Georg Solti's first recording of the "Resurrection" Symphony, dating from 1966, belongs with his LSO accounts of the First and Ninth as among the great Mahler performances of the "first wave" of stereo versions. Along with the Decca Ring, these releases established Solti as a major conductor, and they roundly outclass his steely-toned Chicago remakes (with the exception of the Third Symphony, which is dreadful in both cases). Solti attacks the opening movement with incredible vehemence and has the (closely miked) LSO cellos and basses playing like the very personification of evil intent. If you haven't heard this performance for a while, this movement alone eloquently demonstrates just how exciting Solti was in his day, and how few performances have equaled him since.
"The two inner movements are taken swiftly, but also graciously in the Andante, and with plenty of color and character in the scherzo. Helen Watts is excellent in "Urlicht", and Solti whips up the early orchestral episodes of the finale to a fine frenzy. The LSO Chorus (under John Alldis) sings beautifully throughout the movement's second half. And if you thrill to the sound of Mahler's bells and tam-tams in the closing pages, this performance seldom has been equaled for sheer tintinnabulatory splendor (and it serves as a useful corrective to the many, many versions that wimp out in this respect).
"The sonics always were oddly interventionist, especially in the finale. For example, the eruption of the "dead march" features very noticeable changes of perspective, the deep bass has a "woody" quality as though cut off at the lowest frequencies, the final chorus could use more organ, and the very last chord features a crescendo quite evidently managed as much at the mixing console as from the podium. Never mind: this is still an extremely enjoyable, "take no prisoners" interpretation, which is exactly as it should be. Now on a single disc timing out at slightly more than 80 minutes, it becomes a prime recommendation, especially at the modest price. I'm delighted to welcome it back."
It is a wonderful performance and has never sounded so splendid as here – outstanding!
Included is a full-size, 4-page booklet with insightful and eloquent liner notes by Mahler authority Deryck Cooke, printed in English only. The lovely cover photo is credited to Decca’s Publicity Art Department.