Friday, December 29, 2006

Apocalypse indeed.

I am not in the habit of agreeing with David Hurwitz, for a lot of reasons, but his review of the finale of Iván Fischer's new Mahler 2nd is spot-on. This passage, in particular, earned my assent:

And if you thought, as I did, that the recent San Francisco performance under Michael Tilson Thomas was impressive in the closing pages, then you have to hear this--without question the most cosmically glorious finish yet captured on disc.

At 31:49 (d.2), when the chorus comes in with the triumphant, "Aufersteh'n, ja, aufersteh'n..." repeat, you sense the fullness of Mahler's vision. Too many conductors, including - but not limited to - Pierre Boulez and Simon Rattle, seem to underplay this moment on disc. A bigger mistake could not be made, as it is the very summit of the symphony. The final revelation, regarding salvation itself, is made in Mahler's vision of eschatology at that very instant. Tilson Thomas doesn't underplay it, nor does Fischer. Happily.

They don't descend into camp or parody, but they give the moment all the power and glory it needs to be really apocalyptic - in both the popular and etymological senses of the word.


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