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Customer Reviews

CSO & Haitink choose poise over power

This is a welcome addition to the Chicago Symphony catalog that clearly demonstrates the wonderful artistic chemistry between Maestro Haitink and his charismatic orchestra. In his fourth year as CSO Principal Conductor, Bernard Haitink enjoys a musical renaissance on the podium of Chicago's Orchestra Hall as he brings a unique quality to the identity of this great ensemble - one that combines its "sonic brilliance" (as it's often described) with a profound sense of refinement. This noble approach is so rarely found these days when the classical music scene is often focused on the "exciting" energy and glitz and glamour of other (younger) orchestras and conductors. The complexity of Mahler's writing takes care of the natural dynamic extremes. To this listener, it was the elegance of form, range of nuances and subtlety that were most memorable about this recording of Mahler’s Second. As with previous CSO Resound releases produced by James Mallinson, there is a sense of physical separation between the performance and the listener that unfortunately dampens the impression of the orchestra’s genuine sound. However, Christianne Stotijn does a beautiful job in the Urlicht - she has a pure, delicate voice that seems to be the right vehicle for the musical and emotional content of the 4th movement. The CSO Chorus sounds terrific and is not overshadowed by the powerful chorales of the CSO's brass section. There is undeniably beautiful playing by the woodwind soloists and the overall blend of the string section combines both intensity and roundness. May the “Great Appeal” of this Chicago Symphony recording serve as an inspiring reminder to other orchestras (and conductors!) that it is still possible to make a Mahler recording that overwhelms with beauty and sensitivity rather than with eccentricity and volume.

Pioneering Devotion

When Bernard Haitink the 80-year-old, Dutch-born Conductor first introduced Mahler symphonies to audiences early in his career, halls were half empty. Now the composer guarantees full houses and Haitink's pioneering devotion and numerous Mahler recordings are partly responsible. This new, white-hot version of the C minor Resurrection, recorded live with the Chicago SO last year, has characteristic nobility, dynamic variety, detail, clarity, lyricism and, in the opening movement, a monumentally slow, shattering climax which makes even Klemperer's famously weighty 1961/2 EMI recording seem speedy. Portamento strings and raw yet refined brass timbre, especially, create vivid intensity. The fine soloists and beautifully blended, almost transcendentally pianissimo chorus are a bonus.

Biography

Born: March 4, 1929 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Bernard Johann Herman Haitink built a reputation as one of the finest conductors of the 20th Century with a wide repertory and meticulous...
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Mahler: Symphony No. 2, Bernard Haitink
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