Anyone who would even entertain the notion of reading anything contained in this space knows enough about Mahler’s Second Symphony to make any possible explanation I may put forth essentially fruitless. I could wax on about the epic funeral music of the 1st movement, and wax off about the apocalyptic finale, but we all know the story. This piece is enormously popular, and we’ve all heard it at least once, or in some cases hundreds of times (I have a condition!).
Ever since the “Bernstein” revival of Mahler’s music, it has become a key component of every orchestra’s repertoire (you could make a reasonably compelling claim that it has even superceded Beethoven to become THE key component, but that’s a discussion for another dimension). What does this mean? That every conductor, band, and Forbes magazine regular has performed, recorded, or been interviewed about this music, often on more than one occasion.
Why, then, should we even bother listening to yet another interpretation of this warhorse? Two reasons:
1) It’s Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony…they of the universally acclaimed performance and recording of the First Symphony that tore your face off within the calendar year. I have no qualms whatsoever about declaring that no orchestra alive and kicking today has a greater range of expression than the folks in Pittsburgh. They can kick into gears that other bands simply don’t possess (think of them as the 1967 Shelby GT 500 with nitrous booster of orchestras). To say that Mahler’s Second demands a wide range of expression is like saying that Kim Kardashian demands marginally noteworthy black guys; both also have “rear ends” that take 34 minutes to experience. Add in Honeck’s solid Mahler track record and you have all the makings…
2) It’s free.
With that in mind, here are the links.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Manfred Honeck, conductor
Katy Shakelton Williams, soprano
Elizabeth deShong, mezzo soprano
Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh
12 & 14 June 2009
The symphony is contained in a single file in both mp3 and FLAC formats. You will need HJSplit or something resembling it to join the FLAC file to the point of it producing sound on your computer.