Notes and Editorial Reviews
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A CONCERT FOR NEW YORK
In Remembrance and Renewal – The Tenth Anniversary of 9/11
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor, “Resurrection”
Dorothea Röschmann, soprano
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
New York Choral Artists
New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Alan Gilbert, conductor
Recorded live at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, New York City, 10 September 2011.
Interview with Alan Gilbert and Zarin Mehta
Picture format: 1080i Full-HD
Sound format: PCM Stereo / DTS-HD Master Audio
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: German, English, French
Running time: 96 mins (concert) + 14 mins (bonus)
No. of Discs: 1 (BD 25)
Symphony No. 2,
Alan Gilbert, cond; Dorothea Röschmann (sop); Michelle DeYoung (mez); New York Choral Artists; New York P
ACCENTUS ACC 10241 (Blu-ray: 111:48) Live: New York 9/11/2011
Alan Gilbert and Zarin Mehta on
A Concert for New York
The Mahler Second is beginning to rival Beethoven’s Ninth as the symphony of choice for events both commemorative and celebratory. The title of this video is
A Concert for New York
, with the subtitle
In Remembrance and Renewal: The 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
Mahler once again served as a balm and catharsis for that unthinkable tragedy: The Sixth Symphony was recorded by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony at concerts beginning a day after the attacks. That these two works, so different in genesis and meaning, could help to provide solace for so many is a testament to the healing power of music and particularly of Mahler’s music.
For reasons that I will elaborate below, it’s probably best to approach this video as a documentary rather than as a straight concert video. In the 14-minute bonus short, both Alan Gilbert and Zarin Mehta allude to the special relationship that the New York Philharmonic has with the Mahler Second—Mehta mentions that the “Resurrection” was played in memory of JFK (though it was the Beethoven Ninth that memorialized Abraham Lincoln—which comes as no surprise, since the Mahler Second hadn’t been written yet). I don’t suppose that there are any orchestra members still active who participated in “Resurrection” recordings by Bruno Walter and Leonard Bernstein in 1958 and 1963, respectively; this newer generation, though, honors that past, as well as the Mahler legacy that reaches back a century to Mahler himself.
The producers of this video decided to integrate the concert audience into the viewing experience in a unique way. Concertgoers could gather in the plaza outside Lincoln Center and watch and listen to the concert on a huge screen. Views of this audience, as well as shots of the New York City skyline and streets, alternate with views inside Avery Fisher Hall. Unfortunately, though I appreciate that these gestures were intended to commemorate the concert as a special occasion, they distract the viewer from the concert itself; as the camera pans the audience or the street, ambient noises intrude on the audio track, too.
As an interpretation and recording, the outer movements don’t quite capture the dramatic impact of CDs from Simon Rattle or Michael Tilson Thomas; Gilbert’s is by no means a cool interpretation, but the larger emotional gestures of the score don’t produce the effect of the former recordings. The finale is built on an expansive scale, more than 38 minutes, but here again the tension is sometimes allowed to slacken, particularly after the entrance of the chorus. The inner movements have charm and lilt (Andante), and the “quietly flowing tempo” that Mahler indicates (Scherzo); “Urlicht” is taken at a very slow pace, and Michelle DeYoung’s prominent vibrato tends to exaggerate the tempo. Dorothea Röschmann, on the other hand, brings her pure, limpid tone to her solos in the finale, and here DeYoung is the perfect contrast.
The sound is not ideal. In both surround and PCM stereo modes, it is overly bright, with the brass and cymbals too prominent; microphones at the front of the stage render the soloists too loud in comparison to the chorus, which is unfortunate, as the singing of the latter is full-bodied and committed. Instrumental definition could be clearer, and there is one anomaly: Though seated to the conductor’s extreme right, the basses sound from the center left (ironically, just where Mahler would have placed them). I can only assume that miking or post-production decisions account for this odd but by no means fatal effect.
In sum, then, this is not my first choice among video releases of the Mahler Second—that recommendation remains the outstanding Boulez Blu-ray from Berlin (reviewed above). As a video memento of a very special concert, though, it is more than adequate, and I recommend it on that basis.
FANFARE: Christopher Abbot
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 2 in C minor "Resurrection" by Gustav Mahler
Michelle DeYoung (Mezzo Soprano),
Dorothea Röschmann (Soprano)
New York Choral Artists,
New York Philharmonic
Written: 1888/1896; Germany
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