Minnesota Orchestra, “Mahler Symphony No. 2, ‘Resurrection’ ” (Bis)
It’s been 84 years since the Minneapolis Symphony became the first U.S. orchestra to record Mahler’s Second Symphony under music director Eugene Ormandy. His tempos in the symphony are among the fastest ever. (The recording is available on YouTube.)
Now known as the Minnesota Orchestra, the group’s current music director, Osmo Vänskä, takes a considerably more expansive view in his new recording of the Second Symphony. This enables exceptionally precise articulation of rhythmic detail in the opening “Funeral Rites” movement, particularly in the scrunching double bass figurations and snapping cello lines that launch Mahler’s sober meditation on mortality and the meaning of human struggle. It’s a dark, introspective reading of the movement. And yet the central cataclysm pulls no punches, with the vertiginous string descent perfectly executed at the movement’s helter-skelter conclusion.
The second and third movements are more relaxed, allowing for plenty of charming, piquant woodwind playing to register.
Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke’s moving account of the “Urlicht” movement is a brief oasis of calm before the storm of the finale, where the “Resurrection” of the symphony’s title takes place. Vänskä builds this 35-minute movement patiently, but there is no stinting on raw power when the Minnesota Chorale joins for the apocalyptic final moments. The startlingly clear sound captured in Orchestra Hall by Bis’ engineers is a major bonus in this heaven-storming conclusion.
Those who like their Mahler to be constantly teetering on the brink of nervous exhaustion may find parts of this “Resurrection” too slow-burning and even-tempered. Vänskä doesn’t do histrionics. But the sheer range of emotional nuance here is a revelation, just as it was in the orchestra’s previous recordings of Symphonies 5 and 6.
Vänskä will complete the full cycle of Mahler symphonies before stepping down as music director in 2022. With seven more recordings to go, the series is shaping up to be a defining achievement of his Minnesota Orchestra tenure.
Future, “Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD” (Epic )
How many times can one warble variations on “When it come to emotions, I play camouflage,” not to mention “Jumpin’ on another jet” in the same robo-tripping quaver? One Future album is excellent: “Dirty Sprite 2,” named for the cough syrup habit he says he’s kicked. The others only hit a nerve sporadically, and this one has 20 tracks. So casual fans can add “Call the Coroner” to the highlight reel, with its hypnotic Buju Banton-cum-“Bodak Yellow” melody, as well as the addictive “Krazy but True.” The turntable scratching on “Crushed Up” will make you look up, but so will “Servin Killa Kam’s” “bought a new toy” just because you thought he said “toilet.”
dan weiss, Philadelphia Inquirer
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