MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection."
Marlis Petersen, soprano; Janina Bacchle, mezzo-soprano; Wiener Singakademie/Wiener KammerOrchester/Gilbert Kaplan, cond.
AVIE AV2290 (2 disks) TT" 86:39
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WEINBERG: Symphony No. 12 "In memoriam D. Shostakovich" (1976). The Golden Key Ballet Suite No. 4.
St. Petersburg State Symphony Orch/Vladimir Lande, cond.
NAXOS 8.573085 TT: 75:40
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Mahler's massive "Resurrection" symphony in a chamber orchestra version? That's what this is, performed by Mahler Symphony No. 2 specialist Gilbert Kaplan, who already has recorded the work twice. His second, with the Vienna Philharmonic, was issued about a decade ago and mentioned on this site (REVIEW). That review covers in detail Kaplan's history with this music. The conductor's earlier recording with the London Symphony was issued about about 25 years ago and was incredibly well received , the best-selling recording of the work up to that time, although now it is unavailable. Kaplan's intention was to create a version for smaller orchestra so that it could be performed by those groups and, with the assistance of Rob Mahes, he has done just that. Kaplan, a multi-millionaire, has devoted much of his energy (and money) to the cause of Mahler, and is founder of the Kaplan Foundation for the purpose of research, exhibitions and recordings. The aim of this project was to provide a way Mahler Two could be performed by the same size orchestra as that used for Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Some minor adjustments had to be made in instrumentation and these are described in detail in program notes. Nothing is said of the important organ part, which is a major obstacle for many smaller performing groups. Doubtless this revised version this will lead to many performances of this mighty symphony, but I'm sure most audiences will prefer the composer's final thoughts on size of the orchestra. This new recording (two disks for the price of one full-price disk) is important to show well the score adapts itself to lesser forces, but the performance for obvious reasons cannot do full justice to the symphony. The two soloists.disappoint, with suspect pitch lacking the radiant sound essential for Mahler. Audio is excellent and full texts are provided. A major disappointment is that there is only one track for the final sections. Should you wish to hear only the choral ending, you'll have to do a lot of fast-forwarding.

August 2008, S.G.S. wrote a glowing review of a Chandos CD of Mieczyslaw Weinberg's concertos for cello, flute and clarinet by (REVIEW). About a year ago, he wrote equally enthusiastically about a Naxos CD of the composer's Rhapsody on Moldavian themes and Symphony No. 6 with the St. Petersburg State Symphony directed by Vladimir Lande (REVIEW). Now we have another issue in this important Naxos series with the same performers offering the composer's largest full orchestra symphony along with a generous suite of music for the the ballet The Golden Key, . The symphony, composed in 1976, was written a year after the death of Shostakovich, who had been a friend of Weinberg's for more than three decades. There are four movements, the first is the longest (20:40), of stark unyielding intensity followed by a relatively brief (8:20) scherzo, the only glimpse of joy in the entire work. The brooding third movement leads directly into the finale which begins with a marimba solo also featured in the quiet, brooding ending of the symphony. Like Shostakovich, Weinberg composed for the ballet, the first of his two, The Golden Key, dates from 1954/55 and tells the story of lives of puppets headed by Burratino. The 18-minute suite heard here consists of 8 lively dances ending with " The Pursuit". All of this shows Weinberg in a light mood, far removed from the despair of the Symphony. The performances are dedicated, but I wish the orchestra had a bigger sound. At any rate, this is a major issue, the only currently availed of these two important works by a major Russian composer.

R.E.B. (February 2014)