With this release, Music Director Emeritus Yoel Levi and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra have completed a well-received series of six of the symphonies of Mahler for Telarc—Symphonies No. 4 (with Songs of A Wayfarer), 5, 6, 7, and most recently, the First, subtitled the "Titan," including the lovely original "Blumine" movement.
Levi leads the ASO and Chorus, along with internationally acclaimed soprano Barbara Bonney and mezzo-soprano Mary Phillips, in the poignant and powerful Symphony No. 2, the "Resurrection" Symphony. The two-disc set also features the Adagio—the opening movement from Mahler's incomplete Tenth Symphony—the only movement from that work to be substantially completed by the composer himself.
Mahler's Symphony No. 2 was the first of his symphonies to incorporate singing—mainly of songs he wrote on texts taken from the folk poem collection, Des Knaben Wunderhorn ("The Youth's Magic Horn")—and the first major symphony by any composer to use singing in some thirty years (since Lizst composed his "Faust" Symphony). Mahler himself alluded to Beethoven's mighty Ninth Symphony when he spoke of his need to use words to support his musical ideas.
The Second Symphony took Mahler over seven years to complete. The work opens with a heroic "funeral march," continues with an Andante in the style of an Austrian Landler; proceeds to a Wunderhorn movement incorporating the song "St. Anthony of Padua's Sermon to the Fish;" and concludes with the towering fourth movement, which opens with a hushed mezzo-soprano solo (another Wunderhorn song) and culminates with full chorus, both soloists, and orchestra in majestic grandeur. The complete symphony was premiered in Berlin by the composer himself in 1895 and was received with cheering by the rapt audience.
In demand by opera, concert, and recital presenters throughout North America and abroad, American mezzo-soprano Mary Phillips is an accomplished musician with a rare ability to interpret new works. Mahler's Symphony No. 2 has provided her introduction to several orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta.
Widely recognized as a superlative recital and concert artist, Barbara Bonney has been praised for her clear, radiant tone, interpretive gifts, and stylish versatility in a broad repertoire that ranges from the Baroque to twentieth-century music. This is her second appearance on a Telarc disc with the ASO; she previously recorded Mendelssohn's Elijah (CD-80389) under the late Robert Shaw.