Firma Melodiya presents a recording of Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony as interpreted by Yuri Temirkanov.
The Second Symphony was a landmark in Mahler’s artistic biography. It took him six years to compose (1888 to 1894), and chronologically it concurred with the swift rise of his conducting career. For the first time Mahler addressed a tragic collision of the inevitability of death thus casting doubt on the purpose of human existence (“Why did you live? Why did you suffer? Is it all an enormous frightful joke?” the composer wrote to a friend).
The Second Symphony became Mahler’s first vocal one. Just like Beethoven, he needed a word to completely expose his idea, and the words were found in Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock’s ode (“Rise again, yes, you shall rise again / My dust”) – the answer to the symphony’s main question was found in the Christian idea of Resurrection.
The large-scale line-up and huge volume of the symphony (it lasts more than 80 minutes) did not prevent it from becoming one of Mahler’s most popular works, and it has been subjected to numerous interpretations by conductors.
Yuri Temirkanov is a prominent representative of Ilya Musin’s school, who now heads the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Society and previously conducted the orchestra of the State Academic Kirov (now Mariinsky) Opera and Ballet Theatre for many years. With that orchestra, he was one of the first in the USSR who recorded Mahler’s Second Symphony, in 1980. The recording features Kirov Theatre soloists Evgenia Gorokhovskaya and Galina Kovalyova.