30th September 2016
James introduces the Münchner Philharmoniker's new label with a double-bill of stirring Romantic masterworks conducted by Valery Gergiev.
The first releases from the Munich Philharmonic’s own recording label feature sensational performances of works by two composers with whom the orchestra is closely associated: Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 and Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4.
The recording of Mahler’s Second Symphony was made during the opening concerts of Valery Gergiev’s first season as Music Director of the Munich Philharmonic. Since first coming to prominence after winning the Karajan Conducting Competition at the age of 24, Gergiev has established himself as one of the world’s great conductors and communicators on the value and role of music in today’s society.
The Munich Philharmonic had an especially close relationship with Gustav Mahler and has long been associated with his music. Mahler conducted the Munich Philharmonic at the world premieres of his very own Fourth and Eighth Symphonies as well as Das Lied von der Erde.
Although he rarely offered direct insight into any specific meaning behind his music, Mahler’s symphonies are characterised by the sense of a composer openly expressing his emotions regarding the great struggle of “life”. His epic second symphony, often referred to as The Resurrection Symphony, culminates in a spectacular final movement, complete with chorus, as the music passes though darkness to a place of redemption and elation.
For this astonishing recording, Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic are joined by soprano Anne Schwanewilms and mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina, as well as the magnificent Munich Philharmonic Choir.
Valery Gergiev has held many of the top roles in the world of classical music and is one of the most influential conductors of our time. He is General and Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, where is has lead a renaissance of this historic institution, firmly re-establishing it as one of the world’s leading opera and ballet companies. From 2006 to 2015 he was Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. He has also enjoyed positions and close relationships with the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Pacific Music Festival and World Orchestra for Peace, whose founder Sir Georg Solti nominated him as his successor as Music Director. However, Gergiev’s role with the Munich Philharmonic is his first position with a German orchestra.
Gergiev has a peerless reputation in Russian and French repertoire. He has received acclaim around the world, and recordings with Philips, LSO Live and Mariinsky have won countless awards, especially in the music of Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Berlioz and Debussy. However, over recent decades he has become widely regarded as one of the greatest and most exciting conductors of German repertoire in the world today, garnering adulation, especially for his interpretations of Wagner, Strauss, Mahler and Bruckner – music that is at the very heart of the Munich Philharmonic’s repertoire.