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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Classical Music > Symphony > Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor/“Resurrection” – Pierre Boulez (Opus Arte HD-DVD)

Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor/“Resurrection” – Pierre Boulez (Opus Arte HD-DVD)


Picture: B     Sound: B+     Extras: C-     Concert: B



As noted before, when a new format rolled in for the recording industry to try out, they used to use it on Classical Music first.  Times may have changed, but symphonic works in particular are so hard to capture, that it is no surprise that they remain the most challenging works to reproduce and bring to life on stage and at home.  Pierre Boulez’s remarkable performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor/“Resurrection” has become the first such work to make it to a high definition format.


The fine Opus Arte label has issued it on HD-DVD, will likely follow with a Blu-ray and in this case, it is a fine new way to show Classical Music at its height.  Though many multi-channel Classical Symphonies have been issued in the nearly defunct DVD-Audio format and still-standing Super Audio Compact Disc format with High Definition Sound better than CDs and any Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus codec could ever hope for, there is something actually exciting about seeing an entire orchestra this close and vivid playing such a major rich work.


Running 89 minutes, the 1080i 1.78 X 1 image may have some limits, but its color and the way Michael Beyer directs this (along with fine editing choices) makes this work (finished 1894, making it 114 years old and counting as of this posting) is also colorful, has nice depth and puts to shame many an HD concert shoot we have seen in all formats.  Add the impressive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (better than the standard Dolby Digital 5.1, also included for backwards compatibility) mix and the combination makes you feel why so many want to contribute money to keep the arts and symphony alive.


The movements of the piece are as follows:


1)     Allegro maestoso

2)     Andante moderato

3)     [Scherzo] In ruhig fliessender Bewegung - attacca

4)     Urlicht “O Roschen rot!” Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht - attacca

5)     Im Tempo des Scherzos.  Wild herausfahrend “aufersten, ja auferstehn wirst du”



Diana Damrau is the soprano and Petra Lang the mezzo soprano joining Boulez, who records for one of the greatest of all Classical Music labels, Deutsche Grammophon.  This was performed live at the Philharmonie, Berlin on March 26th to the 27th, 2005 and the crowd is a plus.  Instantly, this is one of the great music demo discs in high definition and those who want something special and high class for their home theater systems will want to pick it up as soon as possible.


Though information on this classic work is all over the place in print and on the Internet, a nice multi-lingual booklet has been included in the tradition of the best Classical Music CDs with a solid essay and a few stills.  If the Classical high definition discs continue to be this strong, it could help revive the genre beyond those ever too few who appreciate it.  The fact that the work is one of the best only helps that matter.


Cheers to Maestro Boulez!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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