Mahler's second symphony is incredibly passionate and moving stuff, not as accessible as the first and fourth symphonies or quite as grand as the eighth, but it is a treat to listen to and takes you on a great spiritual journey. This performance is as close as good a performance you could possibly get of this great work. The picture and sound are generally good, though with some grainy and trebly moments. But they're not enough to spoil the impact of the performance at all. Humphrey Burton's video directing is both sensitive and cinematic, if there was anything that could have been done a little better it would have been to have more expansive shots of the orchestra. The orchestra itself play magnificently, -especially the brass section-, rich textures, great blending and musicality and beautiful sound. The ensembles are remarkably well together too. The chorus are also on top form, the sound they make is noble and majestic in equal measure and carries over the orchestra with ease. It is clear too that they are singing with passion and enjoyment of the music, that couldn't have been more apparent in the last half of the finale, haunting and touching with a sense of hope with a sound that will blow the roof off. Leonard Bernstein's conducting shows a conductor who shows great love for Mahler and actually feels the music and encourages everyone to do the same. He is always assured and brings out the moods of the symphony beautifully, his podium mannerisms and stage deportment have never been the most subtle of any conductor but they are fun and quirky to watch, though there are or will be some who may find it off-putting. Sheila Armstrong and Janet Baker sing the music beautifully and commandingly. Armstrong's voice is lyrical and soaring, but Baker is even more impressive, a firm rich mezzo voice that is highly emotive. Overall, a really powerful performance in every aspect. For fans of Mahler, Bernstein or both, it's a must. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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