Andrew Clements
The Guardian
November 2012

In 1888, while he was in the process of completing his First Symphony, Mahler drafted a symphonic poem that he called Totenfeier (Funeral Rites). Though it was originally intended as a self-contained work, he debated for five years whether to extend it into a full-scale symphony, before taking the plunge, revising what he had already written and transforming it into the first movement of what would be his Second Symphony, the monumental Resurrection. Yet in its original form, as Vladimir Jurowski's gripping performance (from a Royal Festival Hall concert last year) shows, it's already a fearsomely original conception, without the sheer muscle of the final version perhaps, but still unlike anything in the orchestral repertory at that time. The OAE's period instruments emphasise its rawness, just as they point up the anguished detail of the accompaniments to the Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, in which mezzo Sarah Connolly allows the words and Mahler's treatment of them to speak for themselves, without unnecessary gilding. With just 38 minutes of music the album is short measure, but it is available at mid-price.