Originally Posted by DarkAngel
Boulez M2 has been removed from Tower Records basket
If yourmusic.com carries it I will probably buy just because I have most of the remaining Boulez set..........HB
Surprising that Boulez could put out very nice M3 with VPO recently and then have such a lackluster M2..........be interested to see if PS also pans the Boulez M2
I have been consistently frustrated by professional reviews of this piece. Most reviewers have panned Boulez for conducting this work precisely as any serious listener of his would have expected. Mbhaub's is a very solid, very critical (in the best sense) review with which I - to a certain point - agree. The recording, compared especially to Kaplan's demonstration-quality disc, could have been better done. In fact, other records in the Boulez Mahler cycle have better sound and were recorded ten years ago. I am not sure that his soloists are the best for the piece, but there have been plenty of otherwise excellent M2s with bad soloists.
I'll be slightly less-equivocal than Mbhaub: do not buy this recording unless you're a Mahler completist or a Boulez fanatic.
It is too idiomatically "Boulez" and, thus, too specialized to appeal to a wide audience. I loved every second of it, but I am definitely the latter of the "buy list." Broadly speaking, there are about five or ten better recordings than this one. Even among analytical recordings, it is only second or third, after Kaplan II and maybe Levi. In a word, it's weird. The Wiener Philharmoniker is characteristically elegant and underinvolved, Boulez makes them play all the notes as correctly as he thinks they should be (Mb: have you ever heard Boulez really let a band rip?), and the singers aren't fantastic. Some moments are "incandescent" and others are "pure Boulez." This is a return to his earlier Mahler and a departure from such "crossover hits" as his M3 or M6.
However, if you love Boulez and "get" his Mahler: this might be the best recording of the cycle (though the M3 makes a case, too). His handling of the Urlicht
is exquisite, despite DeYoung (though will anyone ever top Christa Ludwig?), and done with great sensitivity. I found moments in the last movement to be spectacular, but can see how people wouldn't agree.
Too weird, too spotty. If you get it cheap, then go for it. If you love Boulez, you have it.