The Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle have a special relationship with Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony. After all, it was with this orchestra that the composer presented his work to the music world in December 1895. The symphony also has a special place in the biography of Simon Rattle.
Rattle himself once said, “Mahler’s Second Symphony is a piece that I have been involved with all my musical life. In fact, it was the piece that made me take up conducting in the first place when I heard it in a live performance aged 12. Mahler aimed to put the entire world into a symphony. And this world goes from the death rites of some unnamed hero through a memory of what life was in both its beauty and its horror and final resurrection and redemption. It is on a vast canvas with many performers, and for me it is one of the most moving of all orchestral works.”
In addition to Richard Strauss, Hugo Wolf was the most significant composer with whom Mahler was personally well acquainted. At times they were even close friends. As a prelude to the Second Symphony, the Rundfunkchor Berlin sings three choral works by Wolf – real discoveries, in which Romantic colours are paired with innovative impact.