MINNEAPOLIS, MN (December 12, 2018) — The Swedish label BIS Records is releasing its third album of the ongoing Mahler recording series in collaboration with Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra—a recording of Mahler’s Second Symphony, Resurrection, also featuring soprano Ruby Hughes, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and the Minnesota Chorale.
The album will be released on disc in the U.S. and Canada, and digitally worldwide, on February 1, 2019, but will be available in advance at Orchestra Hall and through the Minnesota Orchestra’s website, minnesotaorchestra.org, beginning December 14, 2018.
Mahler’s Second Symphony holds a special place in the Minnesota Orchestra’s history: In 1935 the Minnesota Orchestra (then called the Minneapolis Symphony) and its third Music Director Eugene Ormandy made the first American recording of Mahler’s Second Symphony, a landmark release issued on 11 two-sided 78-rpm discs. Vänskä and the Orchestra completed their recording of Mahler’s Second Symphony at Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall in June 2017, continuing a plan to record all of Mahler’s symphonies.
The Orchestra’s recording of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony received a 2018 Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance, and its recording of the Sixth Symphony was released to critical acclaim in March of this year. Since the Second Symphony was recorded, Vänskä and the Orchestra have recorded three additional Mahler symphonies—the First, the Fourth and Seventh—for future releases on the BIS label. They will record the Tenth Symphony in June 2019.
The BIS team, led by producer Robert Suff, recorded this album as a Super Audio CD (SACD), using surround sound recording technology to reproduce the sound of the concert hall as faithfully as possible. BIS Hybrid SACDs are playable on all standard CD players. Further information about the Minnesota Orchestra’s recordings on the BIS Records label can be found on the BIS website, www.bis.se.
Minnesota Orchestra Recording History
The Minnesota Orchestra, founded in 1903 as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, issued its first recording in 1924 and has since recorded more than 450 works, with Osmo Vänskä leading a particularly rich period of recording since his tenure began in 2003. The Orchestra’s Sibelius Symphonies cycle received critical praise, and the second recording in the cycle—featuring the First and Fourth Symphonies—won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. The first disc was nominated in the same category in 2012. In 2016, Vänskä and the Orchestra released a live-in-concert recording featuring Sibelius’ five-part symphonic poem Kullervo and his beloved Finlandia, plus Finnish composer Olli Kortekangas’ Migrations, a new work commissioned by the Orchestra.
The first recording of the Mahler Symphonies project featured the composer’s Fifth Symphony, and received a 2018 Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance. The Orchestra’s recording of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony was released in March 2018. Other recordings include two albums of Beethoven and Mozart piano concertos featuring Yevgeny Sudbin; a two-disc Tchaikovsky set featuring pianist Stephen Hough; and a widely-praised cycle of the complete Beethoven symphonies, of which two discs—one of the Ninth Symphony and one of the Second and Seventh—drew Grammy and Classical FM Gramophone award nominations, respectively.
Symphony No. 2, Resurrection
Mahler’s Second Symphony, equally notable for its quiet moments and its drama, begins with a funeral march for a hero and a parade of memories that range from nostalgic to grotesque. The sound of a human voice in the fourth movement begins the process of resolution, leading the way to judgement, redemption and—in an awe-inspiring clamor of fanfares and pealing bells—resurrection, as the chorus sings “I shall die so as to live!”
Ruby Hughes and Sasha Cooke
Soprano Ruby Hughes was a BBC New Generation artist from 2011 to 2013, has won a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, was shortlisted for a 2014 Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award, and was the winner of the first prize and audience prize at the 2009 London Handel competition. Her debut recital disc, Nocturnal Variations, was named BBC Music Magazine’s recording of the month in June 2016.
Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke has performed with the world’s leading orchestras, opera companies and chamber music ensembles including recent engagements with the Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra.
The Minnesota Chorale has served as the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal chorus since 2004 and is now in its 24th season under the leadership of Kathy Saltzman Romey. Founded in 1972, the Chorale is Minnesota’s preeminent symphonic chorus with a roster of over 200 singers. The Chorale is featured on two additional Orchestra recordings on the BIS label: a 2006 album of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which drew critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance; and the 2008 CD release of Stephen Paulus’ oratorio To Be Certain of the Dawn.
Mahler’s Second Symphony, Resurrection
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Ruby Hughes, soprano
Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
The Minnesota Orchestra gratefully acknowledges funding support for this project from Doug and Louise Leatherdale.