Notes & Reviews:
With its enormous vocal, choral and orchestra forces, Mahler's Eight Symphony, later dubbed "Symphony of a Thousand," is one of the largest and longest symphonies in the active repertoire. Part one, inspired by the Witsuntide Vesper hymn Veni creator spiritus, is an invocation to the Creator. Part two, a setting of the closing scene from Goethe's Faust, depicts Faust's redemption through wisdom and love. "Try to imagine the whole universe beginning to ring and resound" was how Mahler himself described the impact of the closing pages of the symphony.
Antoni Wit's performance is praiseworthy... sensitive, beautifully balanced, almost modest in its adherence to Mahler's instructions, and always focused on building the magnificent edifice so it can astound and persuade. He is blessed with fine orchestra, choruses, and vocalists... there is some audible advantage to the Blu-ray.
As with all true Mahlerians, Wit has the finale of this sprawling symphony firmly in his sights from the first bar. The inexorable undertow, that tremble of anticipation, is keenly felt, especially in the transported singing of the finale. Goodness, I'd forgotten just how unerring Wit is here, the closing peroration arriving in a blaze of triumph, organ, bells and huge tam-tam hurled into one's listening room as never before. I can only guess at how immersive this must sound in a properly configured multi-channel system.
Wit's Mahler 8 has always been a hidden gem in the Mahler discography, and now this Blu-ray makes it shine with even more lustre than before. True, one pays a bit more for this than the CD, but the audible - and emotional - gains make this a mandatory purchase for anyone interested in superb Mahler and even better sound.
Journal de Montreal
To be carried away by the scale and those few moments of bliss, the symphony of a thousand is still of an imposing character, if not great. Beautifully filmed, this work directed by Antoni Wit introspective way offers the desired dramatic progression. A nice gift for the right price.
At one time or another, many of the world's leading 20th and 21st century conductors have taken on this "King Kong" of a score. Of the more than 50 available recordings, the Eighth Symphony has been very fortunate, receiving a number of outstanding readings. However, most are standard 2-channel analog or digital recordings so the space essential to a full appreciation of this mighty work is simply lacking. I have kept a soft spot in my heart for the 1971 Solti/Chicago Symphony Orchestra recording as I saw these forces perform it live in Orchestra Hall. While its soloists and orchestra are among the best ever recorded, it now seems somewhat overwrought, when compared to the present recording. If Wit's soloists might yield some vocal ground to their better known counterparts, the whole of this recording far exceeds the sum of its parts. My yardstick for a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 is that it should transport the listener to a state approaching bliss. And, at its conclusion, was I ever blissful! Mahlerians, rejoice! This is a performance that you will gladly return to, over and over.
Recording information: Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall (06/01/2005-06/06/2005).
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Works DetailsMahler, Gustav : Symphony no 8 in E flat major
- Conductor: Antoni Wit
- Notes: Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall (06/01/2005-06/06/2005)
- Running Time: 1 min. 26 sec.
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Form: Orchestral
- Written: 1906-1907