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Mahler: Symphony no 8 / Valery Gergiev, London SO, London Symphony Chorus, Choir of Eltham College, et al

Album Summary

>Mahler, Gustav : Symphony no 8 in E flat major
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"It is almost inconceivable that any recording could capture entirely the scale and wide dynamics of this massive work with absolute fidelity, but James Mallinson (producer) Jonathan Stokes (engineer) have achieved a magnificent result using the opportunities offered by the 5.1 multi-channel mix. Definitely recommended." -sa-cd.net

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
As a concert venue St Paul's Cathedral's problems remain acute: chief culprit is the building's notorious nine-second reverberation period which gives climaxes earth-shattering power but reduces inner detail to mush.

In these circumstances the conductor's role is mainly one of damage limitation. Not that Gergiev chooses sluggish tempi to palliate the acoustics. Indeed he tends to plough on as precipitately as ever at section ends. Not for him the grand but apocryphal slowing into the first movement recapitulation as favoured by Bern- stein et al. Some exaggerated enunciation by the far-flung choral groups is presumably designed to maximise audibility. Meanwhile most of the soloists proffer Mariinsky German in vaguely Verdian style and the ladies aren't always in tune. James Mallinson and his sound team do their best with the microphones, ensuring that unique moments such as the stratospheric apparition of the Mater Gloriosa are captured for posterity. There's a more than usually sweettoned sentimentality about much of Part 2.

Belying the thrills and spills of an event in which many of the performers will have been unable to hear each other or catch much more than a glimpse of their maestro, the final Chorus Mysticus brings a real sense of gravitas and uplift. The massed voices are wonderfully hushed at the start even if the offstage trumpets register less impressively at the close (everyone sounds offstage at St Paul's). Whether this is a tribute to Gergiev's sense of the dramatic, the professionalism of his assembled artistes or sheer good luck is difficult to tell.

Shorn of applause, the reading is neatly accommodated on a single hybrid SACD and makes an appropriately idiosyncratic climax to a controversial cycle. The packaging, quite sumptuous for a bargain issue, has full texts and translations.

Penguin Guide
At once the most ambitious and the most impressive in Gergiev's variable Mahler series... The atmosphere of a great occasion is caught admirably, with the timpani and organ very impressive... A most competitive version.


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Works Details

>Mahler, Gustav : Symphony no 8 in E flat major
  • Performers: Zlata Bulycheva (Mezzo Soprano); Liudmila Dudinova (Soprano); Thomas Gerdom; Evgeny Nikitin (Baritone); Lilli Paasikivi (Mezzo Soprano); Sergey Semishkur (Tenor); Ailish Tynan (Soprano); Viktoria Yastrebova (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Valery Gergiev
  • Ensemble: Washington Choral Arts Society
  • Notes: St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England (07/09/2008-07/10/2008)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1906-1907
  • Studio/Live: Live