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Mahler: Symphony No. 8 / Tennstedt

Album Summary

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

Notes & Reviews:

Nicknamed the "Symphony of a Thousand," this live recording of Mahler's eighth symphony unites over 500 singers and musicians in a vibrant, life-affirming performance, led by the great Mahler interpreter Klaus Tennstedt. Soloists include some of the most celebrated operatic singers of the 20th century, including sopranos Julia Varady and Susan Bullock and tenor Kenneth Riegel. This 2-CD set features the combined choral forces of the London Philharmonic Choir and the London Symphony Chorus, as well as 50 members of the Eton College Boys' Choir. "It was an inspired a Mahler performance as Tennstedt has ever conducted, with an inevitability, a sense of spiritual grandeur and adventure, that renewed all one's youthful faith in a work which one feared might have lost its power, thrill and surprise." - Daily Telegraph

"There have been more refined, and more shapely accounts of this gargantuan work put on disc, but few with the sense of excitement and physicality that this one generates. From the first moments of the opening Veni Creator Spiritus hymn, to the final orchestral outburst...Tennstedt maintains the performance on a knife-edge of excitement" -The Guardian

"Even in the hour-long second movement, Tennstedt sustains such a high level of concentration and intensity that the attention is riveted throughout, culminating in a ecstatic peroration that overwhelms the senses...[His] probing energy and profound wisdom prove a winning combination in this epic trailblazer." -Classic FM Magazine

"As always, Tennstedt gives an impression of living by the skin of his teeth, but with a flexibility and freedom of expression that consistently draw sustenance from roots of the music...The whole opening hymn blazes with urgency...every performer's possession by the music is never in doubt...the exhilaration and spiritual reach of the performance are immense." -International Record Review

"One can easily imagine that the audience for this concert was ecstatic, because the excitement of the musicians is almost palpable, and the experience of hearing this great performance live must have been overwhelming, since that's almost what it's like on CD. Fortunately, the BBC recorded it with remarkably clear and detailed audio, and the ambient sound is virtually as clean as if it had been a studio recording. There are recordings of Mahler's Eighth that may be superior on the technical grounds of execution or reproduction, but this is certainly unbeatable for its capacity to move and inspire. Highly recommended, and required listening for Tennstedt fans." -All Music Guide

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, London (01/27/1991).


Heeere's Klaus!
This is a live recording from Royal Festival Hall made in 1991. While Tennstedt is universally admired as a Mahler interpreter, there is some controversy about whether his live recordings are more successful than those done in the studio. I come down more on the studio side myself. I acknowledge, though, that there can be some thrilling moments in a live Tennstedt recording, as there were in the 6th Symphony recorded with the LPO the same year as this one; and as there are occasionally in this disc, newly released on LPO's own label. Tennstedt often "milks" a phrase for maximum effect, while losing sight of the longer arcs of the Symphony. His highly emotional approach seems cranked up in these live recordings, while the studio recordings often have more discipline, though they still have real passion. The sound on these CDs is better than you might imagine from a television recording of this vintage. The soloists mainly acquit themselves well, and the choral singing from the LPO Choir, Eton College Boys' Choir and the London Symphony Chorus is excellent. If you like your Mahler with a touch of Jack Nicholson in the Shining, this might be your cup of tea.
Submitted on 07/04/11 by Dean Frey 
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Works Details

>Mahler, Gustav : Symphony no 8 in E flat major
  • Performers: Susan Bullock (Soprano); Jane Eaglen (Soprano); Kenneth Riegel (Tenor); Eike Schulte (Baritone); Hans Sotin (Bass); Julia Varády
  • Conductor: Klaus Tennstedt
  • Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Running Time: 1 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1906-1907
  • Studio/Live: Live