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  LSO Live -
  Mahler: Symphony No. 8 - Gergiev
  Mahler: Symphony No. 8

Viktoria Yastrebova
Ailish Tynan
Liudmila Dudinova
Lilli Paasikivi
Zlata Bulycheva
Alexey Markov
Sergey Sernishkur
Evgeny Nikitin
Choir of Eltham College
Choral Arts Society of Washington
London Symphony Chorus
London Symphony Orchestra
Valery Gergiev (conductor)
Track listing:
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 7 show all

Site review by Castor March 29, 2009
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Review by sperlsco September 6, 2009 (12 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
For my money, this recording is the best all-around M8 – especially in multi-channel surround. I would not call it my favorite recording, but would certainly make it my first recommendation to someone looking for an M8. Why? While it may not be the best in any single area, it is very good-to-excellent in every aspect – conducting, playing, solo singing, organ, sound, and the excellent finales of Parts I & II.

Conducting: Gergiev conducts very well, not rushing through key areas as he does in much of his other Mahler. He generally builds naturally to climaxes and other musical events, varying his tempi slightly and flexibly. There are a few areas where I am not thrilled with his tempi choices, but that is true of any performance. The recent Inbal/Tokyo is probably the best conducted M8 in my collection in terms of both horizontal and vertical conducting.

Playing: The London Symphony plays like one of the world’s great orchestras. There is strong playing from all areas of the orchestra. The strings are full bodied, the brass are strong and clear, the winds shine, and the percussion is excellent. Some of the details of Mahler’s specialty instruments don’t quite come to the forefront as well as in the recent Inbal performance.

Solo Singing: All of the soloists have excellent voices if you can get around some of their accents. If you require a pure German accent you may be bothered a bit. Since I listen to voices in Mahler symphonies as if they are instruments, I am more interested in the timbre, strength, range, and purity of the voice. The Dr. Marianus and Gretchen soloists are critical to me – and these are two of the better voices to sing the parts. To me, this cast of voices almost challenges the ones in the Solti and Kubelik/Audite recordings for the best cast of soloists.

Organ: The organ is HUGE! In multi-channel, the organ comes from all around you. In stereo (i.e. when I’ve listened in my car), the organ tends to drown out some details – details which come through quite well in multi-channel. It is quite special to listen to the reverberation of the large hall at the ends of Part I and II.

Musical events: As you’d expect with the huge organ, the beginning and ending(s) of the symphony are overwhelming. The culmination of the fugue in Part I is well done, even if Gergiev does not make it as special as Inbal does with his slight tempi variations. End of Part I is thrilling, as Gergiev builds and releases the tension at the coda with the off-stage brass coming from left rear speakers. In Part II, the children’s choir is captured particularly well. The Mater Gloriosa starts briefly in the front right speaker and moves to the rear left one – giving a nice floating effect. The pace of the ending of Part II is a little faster than my ideal, but it is thrilling nonetheless -- given all of the organ, the clarity of the brass, the huge cymbal crashes (with adequate support from the tam-tam -- especially on the last smash), and the offstage brass actually coming from another location in my room (rear left speaker)!

So…why would I pick this performance as a first recommendation over all of my other first tier favorites? I probably think that the recent Inbal/Tokyo M8 is the best conducted of all, has spectacular stereo sound, and also has the best ending to Parts I & II. I will probably even listen to it more often than the Gergiev. Unfortunately, the cast of soloists is far from being top notch. I can look at others in my first tier of favorite M8’s and make similar eliminations:

Sinopoli/PO - Droopy tempi’s in Part I
Chailly/RCOA – Underwhelming Beginning to Part I
Bertini/Cologne – Soloists are not top notch
Neumann/Czech PO and Solti/CSO – Underwhelming finale to Part II (particularly the Solti)
Bernstein/VPO/DVD – Mediocre Sound
Nagano/DSO Berlin – Unacceptably poor Gretchen soprano

I feel that the Gergiev excels in all areas, even if other performances may be better in one aspect or another. As such, I would recommend it as a first choice to someone looking for an M8 – particularly if they’re looking to have just one in their collection. Oh yeah, and one other thing...this recommendation relates to the multi-channel surround version. The stereo version indeed has less clarity and negatively impacts the climaxes!

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Review by Ian Xavier Roskell April 24, 2012 (9 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Mahler's eighth, even on Paper it looks mammoth; too large to organize or have any orientation, but yet few conductors have triumphioned at taming such a wild and wonderful beast such as Mahler's eight symphony. One of the conductors is now Gergiev. It is my own personal belief that nothing is better than seeing a classical piece live, and yet more and more I am being disproven by such great recordings and even greater sonics. This is one of those recordings, so well made that no longer am I hearing the music from speakers or headphone, or even my ears but much better as I sat down to put this record on I expected to be entertained mildly by what I expected would be another decent but not moving recording.
Times have changed, as that first low organ-pedal note hit from the bass speakers it redifined what I call music, the first piece of Mahler I was to hear was the eight symphony, after a friend had suggested it to me.
Having liked romanticism like Wagner and Berlioz a friend suggested this name..."Mahler, Gustav Mahler."
I remember how skeptical I was when hearing that name, how ashamed I am for having not known his name.
I ordered this disk almost immaedetly, this friend had compared to the Handel's messiah, verdi's requiem, beethovens 9th.
He made the very heavy statement of saying that this symphony made these very famous pieces look like a "group of choir boys" in almost every way he is right, I ordered the complete LSO/Gergiev-Mahler symphony cycle. With this of course being the most large and epic, compared to the dozens of other Mahler recordings that exist, SACD or CD this is all around the best. All that Mahler's score calls for is heard on a the scale it was meant to be...the organ making a massive affect everywhere it is heard, the choir singing strong, but never breaking over the top and wailing at the top of their lungs.
The orchestra gives a fine performance as the LSO always has.
And against all the large forces even the smaller touching moments Mahler has scored is never missed, the Contrast between the section of harmonium, harp, Celeste before the large finale is a great gergiev and the small number of performers playing make just as a dramatic affect as the hundred of players that follow them. All around the best Recording of the mahler 8 availble on SACD. But of course like every recording there are flaws, such as in the first movement, the veni creator spiritus, the choir gives a strong performance but in the vast acoustics of the church it was recorded in...there are overlapping echoes, in the first movement it disturbs the notes, each one echoing into the next. This goes on throughout the reading of the hymn, as Mahler has writ this there a periods of phrases, with rests inbetween followed by more phrases with each gap allowing for that reverburation to break through the playing. This is mostly a issue in the first movement with only brief noted and phrases in the second echoing into another note, but I do not hold this against the recording to much, as it adds a very nice affect at the end of movements, or during the buildups, and slowdowns inbetween differently themed portions of the movement, particularly after doctor mariunus "Blicket auf" the brass
And timpani slowly quiet down until the arrival of the piccolos and harp. In these cases the revirburation adds a very large feel to the music.
The tempo could be called fast for the closing scene "alles vergangliche" but yet I find if I listen to the piece in its context gergiev made a wonderful choice, but out of context it seems fast. (still might not fully accept the logic behind that choice in musical taste.)
All these thing I said before we're about the multi-Channel experience, which is surprisingly is different that the stereo mix.
First is that the organ and many of the louder instruments during the second movement are much more prominent than 5.1, it's not a strong difference but it is there for all the world to hear.
If I can suggest anything to anybody it would be that, have a great sound system listening to this, this is the kind of music we buy those expense sets for, with wonderous sections of tranquil serenity, to low organ driven notes that overwhelm you, Mahler's eighth is a exciting and epic listen, this SACD captures it. It is my belief that nothing is better than seeing it live but with such a phenomenal recording like this you don't have to be in the concert hall to be moved...after the last tam-tam crash came the brass and organ, ending this recording on a beatiful note I was awe-inspired never before have I been so moved by music, personally the 8th is one of my favorite pieces...why? Because it is so moving, few conductors over the years have captured in a recording the full emotion and the large, dramatic force of this work, but here is one of the few that did...wonderful. Enjoy this I certainly did.

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Works: 1  

Gustav Mahler - Symphony No. 8 in E flat major "Symphony of a Thousand"