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Mahler: Symphony No.8 (London Symphony Orchestra/Gergiev) SACD [Hybrid SACD]

Ronan Tynan, Gergiev Audio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £8.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Valery Gergiev
  • Composer: Gustav Mahler
  • Audio CD (30 Mar 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD
  • Label: LSO Live
  • ASIN: B001UEYGRI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,699 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Symphony No. 8 in E Flat Major 'Symphony of the Thousand' - Various Performers

Product Description

Review

To say that LSO chief conductor Valery Gergiev's vision is cathartic is selling this recording short. Gergiev piles climax upon climax it's more an Alpine range to conquer than a single mountain peak to climb. The opening section, a setting of the Veni Creator Spiritus, is magnetic and compelling in its momentous unity. An eight-strong solo line-up, largely Russian, match in voluptuous intensity the sheer magnitude of the choruses. A sense of exhaustion exudes from the final double fugue Gloria. So when the brow-beaten Adagio opens the Faust-inspired Part II, the anticipation of something very special is achingly palpable. Gergiev doesn't disappoint. Brilliantly and subtly animated choral singing injects a sense of bleak mystery and awe. Again, the setting enriches the whole aural spectacle. It's the kind of performance you instantly wish you had witnessed, but this vivid and momentous recording takes you 99 per cent of the way there. --Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman, 30 March 2009

This symphony famously calls for large forces in a large space. Physically, St Paul's Cathedral obliges, but its acoustic can veil the choral sound in an otherwise exultant, brilliantly coloured account. Valery Gergiev and the LSO are a hot ticket and one can understand why, given the disciplined power of the playing. Add the Choral Arts Society of Washington, London Symphony Chorus, the Choir of Eltham College and fine soloists and this is a glorious enterprise. --Robert Cockcroft, Yorkshire Post, 24 April 2009

Product Description

LSO 0669; LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - Inghilterra;

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
I went to this concert last year at St Paul's, and was sat quite far back. Unfortunately the sound in the Cathedral was a bit of a mush in the fast loud passages. That said, some of the intricate bits and quieter passages took on a sort of 'ethereal' quality that I have not experienced in concert before, and the final passages of both Part I and Part II were spine-tinglingly staggering - feeling the St Paul's organ's 32' stops underpinning the orchestra was an experience I'll never forget.

How pleased I was, therefore, to listen to this recording and find that the 'mush' I experienced on the night has been replaced by considerable clarity. Congratulations to a splendid job by the engineers. They achieve clarity, but still manage to retain the effect of being in the Cathedral, with it's massive echo.

With regard to Gergiev's interpretation, it is marginally faster than the more stately & operatic Solti recording, but it is, on the whole, no worse for it. At a few points I felt myself wanting more of a rallentando into a new passage, where Gergiev drives straight through without much pause, but in some places, I feel it benefits the work. His reading of the opening of Part II is right 'on the money', and he is rewarded by some outstanding playing from the woodwind and brass Principals - these passages hold some of the most challenging tuning issues in the orchestral repertoire (very exposed, wide intervals), yet the players excel themselves.

The soloists - most perform very well on this (the sopranos top Cs are happily full and present), and I must make special mention of Sergey Semishkur who's performance of Doctor Marianus is excellent. I should note, however, that on occasion, the pronunciation of the German by the Russian soloists is a little laboured.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag 24 Dec 2009
By MartinP
Format:Audio CD
I approached this disc with some trepidation, but curiosity, and my obsession with owning every recording of the Eighth ever made, got the better of me. I heard Gergiev conduct Mahler VIII in Amsterdam a few years ago, a performance that through a combination of under-rehearsal, esoteric conducting and a last-minute tenor replacement skirted along the brink of disaster. His Mahler efforts in London, as far as I've heard them (numbers 2, 6 and 7), I also found distinctly underwhelming. And while St. Paul's no doubt makes for a spectacular setting, it is pretty obvious that acoustically it will pose severe problems for recording technicians.

Fortunately I found my hesitations only partly justified, though I am still baffled by all the exorbitant praise heaped on this recording. Haven't people listened to great recordings of this work such as Rattle, Tennstedt or Sinopoli gave us, recordings that on top of their artistic merits offer the benefit of expert engineering? In comparison, Gergiev's reading suffers significantly, and while it has its redeeming features I would hardly call it a touchstone recording.

If the first movement leaves me deeply dissatisfied, I am well aware that this is entirely due to the failure of the recording technicians to meet both Mahler's excessive demands and the imponderables of this particular venue. The movement sets off with a fuzzy, underpowered organ, after which fuzzy choruses without any sense of attack start up the Veni creator. While the massed singers remain in an indistinct background, shrill close-up violins jump out at the listener. The overwhelming reverberation turns the music to mush, and given maestro Gergiev's peculiar conducting technique it is no wonder that several passages, the Infirma for one, are not together.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once in a While Experience 5 Aug 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I was not fortunate enough to witness this performance in St. Pauls. But I too have experienced this monumental symphony Live. It is notoriously difficult, through a recording, to encompass the massive sonorities of the climaxes with the delicacy of the quiet moments. No recording to date has succeeded.

In this performance I only rarely felt transported and exhilarated by the occasion. The performance is unexceptionable. Sensitive, dramatic and thoughtful. But not quite as monumental as the sound stage. I was always a little disappointed at the Solti performance, feeling it a little hard - driven. This is also firmly driven, but possessed of some beautiful twenty-first century accuracy from the performers and singers.

Any performance of this labour of love is an event. I am so glad I heard Gergeiev's traversal of this symphony because he has a tremendous grasp of long term shape and line. and I would urge all Mahler-lovers to buy this at such a giveaway price.
But.
Something is missing. Perhaps it was the mystery that Horenstein brought to this in his 1959 Albert Hall performance (on the BBC archive series).

I can't say which I will play next. But if you turn this one up loud it will bring St. Pauls' acoustic into your living room. And that is a blessing. As the first reviewer of this disc mentioned, it should bring you a special frisson of existing in a space with a thousand performers.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wonderful Mahler 4 May 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I heard this Symphany on Classic FM and was blown away, it's brilliant. It is best heard with the volume turned up high.
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gergiev makes a glorious noise 15 April 2009
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
If you've been following Valery Gergiev's ongoing Mahler cycle from London, you've heard a lot of surprises. Russia hasn't exactly been a hotbed of Mahler performances; throughout I've had the feeling that Gergiev, as an outsider, wanted to offer his own original viewpoint. His recording of the Mahler Eighth comes from two live concerts -- the hottest ticket in London -- at St. Paul's Cathedral in the summer of 2008. The venue itself brings up the issue of sound.

The echo in the church's vast space begins in Wapping and dies away in Pimlico. The recording engineers couldn't do much in massed choral parts about the long die away. There's a blur of echo and reverberation. To compensate, Gergiev condcuts the opening 'Veni, Creator Spiritus' quite broadly; othrwise, the sound would be a complete muddle. As for the vocal soloists and the London Sym., the stage bristled with dozens of microphones, spotlighting every voice and instrument with surgical precision. The resulting melange is quite artificial. I for one am happy to hear such a wealth of inner d3etail, but there's a feeling of pieces being cobbled together to make a whole.

The broad pacing of Part I is unlikely to win many admirers. Gergiev is expressive to the nth degree, and the LSO responds with world-class playing, but Part I needs to billow and erupt ecstatically. Here we get fits and strts of momentum. Almost every vocal soloist is from the Kirov, to my knowledge. Gergiev's importation of Slavic voices hasn't always been successful -- they marred his excellent Mahler Second -- but these singers are courageous and forthright, which counts for a lot. The various choral forces, several hundred strong, are exprt, and remarkably so under live conditions. Their sound is about as large as anyone could dare without losing the chorus in a tidal wave of echo. The engineers went for visceral impact, and they certainly achieved it -- Boulez's recent Mahler Eighth on DG boasts excellent sound but not with this vividness.

Gergiev's reputation for living every note is well deserved, and he gets his main chance in Part II, where the chorus often whispers and the orchestra and soloists carry the burden. He starts slowly, with constant expressive shaping. Even Bernstein doesn't carress the music so fondly. The solo parts begin very well with an excellent bass (whose name I can't pick out of the lineup -- sorry); he is astonishingly powerful and expressive, a Slavic Bryn Terfel. It's hard to maintain electricity in the wide wandering of Mahler's 'Faust' setting, but Gergiev does as well as anyone I've ever heard. To my delight, the tenor doesn't sound Russian; he has a steady, ringing tone and a good deal of bravery. The women sing wth a more Slavic cast but are also quite effective -- they really seem to feel their roles.

In the end, Part II is the real glory of this performance. Gergiev's exprience as an opera conductor pays off; there's dramatic tension, changes of mood, and more vocal color than one ever hears. The weaving of sweetness and mystery is quite moving. I wish I could award five stars, but Part I never quite achieves liftoff. In every other respect this is a fascinating reading. (Gergiev ended his Mahler cycle with these performances, but LSO Live has yet to release Sym. #5 and #9.)

Here's the lineup of performers:

Viktoria Yastrebova, Ailish Tynan, Ludmila Dudinova, Lilli Paasikivi, Zlata Bulycheva, Alexey Markov, Sergey Semishkur & Evgeny Nikitin

Choir of Eltham College, Choral Arts Society of Washington, London Symphony Chorus & London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars to Mahlerites what "Parsifal" is to Wagnerites? 9 May 2009
By B. Guerrero - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
In spite of the technical challenges of recording Mahler 8 in an acoustic as strange and "boomy" as St. Paul's Cathedral, I'm going to award this Gergiev/LSO effort five stars. Do beware, these challenges are strange indeed. The organ sounds as though it's somewhere away from the orchestra (there's plenty of it though!). And the various choruses too, at various times, sound as though they're somewhere else in the room. Yet, all of this mushes together into something that one could think of as being a quasi-religious experience for Mahlerites. There's a several second "hang time" of sound at end of both parts. I haven't timed it, but I think that there must be something close to 4 or 5 seconds of decaying sound, just swishing around in that great big dome overhead.

Gergiev's mostly Slavic cast is, on the whole, surprisingly good. Sure, there have been better tenor solos in Part II (Leach/Maazel; Heppner/Davis; Kolo/Solti), as well as more beguiling invitations to the heavens from various other offstage sopranos (just before the "blicket auf" passage). But taken as a whole, this cast is no worse than any other. It does bother me that the bass baritone has a brighter timbre than the regular baritone, but that's surely a small complaint. The children's chorus, on the other hand, is far better than usual! They sound big, and they really get into their soli parts throughout Part II. As you might expect, Gergiev conducts the work efficiently. There's no dawdling along the way; nor too much time taken to permit his soloists to wallow in a bath of vocal excess (thank goodness!). My only interpretive complaint is the usual one that I have with most Mahler 8ths: Gergiev is in a bit of hurry with the final, closing bars of the symphony - the business where the offstage trumpets make their ascending leaps of a 12th, accompanied by simultaneous cymbal/tam-tam strokes from the back of the orchestra. For me, Gary Bertini reigns supreme in those final measures. But let's get to the point.

Mahler 8 has been surprisingly lucky on CD, especially in the last two decades. If you're not a great lover of this symphony, I might advise you to hold off until we hear the results of Tilson-Thomas' efforts with the San Francisco Symphony, due out sometime this fall. But if you're a Mahler 8 junkie like I am, you may as well pile this one on as too. On the whole, I've really been enjoying it upon repeated hearings.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nit-pickers, go away 5 Jun 2009
By jswell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This Mahler 8th is by far the best in conveying the Heavenly Hosts. The acoustics of St. Paul's and the reverberation-- have you ever been inside? bring this symphony ALIVE, and comes as close as any (and I mean ANY) recording to break down the walls of a contained concert hall and carry us into the heavenly world-- truly a 4th dimension of sound! And, yes, I have credentials-- I heard (attended) the Mahler 8th with Solti and the CSO right before they left for Vienna to record the piece. Yes, that London/Decca recording held the torch for decades, but the LSO live performance grabs you by the throat! As to listening to a download, who would ever listen to this piece with earplugs??? BUY THIS NOW!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid -- If you like your Mahler King Size... 9 May 2009
By Basso Profundo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
and who doesn't. Find a recording of the Choral Arts Society of Washington with a world class symphony orchestra (and the LSO more than qualifies) you should capture it for your classical collection.

Nobody prepares a chorus any better than Norman Scribner/Joe Holt. The precision of the entrances and the balance of the sections sets this chorus above all others. This comes through loud and clear in the recording

The rich texture and majestic delivery of this Mahler monster as performed in St Pauls will leave you exhilarated and feeling like you were there. Maestro Gergiev took full command of this piece and it is now my standard against which all future Mahler 8's will be judged.

Fabulous.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awful Part I, interesting Part II, in all a mixed bag 24 Dec 2009
By MartinP - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I approached this disc with some trepidation, but curiosity, and my obsession with owning every recording of the Eighth ever made, got the better of me. I heard Gergiev conduct Mahler VIII in Amsterdam a few years ago, a performance that through a combination of under-rehearsal, esoteric conducting and a last-minute tenor replacement skirted along the brink of disaster. His Mahler efforts in London, as far as I've heard them (numbers 2, 6 and 7), I also found distinctly underwhelming. And while St. Paul's no doubt makes for a spectacular setting, it is pretty obvious that acoustically it will pose severe problems for recording technicians.

Fortunately I found my hesitations only partly justified, though I am still baffled by all the exorbitant praise heaped on this recording. Haven't people listened to great recordings of this work such as Rattle, Tennstedt or Sinopoli gave us, recordings that on top of their artistic merits offer the benefit of expert engineering? In comparison, Gergiev's reading suffers significantly, and while it has its redeeming features I would hardly call it a touchstone recording.

If the first movement leaves me deeply dissatisfied, I am well aware that this is entirely due to the failure of the recording technicians to meet both Mahler's excessive demands and the imponderables of this particular venue. The movement sets off with a fuzzy, underpowered organ (excentrically placed to the right, not an ideal situation as the Abbado recording already made clear), after which fuzzy choruses without any sense of attack start up the Veni creator. While the massed singers remain in an indistinct background, shrill close-up violins jump out at the listener. The overwhelming reverberation turns the music to mush, and given maestro Gergiev's peculiar conducting technique it is no wonder that several passages, the Infirma for one, are not together. Despite all this misery we can just make out that the cast of solo singers is in fact quite good. But the weird perspectives, the lack of dynamic expansion, the lack of detail, the thin, at times almost amateurish strings, and the general bleariness of the sound (only occasionally ruptured by unpleasantly strident trumpets) make this one of the most uninvolving Veni creators I've ever come across. Even the splendid Gloria coda goes nowhere; the fabulous horn sequence that introduces it is barely audible, the players sound so distant as if they are out on the street; and when the polyphonic ecstasy reaches its culmination the acoustics of the venue ensure that no sense can be made of it at all.

Part II, however, fares much better. In fact, the cavernous cathedral acoustics that threw a spanner in the works in Part I now become something of a boon. First there is a very atmospheric introduction where finally we get to hear that it is actually a great orchestra that is playing. Then, when the hermits echo-chorus comes in, St. Paul's creates a nice halo of reverberation that is highly suggestive of the mountainous regions Goethe envisioned here. The effect is quite spell-binding.

The solo singers are placed in a natural perspective, and the baritone (Pater Ecstaticus) has a most pleasing voice, even though his rendering is a tad too relaxed for my taste. Incidentally, this is one of the passages where Gergiev's laudable left- right division of first and second fiddles results in some scintillating dialogue. Pater Profundus sounds rather matter-of-fact and one or two times his intonation seems a bit doubtful. However, the subsequent angelic choruses will erase any frown; the children's chorus is delightfully feisty and sings with a lovely, slightly uncultivated edge to their sound. The crucial tenor soloist is certainly up to his task, though he sounds a tad strained on top. It is a pity though that there are some weird aberrations in his German diction (Gehimniss instead of Geheimniss, and something like Mudier instead of Mutter). Gretchen too is feelingly sung, though the effect of her solo is somewhat marred when at the end of it horns and trumpets get out of sync. Mater Gloriosa floats somewhere in ethereal distances - again St. Paul's is put to good use here. And while the tenor doesn't sound particularly ecstatic at `Blicket auf', the ensuing mysterious, dissonant climax before the final chorus is most effective. The hushed chorus itself, too, is beautifully realized, and blooms into a mighty climax, with powerfully present organ - it makes one wonder why this sound has eluded the technicians in part one.

In all this Eighth is a very mixed bag that may well be of interest to those enamoured of this work, but would not make a very obvious `library' choice for those seeking just one version.
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