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Mahler: Symphony No. 8; Adagio from Symphony No. 10 Hybrid SACD


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Product details

  • Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony
  • Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas
  • Composer: Gustav Mahler
  • Audio CD (7 Sep 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Hybrid SACD
  • Label: San Francisco Symphony / Avie
  • ASIN: B002HGCWCE
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 251,307 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Symphony No. 10: I. AdagioMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony27:56Album Only
Listen  2. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part I - I. Veni, Creator SpiritusMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Erin Wall, Elza van den Heever, Katarina Karnéus, Yvonne Naef, Anthony Dean Griffey, Quinn Kelsey, James Morris, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Pacific B 7:28£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part I - II. Accende lumen sensibusMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Erin Wall, Elza van den Heever, Katarina Karnéus, Yvonne Naef, Anthony Dean Griffey, Quinn Kelsey, James Morris, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Pacific B 4:29£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part I - III. Infunde amorem cordibusMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Erin Wall, Elza van den Heever, Katarina Karnéus, Yvonne Naef, Anthony Dean Griffey, Quinn Kelsey, James Morris, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Pacific B 8:55£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part I - IV. Gloria Patri DominoMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Erin Wall, Elza van den Heever, Katarina Karnéus, Yvonne Naef, Anthony Dean Griffey, Quinn Kelsey, James Morris, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Pacific B 2:40£0.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II - I. Poco AdagioMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony11:12Album Only
Listen  2. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II - II. Waldung, sie schwankt heranMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Chorus 4:57£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II - III. Ewiger WonnebrandMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Quinn Kelsey 1:15£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II - IV. Wie Felsenabgrund mir zu FüßenMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, James Morris 4:36£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II - V. Gerettet ist das edle GliedMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Katarina Karnéus, San Francisco Girls Chorus, Pacific Boychoir 5:40£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II - VI. Hier ist die Aussicht freiMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Anthony Dean Griffey, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Pacific Boychoir, San Francisco Girls Chorus 4:19£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II - VII. Dir, der UnberührbarenMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Pacific Boychoir, San Francisco Girls Chorus 5:02£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Symphony No. 8 In E-Flat Major: Part II - VIII. Du Schwebst Zu HöhenMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Elza van den Heever, Erin Wall, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, San Francisco Girls Chorus, Pacific Boychoir 1:19£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II - IX. Bei dem Bronn, zu dem schon weilandMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Erin Wall, Katarina Karnéus, Yvonne Naef, Pacific Boychoir, San Francisco Girls Chorus 7:59£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II - X. Komm! Hebe dich zu höhern Sphären!Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Laura Claycomb, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Pacific Boychoir, San Francisco Girls Chorus 1:16£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II - XI. Blicket aufMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Anthony Dean Griffey, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Pacific Boychoir, San Francisco Girls Chorus 6:32£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Part II - XII. Alles VergänglicheMichael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, Erin Wall, Elza van den Heever, Katarina Karnéus, Yvonne Naef, Anthony Dean Griffey, Quinn Kelsey, James Morris, San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Pacific B 6:15£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Product Description

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony reach the culmination of their best-selling series of Mahler Symphonies with the Eighth, "Symphony of a Thousand", coupled with the Adagio from Symphony No. 10.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony reach the 11th instalment of their award-winning Mahler cycle with a live recording of the mighty Eighth Symphony, "Symphony of a Thousand", coupled with the Adagio from Symphony No. 10. This release marks the culmination of their recordings of the complete Symphonies; future recordings rounding out the series will include Des Knaben Wunderhorn with baritone Thomas Hampson, Rückert Lieder with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, and Songs of a Wayfarer. One of the most notable recording projects of our time, the series has been a world-wide commercial and artistic success, selling over 100,000 CDs. Every release has entered the top 10 of the Billboard Classical Chart, and the series has garnered four Grammy® Awards, a Gramophone Award, and numerous other international citations. As with previous MTT/SFS Mahler releases, the recording utilises Sony's Super Audio 5.1 digital surround technology and can be listened to on both traditional CD as well as SACD players.

Review

­Superlative orchestral playing, which is consistently fine and well integrated...exceptional dynamic range and refinement of the ­recorded sound.
-- The Guardian, (Andrew Clements), September 25, 2009

Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By rjmcr on 22 Sep 2010
Format: Audio CD
Tilson Thomas' disappointing SACD Mahler cycle ends with an appropriately disappointing Eighth Symphony.

The opening bars offer much promise; a rich, resplendent organ chord followed by a crisp but powerful `Veni, creator spiritus' from the choir. It continues well enough for much of Part I, albeit with a nagging doubt that the choir is going to be too small for the really big coup de theatre moments. The solo line-up is nicely balanced, both within themselves and in relation to the wider sound picture and there is some hypnotically beautiful orchestral playing.

However, when we get to `Accende lumen sensibus' things start to unravel. First of all, Tilson Thomas makes the mother of all pauses between the `A...' and the `...ccende' for no good reason at all and this is indicative of some curiously hesitant moments to come in Part II. If it was conceived as a trick to increase the tension here then it backfires. The choir remains strong in unison although as soon as they split into eight parts they lack the numbers within their parts to maintain the volume, and the mixed children's chorus is too sweet-toned and pure to really punch through the layers of sound; a boys' chorus is always more effective here. There is also a total absence of organ sound which is strange considering the impact it makes in the opening bar. Either the instrument was reined in to avoid it swamping the choir or it is hidden somewhere in one of the SACD channels which would be a curious production decision considering relatively few people have adopted the technology. The closing `Gloria' lacks the euphoric thrill of the best recordings, despite a fast tempo, although the sound handles the choral and orchestral expansion well.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Gareth Williams on 4 Feb 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Recorded sound decent enough, choir a bit recessed, soloists adequate- especially the ladies. This is- let's be honest- Mahler at his very worst, portentous and overblown with choral writing which is raw, amateurish and crude.
Yes- I have at least six recordings so I have tried to get the message but it just does not work for me. I feel like I am the one who realizes that the emperor has no clothes. Still, if you are in doubt- shout as the maxim goes. This performance evidently does not shout loud enough to convince even those who like the music.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Eric Shanes on 25 Sep 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
At the first two performances of this mighty work, conducted by Mahler in Munich in 1910, there were 1021 performers, including choral forces of about 850. That is what Mahler wanted. This presents enormous performing and recording difficulties in modern times, not least of all due to a lack of large enough venues in which to perform and/or record the work. But rather than try and overcome those problems, almost all conductors today simply shrink the numbers to about 650 in total. That is a travesty of Mahler's sonic intent, which was to recreate the entire cosmos in sound. Sadly, Tilson Thomas's disc turns the cosmos into something miniscule, for it all sounds so tiny in scale. Whatever its musical virtues it is not Mahler's Eighth symphony that has been recorded here but a midget approximation of it. To be avoided.
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5 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Anthony T. Cross on 3 Jan 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Expansive interpretation, beautifully controlled, without being "over-the-top" as are many other recordings.

Thoroughly recommended. (By the way also a most sensitive Adagio from 10.)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 19 reviews
46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
The New Standard 28 Aug 2009
By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Mahler's 8th Symphony, incorporating the Faust story, is an unwieldy monster, notorious for it massive body of instrumentalists, three choruses, and eight soloists. This album is the third attempt over three years of Mahler's 8th Symphony by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. I was in the audience for the first two, which were first awful and the following year reasonably good. But the old principle of threes is fulfilled yet again, for this rendition of November 2008 at last is excellent and worthy to be presented to the vast public by CD album. My gold standard has been the Solti recording, analogue LP and digital mastering, and MTT & the SFS matches it in exuberance and excitement and excels by its modern surround sound engineering. This majestic recording truly sounds live and being in Davies Symphony Hall, perhaps sitting in the dress circle. The soloists are heard distinctly and their performances are very fine, with especially fine singing by tenor Anthony Dean Griffey and soprano Elza van den Heever. Even the children's choruses are crystal clear and no shrillness, the bane of old recordings, is present. Tilson Thomas completes the Mahler symphony cycle with the Adagio of unfinished Symphony 10, which was recorded two years earlier. I now have a new standard for Mahler's Eighth. Yes, it is that good.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great Adagio from the 10th, not so great 8th 12 Nov 2010
By MartinP - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a decent enough Eighth, I suppose, but in the face of existing competition IMO it hardly merits the exuberant praise heaped upon it in some quarters. It might have been otherwise had the performance as a whole kept up the power and drive of the opening, which is very good, with thunderous organ and a forceful chorus. The tempo, too, is well-chosen, a true allegro. Other laudable features in this first movement are the natural perspective in which the soloists are recorded, and the wonderfully present, excellent children's choir - split in two and placed antiphonally, in fact, a solution that works very well. Musically, too, many parts of the Veni Creator come through quite well. The darker moments from bar 135 onwards are suitably mysterious, even though some other quiet passages (at #13 for instance) are somewhat lacking in tension. The end is suitably exuberant, even if MTT speeds up a bit too much for my taste.

However. The chorus does not maintain the power of the opening, and once separate groups sing polyphonically there is a noticeable lack of incisiveness, quite simply due to too small numbers; indeed, in some passages you can just about hear individual singers, and at #46 the soloists are louder than an entire tenor group singing ff. Given the vagaries of concert planning we are used to miniaturized Mahler 8ths these days, with choruses usually not much larger than the 180 or so that MTT employs, but a good recording engineer can make it sound quite differently.

Towards the end of the first movement another big drawback of this recording slowly becomes apparent, namely MTT's penchant for making absurd, uncalled for ritenutos at all the obvious moments (key changes, for one), and for inserting momentous pauses at major transitions. It doesn't mar the first movement too much, but becomes an absolute pest in the second. Recurrent, wilful slowdowns uproot its opening adagio and rob it of a sense of direction. No doubt in an attempt to prove himself a great mystic, MTT comes up with one of the most ponderous, drawn out reading I've ever heard of these pages, and it is quite a relief when the singing starts. However, the marvellously moving turn at 'heiligen Liebeshort' is completely ruined by the insertion of a break before 'Liebeshort'. Especially towards the end of the movement the musical flow will be interrupted by similar pauses on nearly every double barline. I guess it is supposed to make it all sound very meaningful, but in practice has quite the reverse effect. Mahler knew what he was doing, he doesn't need this kind of amateurish help.

While the soloists work well as a team in part I, their solos in part II are of varying quality. Quinn Kelsey's Pater Ecstaticus is quite good, if maybe a tad too cultivated. James Morris's Pater Profundus is rather less pleasing; his German diction is somewhat peculiar and there is a kind of hollow quality to his sound that didn't work for me. The crucial tenor role however is well taken by Anthony Dean Griffey, who sounds unforced all the way through even if his vibrato above the stave is hardly a thing of beauty. He has some wonderfully expressive moments from #91, "Bill'ge was des Mannes Brust..."onwards, but looses it a bit at "Jungfrau... Mutter...". The trio of women is adequate rather than memorable, and much the same goes for Gretchen, for whom I personally prefer a lighter, less 'creamy' voice.

At #106 (Mater Gloriosa schwebt einher) MTT reaches the nadir of his slowdown tendency, it is ridiculously slow; add to that his signature ritenuto's and the result is truly awful. The final part of the symphony is served up in a stop-and-go fashion due to uncalled for pauses at rehearsal numbers 172, 176, 199, and 220. It is a shame, as the final chorus recaptures some of the grandeur of the very beginning and leads to a satisfying close of what is, as said, a decent but somewhat plodding and fairly uncompetitive Eighth. The orchestra itself can hardly be faulted, it plays beautifully throughout; and the recording is pleasing if somewhat lacking in detail (at least when listened to in regular stereo). Still, go to Sinopoli, Rattle or Tennstedt for something altogether more probing and exciting.

The Adagio of the Tenth is offered as a filler. It gets a very good performance indeed: if only the main work had been performed like this! I counted only two unwanted ritenutos in its 25 minute span, in which MTT and his players capture the varying moods of this strange piece to perfection. The violas do themselves proud in their long, lonely, meandering lines, and the contrasting, sarcastic secondary material is well characterized. The great a flat minor outburst is truly earth shattering, and I've never heard the famous subsequent atonal chord sound quite so piercingly dissonant, the excellent recording allowing you to hear all its layers. One regrettable little blot occurs at the very end: whereas MTT, both here and in the Eighth, tends to underplay written-in glissandi, he inserts a huge and ugly unwritten glissando on the final downward swoop of the violas. I suppose the fact that this Adagio is included here, and MTT eschews all Cooke's additions to the orchestration, means that he will not be recording a complete Cooke version of the symphony, which after hearing this movement I find regrettable.
26 of 36 people found the following review helpful
great playing/singing, but not so the conducting 28 Aug 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I would love to say that this new MTT/SFSO Mahler 8 sweeps every other one out to the dust bin, but it simply doesn't. Thus, I was also hoping that we could all finally forget the overly touted Solti one, once and for all. But Solti remains strong at precisely what Tilson Thomas is so clearly deficient at: acknowledgment that the pipe organ plays an important and integral part in this symphony (Mahler writes fortissimo, with the added words "volles werke" - the complete works), along with a willingness to allow what Mahler has composed - particularly in Part II - to speak for itself. Let me elaborate.

This recording comes from the fourth go-around of Mahler 8 since MTT's tenure in San Francisco. It was originally going to be recorded several seasons ago, but there was universal displeasure with the cast involved at that time. I first saw Tilson Thomas perform M8 at Davies Hall in 1998. That performance was outstanding, with MTT giving us a very straight forward, no-nonsense rendition that incorporated plenty of organ at the end of both parts. I own a burn-job of that performance, taken off of the radio, so my imagination is not fooling me here. Then I saw him do it again in 2001 or 2002, and it wasn't nearly so good. Already, MTT was beginning to intervene in spots where it simply wasn't necessary to do so. In addition, the ending to Part II was curiously flat in comparison to the earlier 1998 one - a performance in which pretty much everybody in the house went bonkers over.

Let me just say that I'm glad that I missed this latest go-around, for MTT's Part II is loaded with massive ritardandos (slow downs) and several gratuitous, totally unsolicited pauses. The worst of these occurs after the tenor's first big solo. After one of MTT's massive ritards, there's a pause that lasts a solid five seconds before going on to the next section: the soft passage for unison violins, harps, and harmonium (chamber ogan), later to be joined softly by the chorus. That particular passage is played sooooo slowly, and sooooo softly, that it's actually difficult to make out the melody (an important melody that gets used again during the three penitent women section). Each harp "pluck" becomes a symphony on to itself. Hey, are we listening here to Gustav Mahler, or Anton Webern?

That's the worst of it, but there's more. Don't like the tempo you're hearing? Just wait a few a few bars, and Tilson Thomas will cross one that's more to your liking. Just take the orchestral introduction to Part II. The first Wagnerian outburst is played relatively slowly, but with sufficient intensity from the strings and horns. The second Wagnerian outburst explodes through the gate like gangbusters, only to be followed by more massive ritardandos. It's all rather dramatic, I suppose, but it's also somewhat incoherent.

All of these big ritards and gratuitous pauses lead one to think that we're in for one heck of a big ending to this symphony, but it's simply not there. To my ears, it sounds as though the ending to Part II may have had a separate studio take. There's very little pipe organ, and the offstage trumpets sound too close to the onstage brass. Everything is a bit too tidy and clean sounding; too controlled. The final sustained chord isn't held nearly long enough, and MTT ends with a very sharp, very clean cutoff to the final note. Compare this to Kent Nagano, who gives us a rather appropriate sounding, long, "mushy" kind of final note. Or, even more extreme, listen to the four seconds of reverberation that was captured on the recent Gergiev M8 (St. Paul's Cathedral). So, why the sudden hurry to end everything?

The end of Part I? . . it has a similar problem as well. MTT is truly in a big hurry here, and it ends up sounding like a scrambled mess. The offstage trumpet parts are audible (not so the trombones, though), but it's all rather rushed sounding. Too bad, because nearly all of Part I is very good indeed (for dramatic effect, MTT puts a hold on the second "Veni" that's sung at the movement's recapitulation - the climax of the big double fugue).

All of my whining is unfortunate because there's absolutely nothing to complain about in terms of orchestral execution, or with the singing from the various choral forces employed. Even the cast of soloists is one of the most solid ones to have appeared in a long, long time. In general, the women are better than the men. Soprano Elza van den Heever does an outstanding job with Gretchen's key solo towards the end of Part II, leading the redeemed Faust into the blinding light of a new day. Soprano Laura Claycomb then does a nice job with the short but ethereal sounding offstage part that follows (Mater Glorioso). Tenor Anthony Dean Griffey does a decent job of wrestling with his two difficult solos, but neither does he erase memories of Rene Kollo (Solti), Ben Heppner (Colin Davis; Chailly), or - best of all - Richard Leech (Maazel). Baritone Quinn Kelsey possesses a tad too much vibrato for my liking, and bass-baritone James Morris sounds a bit tattered on the edges, if also appropriately "Wotan" like. Still, these men are good enough to get the job done. All of the women are very good during the penitent women passage towards the end of Part II, and there's plenty of mandolin where that particular novelty makes its appearance to support them.

As for the recorded sound, it's excellent during softer passages (except that the above mentioned passage is simply too soft), but the major climaxes to the symphony simply don't come off. The end of the "Gloria" that concludes Part I has almost enough organ, but MTT's rapid tempo turns it into mush from a purely sonic standpoint (Rattle did the same thing, so he's not alone). On the other hand, the end of Part II just doesn't expand enough as Mahler adds more and more terraced layers to the texture. I believe that's greatly because there simply isn't anywhere near enough organ in the works, but everything else sounds a bit too clean and controlled as well. Think I'm exaggerating? Play the very last track on the Gary Bertini Mahler 8 (EMI), and you'll hear a world of difference. And while the dynamics on the noisy Solti recording don't expand nearly enough either - simply because it's a 35 year old recording! - at least those concluding textures are saturated with plenty of organ sound. By the way, the Adagio to the 10th symphony is a nearly 28 minute schlag-fest that borders on becoming a snoozefest. It certainly seems to add little to the rest of the package.

In conclusion, I wish that I could be 100% enthusiastic about this release. I really want to be, for a number of reasons! But once again, MTT feels that he has to intervene where he's simply not invited to. I believe that he takes his cue from Leonard Bernstein. He said that regardless of ALL of the indications that Mahler puts into his scores, they're simply not enough. But I believe that throughout this admirable and highly ambitious, self-produced Mahler cycle, MTT has frequently undermined the results by going waaaay beyond Bernstein's comment. Just for comparison's sake, take out the 1966 Bernstein/LSO Mahler 8, and play it back-to-back with this one. I seriously think that there are spots where MTT's conducting would make Bernstein's hair stand on edge. I guess I won't be throwing out that burn-job from 1998 anytime soon.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The last of Tilson Thomas's Mahler cycle is a triumph 2 Jan 2010
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Since he enjoys a host of adoring fans in San Francisco -- a perfect match of conductor and community -- MTT has nothing to fear from criticism. Not that he gets much. His Mahler cycle has won more acclaim than I could muster, although the Fifth and Seventh were both high points, and the Das Lied bids fair to be one of the leading versions with two male soloists. Like Boulez, he has chosen to cap his cycle with the Eighth, arguably the most difficult of Mahler's symphonies to bring off, in no small part because so many components -- orchestra, chorus, organ, multiple soloists, children's chrus -- are cruelly exposed and must rise to the same high level. It rarely happens that way.

The Adagio of the unfinished Tenth Sym. serves as a filler, and to my surprise, MTT plays it with great conviction and involvement. You won't mistake the San Francisco strings and horns for the Vienna Phil, but here that matters little. The conductor galvanizes them to a unified purpose. My chief complaint against MTT's Mahler is that he is too dapper, but here there is urgency and grit in the playing. The recorded sound is marvelous in its clarity and naturalness, a hallmark of the whole cycle. (I listened in two-channel Stereo.) The only thing missing is that last ounce of tragic devastation as delivered by Bernstein and Tennstedt, for example. But the variety of mood that MTT extracts from the score is remarkable.

The thunderous organ chord that ignites the Veni Creator spiritus of the Eighth is recorded with real splendor, and the choral entrance hard on its heels is equally clear. We are in another world from every predecessor I've heard. The balance between soloists and orchestra is also natural, even though we know that it takes multi-miking to draw the solo voices tis close. MTT approaches this movement with more flexibility, variety, and nuance than one usually hears. Only Boulez comes close, the norm being Solti's crunching power and headlong drive. By encouraging his soloists not to scream, Tilson Thomas gives them room to expression and tonal blending -- very nicely done. I found myself engrossed from beginning to end in this movement.

Part II, the extended Faust setting, is notoriously difficult to pull off. It really requires an opera conductor's instincts, which is why Gergiev and Chailly are notably successful in this section. At the outset MTT is rather prosaic, and one's admiration mostly goes to the recorded sound, which moment after moment sets a new standard in the Eighth. There's a lack of atmosphere here that misses Mahler's other-worldly scene painting. The big horn entry and frenzied string interlude right the ship, happily. (Mahler here foretells the desperate yearning of the Tenth's Adagio.) The whispered choral entry is rather wooden; one gets the feeling that they are singing German on cautious syllable at a time. The good news is that the chorus sings in tune with nice unanimity, of not the greatest power. We aren't remotely in Mahler's visionary world of countless teeming voices. Indeed, I've never encountered so modest a sound in this work. Clearly the conductor wanted maximum clarity, and he gets it.

The vocal soloists form a strong band, with good voices and considerable dramatic conviction. James Morris's commanding bass is no longer steady, but he throws himself into his role passionately and carries the day. Griffey lacks heroic heft in his tenor, but he sings with rapt sensitivity and is quite moving. The women re fresh-sounding and secure. Even better than Chailly and Gergiev, MTT finds dramatic contrast and variety in every episode of Goethe's extended apotheosis. Frankly, I've never heard a more convincing account of this music, which however high-minded on Mahler's part, often comes off as rather a trudge, but not here. This is an Eighth for doubters, and it should also delight anyone who, like me, thought that there wasn't much new to say in this monumental, problematic score. Like Boulez, Tilson Thomas ends his Mahler journey with an inspired capstone.

As a final note, here are the vocal soloists: Erin Wall (sop); Elza van den Heever (sop); Laura Claycomb (sop); Katarina Karnéus (mez); Yvonne Naef (mez); Anthony Dean Griffey (ten); Quinn Kelsey (bar); James Morris (bbar
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
WHERE IS THE ORGAN???????? 14 Mar 2010
By Karim Elmahmoudi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am extremely disappointed that the organ is practically inaudible because this is the best conducted version of this work and really could have stood the test of time. I have heard Tilson Thomas conduct this work about 4 times with the SFO and let me tell you, the organ is there. But if this very important element isn't present in the current recording, the engineers must be at fault. I find this truly inexcusable that they would deliver something missing such an important element. Come on SFSO, re-release this the way it sounds if we were present. Without this glaring omission, I cannot recommend this current recording. Other CDs are better (though without the same fidelity. The Adagio from Symphony No. 10 is fantastic, but I really believe MTT should release the complete Cooke III. The simple reason why is that without the rest of the symphony, we lack the context and understanding that Mahler made very clear he intended to go. I really wish I could convince MTT to finish the symphonies with the full Mahler 10/cooke III. I understand all the arguments against it, but after having heard about 7 different versions (and three of them live), there is a clear consistency in the general feel of the music that certainly deserves to be heard and documented.
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