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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars POEMS PRAYERS AND PAGEANTS, 29 Jun 2004
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony No.8/Adagio from Symphony No.10 (Audio CD)
We are not told exactly how many performers were here for this 'symphony of a thousand', but there were obviously quite a few and my first pleasure in reviewing this pair of discs is to compliment the recording staff on how well they have handled their part. Their work is consistent from beginning to end and it shows at its very best in the final Chorus Mysticus, building up from the faintest pianissimo to a really colossal sign-off without loss of tone at either extreme. The performance is a model of consistency too, and consistency at the highest level. Hans Soltin as the Pater Profundus does not have a voice to equal the glorious tone of Tom Allen as the Pater Ecstaticus, but what is more important is that their voices are well contrasted. Also mentioned in despatches should be Cheryl Studer as the Magna Peccatrix, Angela Maria Blasi as Una Poenitentium and Keith Lewis in beautiful voice as Doctor Marianus. The Southend Boys' Choir acquit themselves very well indeed, and the Philharmonia chorus and orchestra cover themselves with glory. Above all, step forward Sinopoli. What a truly great conductor he can be. He launches the great apocalyptic piece with overwhelming conviction and power, the drive and exultation of the Veni Creator carries all before it, and he negotiates the tones of rapture, awe and contemplation in the second part with faultless instinct and skill.
For me Mahler's 8th is not some balanced game of two halves, to avail myself of the sportswriters' cliché. The first part is less than half the length of the second, and I hear it as a prelude to it. Its poem is an uncomplicated invocation of and paean of praise to the holy spirit, exalted in sentiment but simple too, indeed basically saying the same thing several times over. The divine inspiration, for me, is being called down to help us better understand the sublime pageant of redemption through divine love that makes up most of the work. The work is almost unique among Mahler's compositions in having no dark shadows, only light of different intensities and tones. There is no struggle or doubt, all that being something of the past when the great prayer starts. When it finishes, the composer guides us through Goethe's great vision as the various types of sinful humanity extol the divine mercy that has brought them to paradise itself, and the voices are finally silent as pure voiceless instrumental music sets the seal on the whole sublime tableau.
The production is in general very good, but not as good as it might have been. Texts of the Latin and German are provided with English translations, and that meets the basic requirement. There is a lengthy and high-flown liner note on the symphony, and it may be that in time my first impression that it is mainly hot air will change. My Latin is better than my German, but I very much hope that the translators' German is better than their Latin, because the translation of the Veni Creator is slipshod and in two places downright wrong. Happily this is not a work where the fine detail of the text is all that important, but a listener wishing to understand what he or she is listening to ought to be aware that the two lines from 'infirma' to 'perpeti' actually mean 'Stiffening what in our bodies is weak to be steadfast through virtue'. Substitute commas for full stops after 'unctio' and 'perpeti', and in the English after 'spirit', and it will make sense. In addition there is some pointless fussing, indicated by the digit 1, over alleged changes or additions to the text. In fact all these point up are some perfectly ordinary word-repetitions. Anyone trying to annotate Handel's far more elaborate word-setting in this way would soon get into a fine old tangle. Where the text here actually differs from the liturgy, twice in changing the word-order and twice the words themselves, the editor never lets on. It should probably be noted also that track 15 starts with the entry of the Mater Gloriosa, later than the text states.
As a filler there is another fine performance of the adagio from the unfinished 10th symphony. On its own it is longer than any symphony by Haydn, and this time I compliment the production on their sensitivity in placing it on the first track.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of Sinopoli - and Mahler, 26 Jun 2009
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony No.8/Adagio from Symphony No.10 (Audio CD)
David Bryson has already contributed a fine and full review of this account of Mahler's so-called "Symphony of a Thousand", so I need only to endorse his sound judgement. I say "so-called", but Mahler did indeed have forces numbering well over that number in the premiere, which he conducted. I have read criticism of the paucity of Sinopoli's forces but I cannot say that I register any sense of their being under-powered here: the climaxes to both movements are overwhelming and spectacularly recorded. This is by all accounts the best of Sinopoli's Mahler cycle, worthy to sit alongside versions by Solti, Bernstein and Tennstedt. Orchestra, choir and soloists seem inspired by their conductor to make this a thrilling spiritual experience - and one which sucessfully unites the two parts by vitue of their common, shared sense of ecstasy. Keith Lewis has a light but penetrating tenor, Sotin and Tom Allen are assertive and authoritative, and all the ladies' voices are totally up to the job. I love this recording and would use it as a first port of call to illustrate the special quality Sinopoli can sometimes (not always) bring to familiar pieces; this interpretation breathes sincerity and inspiration.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mahler Symphony 8 and 10, 28 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony No.8/Adagio from Symphony No.10 (Audio CD)
This is an excellent coupling. The short but beautifully realised unfinished 10th Symphony and the massive scale of the 8th. The 8th required one of the largest ensembles ever conceived (858 singers and 171 instrumentalists) and represents the peak of Mahler's career. It was certainly the largest work of his career, although it only took 10 weeks to write. It is interesting in itself because of Mahler's use of choral throughout the symphony not just at the end (compare for example, Beethoven's famous 9th). Furthermore, there is the interesting change of language in the choral part, first in Latin and then in German. However this makes sense in the context of Mahler's overall vision. He was always striving to show the existence of a larger, all encompassing unity, even from seemingly contrasting elements. Sinopoli gives a passionate account of the work, with an excellent team of soloists and chorus. The only criticism is that the 8th is split over two CDs which is merely inconvenient.
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Mahler: Symphony No.8/Adagio from Symphony No.10
Mahler: Symphony No.8/Adagio from Symphony No.10 by Gustav Mahler (Audio CD - 1998)
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