Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Mahler, Dudinova, Tynan|
Symphony No 8 (Hybr)
Mahler's monumental Eighth Symphony is, unusually for a symphony, structured in two-parts. Part I's exuberant hymn of praise to the creator spirit precedes a reading of the Final Scene from Goethe's Faust, portraying "Faus... more »
Mahler's monumental Eighth Symphony is, unusually for a symphony, structured in two-parts. Part I's exuberant hymn of praise to the creator spirit precedes a reading of the Final Scene from Goethe's Faust, portraying "Faust's redemption through wisdom and love". The use of choirs throughout the work, combined with the colossal forces of eight soloists, off-stage brass, and an expanded orchestra, make this a work of epic proportions.
Gergiev makes a glorious noise
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 04/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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
To Mahlerites what "Parsifal" is to Wagnerites?
B. Guerrero | 05/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Splendid -- If you like your Mahler King Size...
Basso Profundo | 05/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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.