London Philharmonic Orchestra / Klaus Tennstedt

Mahler: Symphony No. 8

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Recorded in 1991 by BBC Television, Klaus Tennstedt's stirring performance with the London Symphony Orchestra of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, the so-called "Symphony of a Thousand," is a treasure that has been missing from the catalog far too long. This live recording documents one of the most exciting performances of this work, and the combination of artists for this occasion is felicitous. The octet of vocalists -- sopranos Júlia Várady, Jane Eaglen, and Susan Bullock; altos Trudeliese Schmidt and Jadwiga Rappé; tenor Kenneth Riegel; baritone Eike Wilm Schulte; bass Hans Sotin -- the London Symphony Orchestra and Choir, the London Symphony Chorus, and the Eton College Boys' Choir collaborate with Tennstedt to make the symphony much more than a heroic read-through. Indeed, they transfigure the score into something nearly supernatural. Here and there are some slight inaccuracies of attack or intonation, but they really don't matter in the face of the uplifting power of the performance and the obvious enthusiasm of everyone involved. One can easily imagine that the audience for this concert was ecstatic, because the excitement of the musicians is almost palpable, and the experience of hearing this great performance live must have been overwhelming, since that's almost what it's like on CD. Fortunately, the BBC recorded it with remarkably clear and detailed audio, and the ambient sound is virtually as clean as if it had been a studio recording. There are recordings of Mahler's Eighth that may be superior on the technical grounds of execution or reproduction, but this is certainly unbeatable for its capacity to move and inspire. Highly recommended, and required listening for Tennstedt fans.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Symphony No. 8
1 6:36
2 3:26
3 4:40
4 1:44
5 4:55
6 0:58
7 1:57
8 2:21
9 1:12
10 4:28
11 3:54
12 1:12
13 1:42
14 2:50
15 0:59
16 3:55
17 7:55
18 6:13
blue highlight denotes track pick