Mahler: Symphony No. 8 "Symphony of a Thousand"by Antoni Wit
Even though Gustav Mahler's vast "Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, Symphony of a Thousand," is the most difficult of his works to mount -- with an expanded orchestra, an organ, eight vocal soloists, boys choir, two large adult choirs, and an off-stage brass ensemble, it outstrips even the massive instrumentation used in the "Symphony No. 2, Resurrection" -- it has become one of the most frequently recorded of the cycle. Indeed, its increased popularity is due in part to the greater availability of recordings of the work. This Naxos recording by Antoni Wit and the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, augmented by various singers and choirs, is one in a long list of perfectly acceptable renditions, though like most, it is not ideal in every respect. Some slight coordination problems between the choirs and the orchestra make the Veni, Creator Spiritus seem a little loose in the tutti passages; and the the vocal solos and ensemble passages are given too much rubato, specifically at "Infirma nostri corporis" and "Da gaudiorum praemia," an effect that breaks the movement's momentum. Part II bears these affecting touches better, since the final scene from "Faust" amounts to a sacred opera in Wit's interpretation, and such flexible pacing is a time-honored post-Romantic mannerism. On the whole, this performance is enthusiastic and polished, and there are no dull stretches or major mistakes to complain about; for a good recording to study the piece, this double-disc will fill the bill nicely, especially at the affordable price. The sound quality is fine throughout, and many of the orchestral niceties missed on other releases come through quite clearly.
- Release Date:
- Symphony No. 8 in E flat major ("Symphony of a Thousand")
Performance CreditsAntoni Wit Primary Artist
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This is a real treat for Mahler fans, at a budget price. Not a version I would have considered, the personnel being rather obscure, but for a rave review by Robert Levine in Stereophile magazine. And he wasn't blowing smoke: this is a version that can take its place alongside the best; Solti's 1971 recording with the Chicago and an all-star cast has more power, but Wit and his soloists achieve a remarkable sense of intimacy, almost on the level of a Bach cantata. If you've thought of the 8th as being a bit overblown, as I did for a long time, this version will reveal the human drama of suffering and redemption contained in Goethe's text.
There are many recordings of Mahler's "Eight" But if you want to "fly away" with the sounds just listen to this one. The Orchestra playing is very accurate and the choral singing outstanding! The soloists are doing fine job, indeed. Antoni Wit defintely feels Mahler's music and proves he knows how to present it to the musicqal world. And one more thing... play it loud! Ave!