- Symphony No. 8 in E flat major ("Symphony of a Thousand")
Jonathan Nott and the Bamberg Symphony started recording the complete symphonies of Gustav Mahler for Tudor in 2005, and the 2013 release of the "Symphony No. 8 in E flat major" is the crowning achievement of the project. Recorded in multichannel sound and presented in the hybrid SACD format, this "Symphony of a Thousand" has never been surpassed for spaciousness of sound and clarity of details. With an expanded orchestra, eight vocal soloists, and multiple choirs, there is always a danger in this piece that textures will become thick and tempos sluggish. However, Nott holds a tight rein on his forces and keeps the music transparent and propulsive throughout. The Veni, Creator Spiritus is especially exciting because of the brisk pacing and the alert choral singing, and there is a marvelous sense of depth between the vocalists and choirs, while the orchestra's vibrant sonorities are fully audible. The second part, the Final Scene from Faust, is utterly spell-binding, and Nott's impassioned interpretation is dramatic, magical, mystical, and ultimately, ecstatic, as Mahler intended. This is also where the super audio sound is most effective, because all of the delicate coloristic effects in the orchestration come across beautifully. This is a clear high point in a memorable cycle of Mahler's symphonies, and audiophiles who relish the fine details of Mahler's most complex score should acquire this recording. Highly recommended.