Mahler: Symphony No. 8, Adagio from Symphony No. 10

Mahler: Symphony No. 8, Adagio from Symphony No. 10

by Michael Tilson Thomas

SACD(Super Audio CD - SACD Hybrid)

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Mahler: Symphony No. 8, Adagio from Symphony No. 10

In spite of its small flaws, this is undeniably a great performance of Mahler's "Eighth." It has the right balance of line and harmony, the right feel for mass and momentum, the right sense of being in and of the moment, and above all, the sheer audacity to pull off the whole mighty and monumental work. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas is not quite as precise as he should be at every point in the score. Some entrances are not exact, some sonorities are not properly balanced, and some tempo relationships are not as tight as they could be. But these are small flaws in comparison with the greatness of Tilson Thomas' conception and the magnificence of his execution. Similarly, the San Francisco Symphony is not quite as together as they could be in every bar of the piece. There are slips in ensemble, as well as the occasional flub that such virtuoso writing orchestral can cause in even the best bands. But again, the tremendous verve and enormous power the San Francisco musicians bring to the music more than make up for their few mistakes. High praise goes to James Morris for his stentorian bass, and to Erin Wall for her clarion soprano, but another soloist's diction is on-again, off-again. The San Francisco Symphony Chorus deserves cheers for its strength and agility, as do the children's choruses for their purity of tone, but both groups have occasional intonation problems. The weaknesses, though, are insignificant in the face of the sweep and grandeur of the total performance, which grabs listeners from the first bar and doesn't let go until they are left, starry-eyed and laughing, at the last ringing chord of the final Chorus Mysticus. This great "Eighth" is paired on the recording with a reading of the opening movement of Mahler's "Tenth" that makes its composer sound like a self-pitying, self-absorbed weakling. That such a puny and pusillanimous account comes before the first movement of the "Eighth" in the program is deeply regrettable. Played back on a standard stereo system, the performance sounds dim and distant unless turned up to the highest volume, and even then it's not significantly better. When it's played on a quadraphonic super-audio system, however, the performers seem to step into your living room, or, put another way, they're inviting you to step into their concert hall.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/25/2009
Label: Sfs Media
UPC: 0821936002124
catalogNumber: 60021
Rank: 76525

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