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Mahler: Symphony No 8 / Wit, Warsaw National Po, Et Al


Release Date: 04/18/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8550533   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Barbara KubiakIzabella KlosinskaMarta BoberskaJadwiga Rappé,   ... 
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cracow Polish Radio/TV ChorusWarsaw National Philharmonic OrchestraWarsaw National Philharmonic Choir,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 23 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Just when you thought you didn't need yet another Mahler 8, along comes this version, and it just about sweeps the board. Let's face it, it's been a good couple of years for this symphony. Chailly's Decca recording was magnificently played and sung; Nagano's is unrivalled for its sensuality and atmosphere and is sensational in surround sound; and EMI recently reissued the Bertini--exciting, cogent, and perhaps the finest of all in terms of singing and orchestral execution. Antoni Wit, whose Mahler hasn't been all that impressive thus far, comes closest to Bertini in terms of the sheer intelligence of his conducting, and in his scrupulous adherence to both the spirit and the letter of the score. But
Read more he also has that sense of vastness that Bertini deliberately underplays, but with no loss of clarity. The engineering really is something special. It captures lots of detail in quiet passages and has plenty of amplitude at the climaxes, including an organ and offstage brass better integrated into the overall sound picture than in any other performance.


Wit is helped by really outstanding choral singing. The combined choirs have enough power to make the contrapuntal lines in the first movement's epic fugue clear, even in a large acoustic, and the children are simply terrific. As with Tennstedt's recording, the soloists emerge naturally from within the orchestral fabric, their lines intertwining with Mahler's characteristic writing for the winds and strings. This makes all of those "Wunderhorn"-style solos in the second movement spring colorfully to life.


Not only do the singers cooperate and blend splendidly with each other in the first movement, but there's not a significantly weak link among them. Soprano Izabela Klosinska's fresh, girlish soprano is ideal for Gretchen, even if her German pronunciation is a bit strange, and all of the other women are excellent. Tenor Timonthy Bentch does as fine a job with his first big number in praise of the Virgin as just about anyone: he's bright, confident, and heroic, and his "Blicket auf!" is stunning. You won't hear a more virile Pater Ecstaticus than Wojtek Drabowicz, nor a steadier, more solidly imposing Pater Profundis than Piotr Nowacki.


But most of the credit has to go to Wit. In a recording that could have turned into a muddle, he energizes his huge forces to give a 100 percent effort. The orchestra plays magnificently. You will hear countless details in the brass section that you haven't heard elsewhere, and the string articulation is worth the price of the disc (listen to the generous portamentos when the tenor sings "Mutter, Königin" in the "Blicket auf!" episode, here taken slowly and with as sensual a feel for sonority as Nagano).


But slow is very much the exception. Wit finds the ideal allegro for the opening movement and never loses sight of it. He drives the double fugue thrillingly to its climax, and most importantly never lets the tension sag in the quieter moments--check out "Infirma nostri corporis" in the first movement to hear how he sustains the pulse when most other versions lose it entirely. There are countless other examples of Wit's sensitivity in this regard: try his thrilling return to tempo primo when the choir reenters with "Accende lumen sensibus" in mid-fugue. Powerful stuff!


The prelude to the second movement has great atmosphere as well as really impressive phrasing from the strings. Later, Wit makes a big and wholly appropriate accelerando into the scherzando eruption of the women's chorus after the Pater Profundis solo, and from then on he keeps the music moving purposefully forward. The three solos for the ladies, and their trio, move along smartly, which makes the glowing appearance of the Mater Gloriosa, perfectly sung by soprano Marta Boberska, all the more evocative.


Instrumental details, such as the mandolin parts before the children's final chorus, and those flecks of harp and celesta that pepper the movement's second half, all register naturally and give the music the shimmer that Mahler intended. Notice how naturally Wit integrates the glittering piccolo solo transition to the Chorus Mysticus: so often it comes across as an independent episode, but here it's a single arch of melody coming to rest in the first notes of the chorus. It's what great Mahler conducting should be.


So, where does this leave us? There are now Mahler Eighths for just about every taste. Bertini is lean and lively, but with amazing codas to each movement. Nagano is lush, even decadent. There are also fine earlier versions from Bernstein (Sony), Tennstedt (EMI), Sinopoli (DG), and Solti (Decca), and an impressive if technically flawed live version from Kubelik (Audite). But if you want to hear a performance that combines the best of just about all of the competing versions and offers the most accurate sense of what the piece really does (or should) sound like live, then this is the way to go. The fact that it's available at budget price is a bonus: you would pay twice as much with pleasure to enjoy an interpretation on this level of excellence. What an extraordinary and delightful surprise! [4/11/2006]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 8 in E flat major "Symphony of A Thousand" by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Barbara Kubiak (Soprano), Izabella Klosinska (Soprano), Marta Boberska (Soprano),
Jadwiga Rappé (Alto), Ewa Marciniec (Alto), Timothy Bentch (Tenor),
Wojciech Drabowicz (Baritone), Piotr Nowacki (Bass)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cracow Polish Radio/TV Chorus,  Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir  ... 
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall 
Length: 80 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Notes: Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall (06/01/2005 - 06/06/2005)
This selection is sung in German and Latin. 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Veni, creator spiritus -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Veni, creator spiritus -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Imple superna gratia -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Infirma nostri corporis -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Infirma nostri corporis -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Tempo I: Allegro, etwas hastig -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Accende lumen sensibus -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Gloria sit Patri Domino
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Poco adagio -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Piu mosso: Allegro moderato -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Waldung, sie schwankt heran -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Ewiger Wonnebrand -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Wie Felsenabgrund mir zu Fussen -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Gerettet ist das edle Glied - Hande verschlinget euch -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Jene Rosen, aus den Handen -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Uns bleibt ein Erdenrest -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Ich spur' soeben nebelnd um Felsenhoh' - Hier ist die Aussicht frei - Freudig empfangen wir -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Hochste Herrscherin der Welt! -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Dir, der Unberuhrbaren - Du schwebst zu Hohen der ewigen Reiche -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Bei der Liebe, die den Fussen -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Bei dem Bronn, zu dem schon weiland -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Bei dem hochgeweihten Orte -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Neige, neige, du Ohnegleiche -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Er uberwachst uns schon - Vom edlen Geisterchor umgeben -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Komm! Hebe dich zu hohern Spharen! - Blicket auf zum Retterblick, alle reuig Zarten -
Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, "Symphony of a Thousand": Alles Vergangliche ist nur ein Gleichnis

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