Mahler's eighth Symphony "Symphony of a Thousand" is not his most accessible(no. 1) of his symphonies, but it is a truly monumental work, in the top 3 of his best symphonies and one of the best pieces he wrote. To hear or see a truly great performance of this work, look no further than this 1975 performance which is just spellbinding. So good in fact that the underpowered organ and Kenneth Riegal's voice sounding strained in his admittedly stratospheric and treacherous part can be overlooked. Humphrey Burton's filming is sensitive and almost cinematic, it's not intrusive, it doesn't linger too long on person or object and it directs itself to each person who gets to shine in a way of acknowledgment. The orchestra play like angels, bringing the right amount of whimsy, joy, intensity and mystery to a work that calls for all those things, a special mention has to go to the brass section who are particularly magnificent in the final section, a very reaching for the skies sort of moment. The chorus are well-blended and sound great, very generous in size and warm in sound. It was very difficult not to be moved to tears by the final chorus, it always does so and is so beautifully done here. Leonard Bernstein not only leads the orchestra, chorus and soloists amazingly, and with great musicianship(Mater Gloriosa is sentimental but really striking in tone colour and dynamic range) but does so with a great deal of feeling and enthusiasm. The soloists shine too with only Riegel coming across as somewhat of a disappointment. Jose Van Dam sings Pater Profundus more than ardently and with a sound that's very focused and sonorous-sounding. Edda Moser sings with great intelligence and characterises with dramatic conviction, also hitting some terrific top Bs and Cs. The same goes with Judith Blegen, her voice is not quite as big as Moser's but she makes a beautiful sound. Agnes Baltsa's voice is rich and creamy with a lot of sincerity. Gerti Zeumer and Ingrid Mayr sound positively angelic, while Hermann Prey has the right authority and vocal warmth though his part is not as showy. To conclude, a brilliant and just heavenly performance. 10/10 Bethany Cox
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?