Mahler: Symphony No. 8

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Sony Theta
WORKS: Symphony No. 8
PERFORMER: Sharon Sweet, Pamela Coburn (sop), Brigitte Fassbaender (m-sop), Florence Quivar (alto), Richard Leech (ten), Sigmund Nimsgern (bass-bar), Simon Estes (bass); Vienna State Opera Chorus, ORF Choir, Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Vienna Boys Choir, Vienna PO/Lori
CATALOGUE NO: SM2K 60307 Reissue (1989)
The universe does eventually sound and ring in this Eighth, as Mahler said it should, and the Vienna Philharmonic pulls out all its most lustrous stops for Maazel (there are some stunningly forceful pizzicati in both movements). Yet his is a laboured route to the final shining vision of the Eternal Feminine – sensitive, certainly, to the sudden depressions of both movements but more often turgid in pacing. Like Abbado in his recent DG version, Maazel shows deliberation rather than the suggested impetuousness in the opening hymn to the Creator Spirit; and like Colin Davis, he trips up several of Goethe’s mystic participants in the second-movement closing scene from Faust. These soloists, nicely caught like the chorus in apparently natural perspectives, seem to enjoy the teamwork, but tend either to the anodyne or the over-emotional in assuming their operatic roles: no match for Solti’s first-rate Wagnerian team in an altogether more dramatic blaze of glory. David Nice