GUSTAV MAHLER - Symphony No. 8

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GUSTAV MAHLER - Symphony No. 8 - Markus Stenz (Conductor) - Gürzenich Orchester Köln - Hybrid SACD - 4260034866539 - Released: November 2012 - Oehms Classics OC653

I'm confident we can all accede to the fact that Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major can, at face value, easily be considered one of the most impressive and potent symphonic statements of all time. Written on an epic scale, with a level of confidence or should I say bravado equal to none, and displaying a masterful control of multi-layered and nimble counterpoint dished-out by massive forces. It stands on its own. And most conductors perform it straight and unadorned, simply by going through the motions. And yet, conductor Markus Stenz seems to have discovered more than meets the eye within this work. He pushes and pulls, stretches and contracts, microscopes and telescopes his perceptions of the score and in doing so reveals this music's true sonic weight. A reading as expressive as it is powerful. The Gürzenich Orchester Köln members are in fine form, the choirs solid, but it's the soloist singers that really make the difference here. The sopranos in particular soar high and strong over even the most congested and full bore moments of this work. All of it captured in an impactful recording. This Mahler cycle on Oehms Classics has been consistently strong, and this new release brings it up one more notch. Recommended!

Jean-Yves Duperron - January 2013