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Discussion: Mahler: Symphony No. 8 - San Francisco/Michael Tilson Thomas

Posts: 11
Page: 1 2 next

Post by Cherubino September 4, 2009 (1 of 11)
I haven't hear this release, but it has received mixed reviews. At what point does interpretation cross the line into intervention, and is it simply a matter of personal preference, whether or not it does?

Post by hiredfox September 7, 2009 (2 of 11)
Received my copy over the weekend and played it last evening. First impressions (HQ stereo) are of technical excellence on the part of the orchestra and an absolutely superb, lifelike recording in brilliant technicolor 3-DSD albeit set well back in the sound stage. They are over there and seem slightly remote but the acoustic is excellent and for all the world it sounded to me like being in the Dress Circle at the Royal Albert Hall. If you like front stalls and in-your-face performance then you may have to look elsewhere but it suits me. Pacing is everything in this seldom-payed-live work but I'll need to spin it a few times more to comment on that.

Davis leads the SACD field so far; his version will be the benchmark for my assessment.

Post by tailspn September 7, 2009 (3 of 11)
hiredfox said:

If you like front stalls and in-your-face performance then you may have to look elsewhere but it suits me.

Hi John,

Thanks for your initial review. If you have other SFS Mahler, particularly the No. 9, could you please say how this No. 8 compares in terms of sonic image distance? I'm one of those who craves a close perspective. When I hang around the BSO Hall for a rehearsal, I sit right at the stage edge. I always believed the conductor has the best seat in the house. I've talked with enough of them that say the same.

The MC mix of the LSO Mahler 8 is awash in reverb. I feel like I'm out in the street listening to it. Pity, they didn't bring up the rear channels until they tried for a ping-pong surround effect at the very end. Very strange. I'd have preferred if that left that ending MC balance through the entire piece.

Thanks,
Tom

PS: Seeing Erdo here on another thread makes me wish he had recorded the LSO Mahler 8. That would have made it a reference recording if there was ever one!

Post by gonzostick September 22, 2009 (4 of 11)
Don't be surprised at how bad the Ruffatti Pipe Organ in Davies Hall sounds in this Mahler 8. It may be the largest pipe organ in a concert hall, but it is really a piece of junk, a result of San Francisco politics, more than a really good instrument. The 32 foot flue stop is electronic and the whole ensemble, for the huge number of pipes, has never added up to much of anything. This is typical of this organ manufacturer...

Post by Geohominid September 22, 2009 (5 of 11)
tailspn said:

Hi John,

Thanks for your initial review. If you have other SFS Mahler, particularly the No. 9, could you please say how this No. 8 compares in terms of sonic image distance? I'm one of those who craves a close perspective. When I hang around the BSO Hall for a rehearsal, I sit right at the stage edge. I always believed the conductor has the best seat in the house. I've talked with enough of them that say the same.

The MC mix of the LSO Mahler 8 is awash in reverb. I feel like I'm out in the street listening to it. Pity, they didn't bring up the rear channels until they tried for a ping-pong surround effect at the very end. Very strange. I'd have preferred if that left that ending MC balance through the entire piece.

Thanks,
Tom

PS: Seeing Erdo here on another thread makes me wish he had recorded the LSO Mahler 8. That would have made it a reference recording if there was ever one!

Tom,
Knowing you preference for utter immediacy, I was thinking about your possible reaction while listening to it! As I said, the choir are very 'present' without loosing their spatial aura - I suspect because the mikes are mostly hung above the orchestra pit and the choir balcony brings the voices nearer to the mikes. Otherwise the orchestral sound is much as before, certainly not distant but like a mid-stalls seat in this big hall. The brass certainly have a huge punch, and my neighbours probably heard the finale down the street, so this recording is absolutely not a shrinking violet! You just have to find the sweet spot on the volume control for your room and equipment. I had to recover for several minutes while absorbing the emotional and acoustic effects - that's what this Symphony is about.
As for MTTs performance, the question is compared to what? I followed with the full score, and Mahler gives no metronome markings as a guide to interpreters, relying on their instincts to follow the myriad of pace-changes indicated in German - this is similar to the frequent speed-changes in the 1st movement of the 4th, which often trip up unwary stick-wavers. Some conductors may go for histrionics and big effects, I think MTT kept the structural plan in his head and the music seemed to flow inevitably to its searing conclusion. At no time did it seem to me that he was wilfully distorting the composers instructions, and in the end the whole performance seemed shorter and more taut than most others I have heard, regardless of physical timings.

John

Post by JohnProffitt January 20, 2010 (6 of 11)
A bit off topic: does anyone have a copy of the Chailly Concertgebouw DVD-Audio disc of the Mahler 8 that they would be willing to part with? Thanks, John .

Post by Euell Neverno March 5, 2012 (7 of 11)
I'm not sure why the sound is so awful at times. I've heard this symphony performed at Davies Hall and the recording sounds very little like the live performance. Won a Grammy, but so have other mediocre recordings. Stereo only, so maybe sounds better in surround. As for the performance, prefer Tennstedt.

Post by gonzostick March 5, 2012 (8 of 11)
I have the DVD-Audio of the Chailly peformance, but will not part with it.

I would suggest you try the Zinman/Tonhalle recording of the Mahler 8th. The solo singers are better than some of the ones on the SFS recording and the pipe organ is one of the best concert hall organs in Europe. The Zinman performance is about as exciting as the Solti recording on RBCD.

Post by TxMark1962 March 6, 2012 (9 of 11)
I too have this SACD and while I enjoy the orchestral playing, my biggest "complaint" is the choral presence throughout. I will state this as a very personal thing and that I feel that the chorus is too small for such a large orchestra. I too am not entirely convinced on some of the vocal solos (though remember this SACD was delayed due to some apparently appalling singing during the first recorded attempt)

Whether for better or worse, I am a veteran of the April 1991 Telarc/Atlanta/Shaw Mahler 8 (I was in one of the two choirs from OSU) and ever since that performance (and listening to numerous recordings since) I still long for the sound of a massive choir as only a massive choir can even start to compete with an orchestra going full tilt....the Solti/Decca Mahler 8 does not use a massive choir, yet still offers a chorus that was able to hang in there with the mighty CSO due to some excellent wizardry in the Sofiensaal by the Decca recording team...Maybe I need to find a copy of the Zinman/Tonhalle recording of the Mahler 8th to check it out...since I am a fool for Mahler, I do not mind numerous recordings of each symphony

Cheers,

Post by armenian March 6, 2012 (10 of 11)
The overall size of the forces required to perform this work are simply way too large for any symphony hall, one must see how they cram all these bodies in a stage that is simply too small and the resulting sound, live or recorded, always leaves something to be desired.

Keep all your favorite recordings, but if you have a large MC system try Gergiev on LSO live, this recording more than compensates for all LSO Live super dry Barbicon sound, recorded in a vast cathedral space, it is an experience to hear this on a large MC system, after listening to this in full volume all my other recordings sound as if they were recorded in an anechoic chamber.

Vahe

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