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AX 0192
MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 8, "Symphony of a Thousand" (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Kubelik) (1970)

MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 8, "Symphony of a Thousand" (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Kubelik) (1970)

The Classical Shop
release date: November 2013

Originally recorded in 2010


Pietro Alessandro Guglielmi Chamber Orchestra


Rafael Kubelik


Erna Spoorenberg


Martina Arroyo


BBC Chorus


Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 73:36
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MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 8, "Symphony of a Thousand" (Bavarian Radio Symphony, Kubelik) (1970)

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Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major, "Symphony of a Thousand"

1 Part I, Veni, creator spiritus: Veni, creator spiritus 21:30
2 Part II, Final Scene from Faust: Poco adagio 27:16
3 Part II, Final Scene from Faust: Ausserst langsam - Adagissimo 24:50
 Martina Arroyo Soloist
 Erna Spoorenberg Soloist
 Rafael Kubelik Conductor

Symphony No. 8 is Mahler’s most monumental symphony, for it is itself a combination of two enormous choral cantatas; in it, Mahler brings together “Veni, creator spiritus”, the old Pentecostal hymn of Hrabanus Maurus, with Goethe’s Faust II. The two texts could hardly be more dissimilar, which is why the music also makes very different demands on the listener in the two respective parts. The first part of the Symphony is complete in itself; the ecstatic enthusiasm of the hymn alternates with intimate passages, then leading back to the opening hymn-like character at the end. The second part, a setting of the Faust text, is not only two-and-a-half times as long as the first but also far more complex. Goethe’s esoteric poetry allows Mahler to ascend into ever higher spheres. However, his music almost always does justice to Goethe’s words and the scenic description; Mahler’s celestial visions are manifested in this tremendous work. The ensemble, consisting of an eight-part double choir, a boys’ choir, 8 soloists and a huge orchestra including organ earned the Symphony its nickname “Symphony of a Thousand” before its premiere. Even if Mahler insisted on crossing out this subtitle on the announcement poster, it does indeed express the work’s monumental quality very well.

This live recording of 24 June 1970 in the Kongreßsaal des Deutschen Museums in Munich with Rafael Kubelik and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.


"...Conceivably, many people own the Kubelik set of Mahler symphonies on DG. But being a live performance, and in remastered sound, this is still an excellent introduction to Mahler’s monumental Eighth Symphony. Kubelik is a reliable, no frills conductor, who will always give a balanced, thoughtful reading without extremes of temperament. You could do a lot worse than to learn Mahler from this undoubted master. 

This recording also benefits from an excellent set of soloists, whose voices are clearly differentiated: an important consideration in a symphony where the singers so often sing in a group, and where clarity helps bring out the interplay of individual voices. It is also live, as most recordings of this massive symphony are, given the logistics of putting together any performance. If you’ve got the “thousand” performers together, tape them for the moment may never come again! More seriously, a symphony like this is an event in itself, and an experience so unique that it generates its own atmosphere. The sheer dynamic of coordinating such vast numbers creates a sense of occasion which further inspires the performers to give their best. Even performances where there are elements not quite up to scratch retain this feeling of immediacy. If ever there was a symphony that needs to be listened to for total impact, this is it. It’s churlish, I think, to expect utter perfection at all times, especially given the size of the forces involved. After all, the text is about the redemption of Faust and his being accepted into Heaven despite having sinned. Love transcends death, and redeems the flawed soul. Miss that, and you miss a fundamental aspect of Mahler’s entire outlook on life, replicated in different forms in the Second, the Fourth, the Ninth and Das Lied von der Erde, if not more subtly elsewhere..."

Anne Ozorio - - September 2006


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