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LM 7415
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LM 7415

Sir Adrian Boult conducts Mahler: Symphony No. 8

The Classical Shop
release date: September 2009

Originally recorded in 2009


BBC Symphony Orchestra

Sir Adrian Boult

Lesley Woodgate

Arthur E. Davies

Robert Noble

Leslie Regan

Francis Steptoe

George Pizzey


Harold Williams


Gladys Ripley


Mary Jarred


Elena Danieli


Dora van Doorn


Emelie Hooke


William Herbert


Wallington Choral Society

Watford and District Philharmonic Society

Lambeth Schools' Music Association Boys' Choir

Boys of Marylebone Grammar School

BBC Choral Society

Luton Choral Society


Royal Albert Hall, London

Record Label
MP Live



Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 78:31
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Symphony No. 8

1 Audience 0:31
2 Part I: Veni creator spiritus 4:45
3 Infirma nostril corporis 5:37
4 Accende lumen sensibus 4:25
5 Veni, creator spiritus (reprise) 2:43
6 Gloria patri 2:51
7 Part II: Introductions 9:01
8 Chorus of anchorites 4:20
9 Rapturous, endless fire (Pater ecstaticus) 1:55
10 Mighty boulders far below me (Pater profundus) 4:26
11 xxxx (chorus) 6:15
12 The Queen of Heav'n (Doctor Marianus and chorus) 4:13
13 (The Mater Gloriosa soars into view) 3:04
14 By the love before him giving (Magna Peccatrix) 1:10
15 By the well pastures lying (Muller Samaritana) 1:49
16 xxxx (Maria Aegyptiaca) 3:36
17 xxxx (Una Poententium) 5:06
18 Come! Come! (Mater gloriosa and choir) 1:16
19 Look on high! (Doctor Marianus and choir) 5:33
20 Chorus Mysticus 5:55
 Elena Danieli soprano
 Dora van Doorn soprano
 Emelie Hooke soprano
 Mary Jarred contralto
 Gladys Ripley contralto
 William Herbert tenor
 George Pizzey baritone
 Harold Williams bass
 Lesley Woodgate
 Arthur E. Davies
 Robert Noble
 Leslie Regan
 Francis Steptoe
 Sir Adrian Boult
  Originally recorded in 1948  
  A Henry Wood Concert Society Text  

LM 7415W

Mahler: Symphony No. 8 (sung in an English translation) – Elena Danieli, Dora van Doorn, Emelie Hooke, Mary Jarred, Gladys Ripley, William Herbert, George Pizzey, Harold Williams, Assorted Choirs, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult (recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, London on 10 February 1948)

Even amid the many treasures of Music Preserved’s collection, this is something special. This is probably the third ever British performance of Mahler’s paean (to nature, to God and perhaps even to his own powers of creativity), and conducted by one who is still underrated, even in his own country. Sir Adrian Boult is known and prized for his sympathetic and clear-sighted support of English composers; much less so for his work on music from farther afield. And yet the Brahms recordings on EMI, which still stand the test of time, should tell us that he had something also to say in this music, which does not need indulgence of its more purple passages – and Mahler is never more purple than in his setting of the final scene of Goethe’s Faust which comprises the second part of the Eighth Symphony – but rather an absolutely authoritative marshalling of the vast forces required and a firm shaping of the long lines and detailed but never dense textures. In this, Boult is sovereign.

Something of a health warning needs to be issued: the recorded sound is very far from ideal, and it has taken many hours of painstaking work on disintegrating acetates to arrive at a point where this recording, of unique historical value, can be released. But lovers of the music of Mahler will find it not only highly instructive but (hopefully) also an inspiring, passionate and superbly drilled performance of his most ambitious work.

Boult’s Mahler - An Historic Performance This is an exciting release of considerable historical interest, though one that is strictly for the Mahler or Boult enthusiast. As the accompanying notes state, Boult is not generally thought of as a conductor of Mahler’s music, but his Mahlerian credentials are actually even stronger than suggested there. In 1934 he gave the second English performance of the Ninth Symphony (the first London performance after Harty’s pioneering Hallé presentation in 1930), the first English performance of the Third in 1947, what was probably the second English performance of the Fifth also in 1947, and probably the third complete English performance of the Seventh in 1948. Recordings of the last three performances are known to exist, the last one having been issued commercially by Testament. Boult gave the Fourth Symphony in 1927 with the Birmingham Orchestra, and at least five further performances between 1928 and 1953 (two of these being at the Proms). He gave what was probably the second English performance of Das Lied von der Erde at Birmingham in 1930, with further performances in 1938, 1942, 1945 and 1947 (two of these being at the Proms). Add to this Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen in 1931 and again in 1951, and in 1949 he gave the Adagio only from the Tenth Symphony. In 1968 he gave a concert performance of the First Symphony which he had recorded commercially ten years earlier. He also recorded Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Flagstad, and Kindertotenlieder twice, with Ludwig and Flagstad. Only the Second and Sixth Symphonies eluded his repertoire. All these were before the start of the Mahler ‘boom’ - and there may have been other performances that have eluded the net. Not bad for someone not thought of as a conductor of Mahler! The performance in question of the Eighth was probably the fourth and not, as stated, the second in England. Henry Wood had given it in 1930, 1933 and 1938 (in London twice and at the Sheffield Festival). Boult’s was the first post-war performance in the UK. Nor was it to be his last. This writer can remember hearing Boult conduct the Eighth at the Royal Albert Hall in March 1965, also under the auspices of the Henry Wood Concert Society. The symphony was clearly not to the taste of The Times reviewer in February 1948 who wrote: ‘If Mahler is to give us a vision of heaven let it be through no 4, not no 8, and if we are to have orchestra and voice discourse to us of creation let it be in the pantheistic Das Lied von der Erde rather than in this odd assortment of Christianity and the Eternal Womanly.’ Of the performance he thought it ‘was probably not very good. At any rate it lacked conviction. Sir Adrian Boult kept his far-flung forces together but did not appear to enjoy either the job or the music.’ For someone who had already conducted five other Mahler symphonies and Das Lied, this last statement is questionable; Boult was anyway not someone to show his emotions. Conducting these vast forces would have put him in good practice for Havergal Brian’s Gothic Symphony of which he was much later to give the first professional performance. Judging this performance is nigh impossible under the conditions. Neither the orchestra nor the soloists stand out with any clarity, yet the occasion has nevertheless been tolerably preserved on disc and well transferred so that one can at least get a clear idea of Boult’s grasp of the shape and architecture of the work. As with many historic recordings, with a little tolerance the ear fairly quickly accepts a far from hi-fi sound, rather as if one were listening to the broadcast on an inferior wireless set. There is a degree of ‘wow’ in places, but not serious enough to spoil the listening. We shall have to imagine Bach’s Sixth Brandenberg Concerto that preceded the Mahler! There is no doubting the importance of this issue. Can we hope that Boult’s interpretations of similar vintage of symphonies 5 and 7 will follow? Stephen Lloyd
S Lloyd