I'm afraid Chailly's Mahler 8th just isn't doing it for me. Jane Eaglen's
pinched high C in the midst of the Alles Vergangliche made me long for
Elizabeth Connell's superior, (and oh *so* rapturous), execution on EMI
with Tennstedt. Has anyone done it better? Granted: smaller choir and
almost non-existent off-stage brass; but Tennstedt's handling of the final
chorus coupled with the urgency and exaltation of the coda is hard to
forget in my book. As is the warmth of the orchestra and blessed boys of
Er Uberwacht.... Of all the modern performances Tennstedt's is the only
one I have come across where conductor and performers manage to hold the
mystical aspects of Mahler's music right through to the final chords.
Although smaller forces are involved, no one breaks the spell.
Anyway, I discovered that the EMI 8th is only available right now as part
of a box set containing the complete symphonies, at a very good price I
might add. I picked it up and ya know? The cycle is *not* bad. Some
odd tempo tinkerings here and there, but some playing of real character,
charm and intensity; and execution is not as rough and distracting as some
reviewers would have you believe. I'm not a box-set kinda guy, and of
course there are better performances out there of all the symphonies, (esp.
the 7th), but I have to report that exploring Tennstedt's Mahler has been
very enjoyable. And 11 CD's for @$70....