Mahler: Symphony No 8 | CD review

Diener/Banse/Naef/Griffey/Powell/Abdrazakov/Swiss Chamber Choir/WDR Radio Choir Cologne/Zurich Tonhalle O/Zinman (RCA)

Just two releases to go now in David Zinman's Zurich-sourced Mahler cycle, which has maintained a remarkably high standard as it has moved chronologically through the symphonies. Zinman's account of the Eighth follows its predecessors in being remarkably free of mannerisms or neurosis; the affirmation of faith that comes with the huge Veni Creator Spiritus hymn, which makes up the first of the symphony's two parts, is presented in bold, no-nonsense splendour, and the far more complex setting of the final scene of Goethe's Faust that follows is charted far more circumspectly. Zinman's Mahler never peaks too soon, never shows all its emotional cards too early, that that confidence to keep something in reserve as long as possible pays dividends in the second part of the Eighth. Both solo and choral singing are consistently good – Juliane Banse is gorgeous as the Penitent Woman – but it's the measured, musical nous of Zinman's conducting that really deserves the spotlight.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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