Mahler: Symphony No 8 DVD review – Chailly pays impressive tribute to Abbado

Bavarian and Latvian Radio Choirs/Lucerne Festival Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly
(Accentus Music, DVD)

Riccardo Chailly succeeded Claudio Abbado as music director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in 2015. He began his career in the 1970s as Abbado’s assistant at La Scala, Milan, and in Lucerne he inherited an orchestra that had been created in his mentor’s image. Mahler’s symphonies featured prominently in Abbado’s programmes in Lucerne; by the time of his death in 2014, only the Eighth Symphony had not been performed there.

Chailly’s inaugural concert, in August last year, was dedicated to the memory of his predecessor and devoted to that massive work. His approach is characteristically thoughtful. There’s a measured treatment of the Veni Creator Spiritus hymn, which makes it a more-than-usually convincing prelude to the setting of the final scene of Goethe’s Faust in the second part, in which he takes immense care over every texture and judges the mounting drama perfectly.

As you would expect from a handpicked band, the orchestral playing is consistently glorious. The contribution of the combined choirs is authoritative and there is a fine team of soloists, in which the soprano Juliane Banse, the contralto Sara Mingardo and the tenor Andreas Schager stand out. Released on DVD without frills, it is an impressive document.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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