Mahler: Symphony No.8 - "Symphony Of A Thousand" - 4785006

. . . I had a near out-of-body experience while listening to a 1971 Decca LP set, taped in Vienna's Sofiensaal, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by its legendary maestro Sir Georg Solti and featuring strong vocal soloists and great choruses . . . [now] we are treated to a High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray . . . [with eight principal soloists] as well Viennese choruses, there is no shortage of vocal fire power on stage. The performers are further stoked to a proverbial white-heat state by the often-frenetic baton of conductor Solti, making this performance one that will keep listeners on the edges of their respective seats throughout . . . [this release] truly benefits from this newer audio format. While the recording industry has moved on considerably since 1971, this was one whale of a performance then and remains so to this day.

Heading to that desert island? Don't forget to pack this one . . . Solti has held up over the years as a disc that, like his Wagner "Ring", really sets so many standards in so many departments. And since this was not a surround sound issue to begin with, this is the perfect treatment for this re-release, sounding better than it ever has -- and it was always good. For me another desert island pick, obligatory.

The organ and chorus explode at the beginning, and the massive climaxes of "Veni, creator spiritus" are unprecendented on a recording. The orchestral interlude opening Part Two has searing intensity. As recorded here, Mahler's delicate orchestration in Part Two is revealed with startling clarity. Solti never lets the music drag or unravel and his urgency holds it together without ever seeming to be episodic . . . The finale is simply overwhelming. Add to all of that, probably the finest group of soloists ever assembled for this work, and you have arguably the greatest Mahler recording of all time. All of it comes together as never before on this Blu-ray audio disc.