Hartmut Haenchen’s filmed performance of Mahlers’s Sixth Symphony with the Orchestra of La Monnaie was released by ICA Classics on DVD a couple of years ago and it came as a revelation to me (I didn’t at that point know Haenchen’s Mahler Fifth on PentaTone Classics, another startling success.) He is a really fine Mahlerian – direct and straightforward but also fiery and passionate. Haenchen was born in Dresden and he celebrates his seventieth birthday this year. He has been chief conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra since 1986 (and of Netherlands Opera – his Ring cycle is particularly well conducted). The live performance of Mahler’s Eight Symphony was recorded innthe Amsterdam Concertgebouw on September 10th, 2002 with choirs from Ukraine and Dresden and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. I have to say I love it. With a committed team of soloists, strongly projected choral singing and really fine orchestral playing, this is a most involving and exciting performance since Haenchen paces the vast structures with such a sure hand. The same can be said of the First Symphony from a concert in 1999: Haenchen invests it with such rhythmic life (the second movement really dances) and his conducting of the finale is superb. These are two really impressive performances, captured in spacious and clear broadcast sound. Haenchen’s Mahler deserves to be far better known than it is and I’d urge any enterprising collector to hear this set.