CDs / DVDs, 02. May 2003
Exceeding Expectations

Visiting Amsterdam for just a few days last Fall, I was delighted to learn that Mahler's 8th was being performed in the Concertgebouw. I was somewhat deflated when I realized it was under the aegis of Hartmut Haenchen with the Netherlands Philharmonic, but the 8th was the only Mahler symphony I'd never heard live, so I wasn't about to miss it. We got 2 of the last 3 tickets when the box office opened; of course the seats were just about the worst possible, directly below the string basses. Not to worry, since in my experience there are no bad seats (acoustically speaking) in that wonderful old hall. We were rewarded with a magnificent performance! We were told this completed Maestro Haenchen's Mahler cycle. Ever since, I've been seeking out the others and have found several, including the 6th, and I can highly recommend them all. Granted, the recordings are not state-of-the-art technically speaking, but the dark, rich sound of the Concertgebouw itself shines through for me. I don't even know if the remaining symphonies have ever appeared on CD, but I'm still looking.

John Jobeless (Corte Madera, CA USA)