CDs / DVDs, 01. Oktober 2013
... Considering that the Eighth usually takes up a double-disc set by itself, getting these two works together is an extraordinary value, and considering that Hartmut Haenchen and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra turn in first-rate live performances of both symphonies, bargain hunters should definitely consider this set. Haenchen's pacing is steady and consistent, and his avoidance of excessive rubato keeps the interpretations from sounding sentimental or self-indulgent. His handling of the multiple vocalists and choirs in the Eighth also seems rigorous and disciplined, so the "Veni, Creator Spiritus" is ecstatic while also being highly propulsive, and the Final Scene from Faust holds together admirably, despite Mahler's episodic structure and long stretches of soft, mystical music. While these discs are conventional stereo CDs, the music is quite clear and detailed, and the reproduction gives the orchestra full sonorities and reasonably spacious sound.
Blair Sanderson
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