Mahler Symphony No. 8

San Francisco Symphony - Mahler Symphony No.8 - Cover Image

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Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor

Erin Wall, soprano
Elza van den Heever, soprano
Laura Claycomb, soprano
Katarina Karnéus, mezzo-soprano
Yvonne Naef, mezzo-soprano
Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor
Quinn Kelsey, baritone
James Morris, bass-baritone

San Francisco Symphony Chorus Ragnar Bohlin, director
Pacific Boychoir Kevin Fox, director
San Francisco Girls Chorus Susan McMane, director

Recorded live at
Davies Symphony Hall
Symphony No. 8
November 19-23,2008
Adagio from Symphony
No. 10 April 6-8, 2006

This recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and Adagio from Symphony No. 10 was made possible by the encouragement and generous leadership funding of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

Additional support was provided by Nancy and Joachim Bechtle and the Buffett Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County.

Producer: Andreas Neubronner
Balance Engineer: Peter Laenger
Tape Operator: Andreas Ruge
Editing, Remixing, and Mastering: Andreas Neubronner
Technical Assistance: Jack Vad
Art Direction and Design: Alan Trugman
Cover Photo: Chris Wahlberg
Inside Cover Photos: Kristen Loken Anstey
Mahler Photo: Médiathèque Musicale Mahler, Paris
Editorial: Larry Rothe
Electronic Media Assistant: Steven Holden

Mahler was given to large public statements, and his Eighth Symphony is the most extravagant of these. At the same time, its many moments of tenderness and intimacy look ahead to the music he was still to write, Das Lied von der Erde, the Ninth Symphony, and the impassioned Adagio from the work left uncompleted when he died, the Symphony No. 10. On this recording, we encounter the most expansive music Mahler wrote, alongside a work of deep introspection.

Goethe’s Faust is a recklessly inclusive composition, one to which Mahler must have looked as he planned his own unprecedentedly global symphonies. In his Eighth Symphony, joining Faust to Veni, creator spiritus—linking the complexities of Goethe’s humanism to the questionless faith of an eighthcentury Christian hymn—Mahler sought to create a similarly encompassing work.

Mahler had his own misgivings about going beyond the Ninth. He had called Das Lied von der Erde a symphony without numbering it, so that the symphony he called No. 9 was actually his tenth. Thus he had dealt with “the limit” by circumvention. Mahler moved virtually without pause from the last pages of the official No. 9 to the first of No. 10. In 1911, the discovery of penicillin was still seventeen years away. Had that antibiotic been available to combat his blood infection, he would almost undoubtedly have finished his work-in-progress.

—excerpt from liner notes by Michael Steinberg