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Vespasiano

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major

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Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major ("Symphony of a Thousand") was completed in 1906 and received its first performance in 1910 with the composer himself conducting. It is the last of Mahler's large-scale works to have been premiered during the composer's own lifetime. The Symphony No. 8 might arguably be considered to be, in many respects, the apotheosis of the German Romantic musical tradition. Unlike much of the composer's other work, which tends to explore the darker or more sorrowful of human emotions, this symphony, written with lightening speed in one single burst of inspiration (very atypical for Mahler!), is a celebration of the human spirit, the human quest for spiritual fulfillment and, most important, the uniquely human capacity for the achievement of that spiritual fulfillment. For me, it is an optimistic work of almost overwhelming power and beauty.

A spectacular complete LIVE performance from 1991 is now available at YouTube. The performance features the London Philharmonic Orchestra and massed choirs under the direction of the legendary Klaus Tennstedt, with a cast of soloists including among others Julia Varady, the young Jane Eaglen, Hans Sotin and Kenneth Riegel.

Texts and translations for the symphony can be found HERE.

As an introduction (for those who may not wish to listen to the entire piece at one sitting), here is the opening movement of the Symphony No. 8 from this 1991 performance:

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major -- Part I

And for a YouTube playlist consisting of the complete performance:

Complete Performance

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