MAHLER: Symphonies 2, 8 & 10 – Wyn Morris – HDTT (2 audio-only Blu-rays)

Three Mahler symphonies in hi-res sound and recent recordings on Blu-ray audio-only. 

GUSTAV MAHLER: Symphony No. 8 “Symphony of a Thousand”; Symphony No. 10 (Deryck Cooke version) – 2016 – High Definition Tape Transfers Blu-ray stereo ****:

GUSTAV MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” – 2016 – High Definition Tape Transfers Blu-ray 5.0 surround and 2.0 stereo ****:

The first of these SATA has little technical information, but features the Symphonica of London conducted by Wyn Morris with the New Philharmonia Chorus, Brucker-Mahler Choir of London, Ambrosian Singers, The Orpington Jr. Singers, the Highgate School Choir and the Finchley Children’s Music Group.  This strange Mahler symphony opens with the glorious Veni Creator Spiritus, and then goes to the three movements from Goethe’s Faust, with a stultifying number of soloists in the various parts of the opera about Faust and the Devil.

A number of different arrangers have had their hand at completion of the Tenth Symphony of Mahler, and many orchestras perform just the first movement, since that was the closest to Mahler’s intention at the time. However, the indefatigable Deryck Cooke has produced a full-length performing version of the Tenth, which is heard here, played by the New Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Wyn Morris. Faced with both his coming death and the unfaithfulness of his wife, this is Mahler’s most dissonant symphony.

The Symphony No. 2 is a live performance as part of the Texas Music Festival, recorded in June 2014 by John G. Proffitt at the Moores Opera House, University of Houston using the latest 5.0 audio setup and thus preserved on this audio-only Blu-ray. The two soloists are Cynthia Clayton, soprano, and Melanie Sonnenberg, mezzo, with the Houston Symphony Chorus. The vocal parts are excellent, though there are a couple of near-clams in the brass section on some of the orchestral parts.  However, the dynamic range and realism of the recording beats all of the competition.

—John Sunier

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