Mahler's 8th at SFS
November 22, 2008
* Notes *
Michael Tilson Thomas and San Francisco Symphony continued their Mahler recording project with Mahler's Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major, the so-called Symphony of a Thousand. The work struck me as a bit strange, the first part being in Latin and rather religious in feel, whereas the second part is in German, and more like an unstaged opera or an oratorio. Overall the work seemed both impenetrable and architectural to me, especially the Latin bit, which I had more difficulty understanding.
The soloists were wonderful, though I was particularly fond of baritone Quinn Kelsey, soprano Erin Wall, and most especially of soprano Elza van den Heever. These three were best at cutting through the immensity of the orchestration and the three choruses. Kelsey's voice is perfectly warm and velvety, and Erin Wall's was rather the opposite, icy, but lovely. Van den Heever's voice sounded as gorgeous as ever, full, lovely, yet not at all cloying.
* Tattling *
Despite all the microphones and admonitions, a few people still whispered during the sold-out performance on Friday. The noise levels were much more reduced than usual, though the person to my left did hum along a few times.
Both Elza and Erin were crying by the end of the performance.