Mahler’s colossal symphony, cantata, and oratorio rolled into one, setting Christian liturgy and words from Goethe’s Faust, gets the spectacular performance it demands. Its premiere in Munich in 1910, by the same orchestra heard here, featured 1,030 instrumental, choral, and vocal musicians—hence its nickname, “Symphony of a Thousand.” The effect, Mahler wrote, was that the listener would “imagine the universe beginning to ring and resound,” from the explosive opening hymn of praise to the stately, Wagnerian orchestral opening of Part II, the symphony’s imploring, beautiful bass aria and its transcendent, redemptive choral ending. Gergiev, the Munich Philharmonic, and massed voices in the hundreds project Mahler’s musical universe in glorious, vivid color.
Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major, "Symphony of a Thousand", Pt. 1
Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major, "Symphony of a Thousand", Pt. 1: I. "Veni, Creator Spiritus" (Live)