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Vicotr Carr Jr., January 2015

This is a nice, well-behaved Mahler 8th, which benefits from conductor Markus Stenz’s energized pacing, along with alert orchestral playing and lively and refreshing choral work. © 2015 Read complete review

Matthew Richard Martinez, April 2013

The orchestral playing is wonderfully detailed and able to convey Stenz’s vision quite well. The upper strings shimmer with some lovely playing solos by the concertmaster. Woodwinds are never abrasive. The brass, particularly trombones, are thrilling.

Sten’s reading of the piece is really one of the most compelling aspects of this release. Where it is profound, it is done without sanctimony. Where it is exhilarating, it is done without rushing, and boy, is it exhilarating.

It gets better: the sound is vivid and amazingly three-dimensional. One feels well-situated in the hall…the orchestral and choral layers of sound are what are really amazing. The different planes of sound between the soloists, orchestra, and choirs are audible and captured stunningly.

Stenz’s vision is invigorating and extremely well executed. Add in the superb sound, and this is something special indeed. This is a must for Mahlerites and audiophiles. © 2013 Read complete review

Lawrence Hansen
American Record Guide, March 2013

Stenz…paces the music superbly, elicits superb playing and singing from his forces, and lets Mahler do all the heavy lifting. Done the wrong way, an interpretation like this can veer into the bland, safe, and predictable. But Stenz walks the other side of the line to give us a solid all-around Mahler 8 that will wear well over time.

…as an all-around, go-to performance of the Eighth that will wear well, Stenz is an excellent choice. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

John Quinn
MusicWeb International, March 2013

This is a considerable recording of the Eighth and it’s a splendid addition to the Stenz cycle. Indeed, I believe it’s one of the best issues in the series to date…Markus Stenz, in offering us a clear-sighted approach to this mammoth score manages to keep his sense of proportion and objectivity without sacrificing excitement. He really has the measure of this music and he puts it across very well indeed. His soloists…deliver their demanding parts expertly and with ringing conviction. The choirs do very well indeed and the orchestral playing is perhaps the best I’ve heard from the Gürzenich-Orchester…

I’d say the Oehms team have done a very creditable job indeed… © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, February 2013

This is mostly a bright triumphant symphony…Stenz shapes the orchestral playing and choral singing brilliantly, showing he is alert to just about every subtlety in the scoring. The Accende lumen sensibus in the first movement comes across with an ecstatic energy in its celestial sweep. The solo singers come across with both passion and commitment throughout; the various choruses sing with kinetic energy and vivid color; and the orchestra plays with such spirit and accuracy. On the whole, this performance makes other reasonably good efforts sound comparatively timid, almost flaccid.

Notable among the excellent soloists here is Barbara Haveman, who sings with beauty, intelligence, and even a sense of adventure…

…this is a major triumph. Highest recommendations! © 2013 Classical Net Read complete review, January 2013

Markus Stenz is a very fine Mahler conductor, and his Eighth reaffirms his reputation. The first part strides forth speedily and with intensity, sweeping all before it into an affirmative call…The second part opens with particularly effective orchestral scene-painting…Stenz focuses on the instrumental elements of this second part, very clearly delineating sections that bring back themes from the first portion of the work. His soloists are all fine…Brandon Jovanovich is an emotionally strong Doctor Marianus…Stenz manages to keep all six choir ensembles together and quite precise in their entrances and the juxtapositions of their sections—no small achievement. And by the time of the last 10 minutes of the work, with their climb into ethereality and affirmation of the Eternal Feminine, Stenz has produced a sense of anticipation that is brilliantly fulfilled in the wonderful final Chorus Mysticus and concluding instrumental chords. This is a performance that reaches for the stars and attains them. © 2013 Read complete review

Jean-Yves Duperron
Classical Music Sentinel, January 2013

I’m confident we can all accede to the fact that Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major can…easily be considered one of the most impressive and potent symphonic statements of all time. Written on an epic scale, with a level of confidence or should I say bravado equal to none, and displaying a masterful control of multi-layered and nimble counterpoint dished-out by massive forces. It stands on its own…conductor Markus Stenz seems to have discovered more than meets the eye within this work. He pushes and pulls, stretches and contracts, microscopes and telescopes his perceptions of the score and in doing so reveals this music’s true sonic weight. A reading as expressive as it is powerful. The Gürzenich Orchester Köln members are in fine form, the choirs solid, but it’s the soloist singers that really make the difference here. The sopranos in particular soar high and strong over even the most congested and full bore moments of this work. All of it captured in an impactful recording. This Mahler cycle on Oehms Classics has been consistently strong, and this new release brings it up one more notch. Recommended! © 2013 Classical Music Sentinel Read complete review

Robert Benson, December 2012

Markus Stenz continues his Mahler symphony cycle with this superlative performance of Symphony No. 8…All of the soloists are just about perfect, the chorus and orchestra are top-notch, and Stenz shows he is an ideal interpreter of Mahler. The ending of the second movement is appropriately paced—so many conductors rush this magnificent music. Sonically, this Mahler Eight is a blockbuster, well-balanced, blazing brass, warm hall sound, and an organ that will test your subwoofers. Don’t miss this one. © 2012 Read complete review

Barry Forshaw
Classical CD Choice, November 2012

While the Gergiev LSO/Live performance remains the yardstick on SACD—not least for its stunning opening chords, organ well to the fore, and fiercely realised though-line, this critically celebrated series of Mahler recordings with the Gurzenich-Orchester Cologne conducted by Markus Stenz has proved full of riches (if, at times, it has been inconsistent). This new 8th adds to their lustre with a lean, tensile reading, in stunning surround sound with great impact. © 2012 Classical CD Choice

John Miller, November 2012

…this recording was made in what is probably an optimal venue for the capture of a Mahler Eighth performance.

Stentz recruited no less than six choirs to his musical roster, much the same line-up as his well-praised Resurrection Symphony…Local to Cologne and nearby Bonn they are…very well-trained and experienced. The children’s choir is excellent, bright and energetic, especially in the Gloria of Part 1 and the Young Angels section in Part 2…Stenz’s somewhat…modest ensemble still produced a thrilling mass tone at climaxes, also managing the very soft, slow interludes with equal finesse.

The soloists…are well-matched and on top form. I was [particularly] impressed by Barbara Haveman as first soprano…who tackled the fiendish part written by Mahler with many high Cs, which she risks all to reach…Miraculously, her already strong voice seems to gain in strength as the symphony progresses, so that in the final bars she remarkably has enough stamina to soar above the full ensemble’s sound, together with Orla Boylan…Christiane Oelze presented a sweet, radiant Gretchen; Brandon Jovanovich (tenor) a serious and humane Doctor Marianus and bass Günther Groissböck as Pater Profundus lived up to his name, with a wonderfully dark, rich and caring tone.

Perhaps it is only Music which could carry Mahler’s message, and for believers and non-believers alike, the resounding extra brass instruments added to almost over-powering voices and instruments is always bound to make listeners (and participants) highly emotional. Marcus Stenz and his combined forces make sure of that.

There can be no such thing as a perfect Mahler Eighth. This applies to sonics too, and recording such a huge enterprise must be one of the most challenging jobs of the record industry. Given the prior experience with the Resurrection Symphony, and the ideal size and acoustical aid from the Philharmonie, the OEHMS engineer and producers have produced a marvellous 5.1 multichannel recording which probably exceeds other SA-CD accounts. This is certainly a big step forward…

This recording wraps around you like no other, thanks to the Philharmonie’s amphitheatre-like architecture and the placing of the musicians.

Collectors already engaged in the OEHMS Mahler Cycle will be delighted by this issue… © 2012 Read complete review

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