John Quinn offers the second MusicWeb International review of Thierry Fischer, the Utah Symphony, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s recording of Mahler: Symphony No. 8.
“I think it’s appropriate to start this this review by shining the spotlight on someone from the “back room” team. Step forward Mack Wilberg, Music Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The choral contribution to this performance is as fine as any that I can recall hearing. At a guess there are just under 400 adult singers involved and they make a terrific showing, not least through the clarity with which the various strands of Mahler’s choral writing come through – the engineers should receive plaudits for that, too. It’s evident that Mack Wilberg and his team have prepared the chorus expertly. The choir provides lots of strong, disciplined singing in Part I but, if anything, their contributions to Part II are even more impressive. The female singers – and the children’s choir – make an appealing, fresh sound in the passages for the Angels and Blessed Boys, the singing focused, light and agile. At the end, the hushed entry at ‘Alles vergängliche’ is superbly controlled, the singing magically quiet yet distinct, and a few minutes later, when the choir sings the same words fortissimo they really make the listener sit up and take notice.… The pick of the male soloists is Jordan Bisch. He’s quite splendid as Pater profundus and here Fischer paces the music very well indeed. This can seem a very ungrateful solo, the line compassing a very wide range. Often, basses seem strained by the writing and/or are a bit inaccurate with their pitching. Not Bisch. He’s steady as a rock, his tone is evenly produced throughout the whole range of the solo and he sings with great presence. Bravo! What of Thierry Fischer’s conducting? The first thing to be said is that he draws consistently excellent playing from the Utah Symphony. That’s especially true of Part II. … Fischer’s interpretation of the score has a lot going for it… the two performances from which this live recording were derived will have been part of the Utah Symphony’s 75th anniversary season. This set… is a worthy souvenir.”