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  1. #1
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    I've never heard a version of Mahler's 8th that has really turned my crank though I'd be buying this anyway for consistency within the series. I must say, however, that your enthusiasm is such that I'm looking forward to spending time with this as more than a piece in a collection.

    Thanks for sharing Wooch and congrats on the experience itself. Those times tend to be rather rare.
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  2. #2
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    What just happened??
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  3. #3
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    I've discovered the portal to the space/time continuum and effectively congratulated Wooch before he posted the experience.

    Kewl.
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    WOW! SF Symphony Final Mahler Recording: Pics and Views

    THIS IS THE FIRST POST!

    For a few years now, I've highly recommended the San Francisco Symphony's Mahler series for every possible reason -- the stellar performances, the great music itself, the incredible recording quality, AND the 5.1 multichannel SACD audio. These are not only great performances, but state-of-the-art reference recordings that were originally done in DSD. Debuting with their stunning Grammy-award winning performance of Mahler's 6th (the Tragic symphony) that they recorded the day after 9/11, the SFS Mahler series now has a total of 9 releases, all of them on CD/SACD hybrid discs.

    The last remaining Mahler piece was the massive 8th Symphony (the Symphony of a Thousand). They recorded it in a series of concerts a couple of weeks ago, and I attended the final performance on the 23rd. The CD/SACD will come out sometime next year.

    I saw the SFS perform the same piece a couple of years ago, and while it was an inspiring performance, it did not measure up to some of the better recordings of Mahler's 8th. The SFS also seemed to have a sense that they weren't ready just yet, since those concerts were not recorded and they had just done two other Mahler recordings earlier that season.

    Well, if the performance I saw last Sunday was any indication of what got captured on tape, next year's Mahler release will be my new reference recording. The concert was a big step above what I saw a couple of years ago (seats in the 11th row probably helped as well), and the SFS and chorus gave a monumental performance that very well might go down as one of the landmark recordings of that piece. Yes, it was THAT GOOD!

    Since this was the SFS' final Mahler performance, I brought my digital camera with me to snap a few shots of the hall and the recording rig. Because I sat closer to the stage this time than when I saw the recording session for Mahler's 5th, I was surprised by a few things that I saw more clearly this time around.

    First off, I never realized how many mics they use -- apparently the stage and chorus had a total of 50 microphones! Most of them are very well hidden, so I had previously assumed that they did not use any close up miking and all of the mics were mounted on the overhead rig. Not the case at all. Here, you can see the stage before most of the musicians and chorus arrived. The mics all got patched into hub on the right side of the stage.

    Click here for a larger image



    Here's a shot of the acoustic panel rig that Davies Symphony Hall uses over the stage. Before these got installed during an acoustical renovation in the early-90s, the floor seats had major dead spots. Even now though, Davies Hall does not have the best acoustics. It's a hard sound coming off the stage, and the 5.1 SACD tracks on the SFS Mahler recordings very accurately capture this, warts and all.



    Moments before showtime, you can see the full orchestra along with the four choruses in place. Mahler's 8th is one of the most demanding pieces ever written with multiple sections for most of the instruments plus eight vocal soloists and an extra horn section out in the audience. Full orchestration requires at least 800 people. This was a pared down arrangement, but still required about 400 performers. An unusual change that probably helped this concert sound so much better than the last time was separating the first violins (left side of the stage) from the violas and other violin sections (right side). I read that it made the performance more demanding, but it was a needed change to sound right.



    More shots around Davies Hall ...

    A ceiling shot that shows the children's chorus, the loge seats, and the overhead mic used to capture the crowd/hall ambience.



    This shot shows the Davies Hall pipe organ and the acoustical canopy.

    Last edited by Woochifer; 12-02-2008 at 04:11 PM.
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  5. #5
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Here are some articles that further detail the recording process (along with performance reviews).

    This San Jose Mercury News article is a detailed look inside the recording process. One insight is that they do the live recording in DSD, but also create a parallel PCM master that captures each individual microphone. Any remixing or inserts (i.e., bringing up the levels from an instrument) are done using the PCM tracks.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/mahler

    NPR also sent a reporter to cover the performance of Mahler's 8th. Includes more photos and audio links.

    http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R811211801

    Here's the SF Chronicle's gushing review (the same critic gave the 2006 performance a negative review)

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...DDI6148Q6A.DTL

    And the SJ Mercury's review (they liked the 2006 performance). They noted that during one of the silent passages, a chorus of coughs came out of the audience -- so that performance likely won't make it onto the CD/SACD release.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/editorials/ci_11032864

    Even the Financial Times sent a reviewer to the concert. I've been to several concerts at Davies, but never saw so many Europeans and other non-English speakers in the audience (LOTS of German spoken that night).

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8f66718a-b...0779fd18c.html
    Last edited by Woochifer; 12-02-2008 at 02:22 PM.
    Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
    Panasonic VIERA TH-C50FD18 50" 1080p
    Paradigm Reference Studio 40, CC, and 20 v.2
    Adire Audio Rava (EQ: Behringer Feedback Destroyer DSP1124)
    Yamaha RX-V800
    Dual CS5000 (Ortofon OM30 Super)
    Denon DVD-758 (DVD-1940ci)
    Sony Playstation 3 (MediaLink OS X Server)
    Sony ES SCD-C2000ES
    JVC HR-S3912U
    Directv HR22
    Oppo Digital HM-31
    Logitech Harmony 650
    iPad 3


    The Neverending DVD/BD Collection

    Subwoofer Setup and Parametric EQ Results *Dead Link*

  6. #6
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Very impressive. I'll have to look into these. Are they available widely?

  7. #7
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    I've never heard a version of Mahler's 8th that has really turned my crank though I'd be buying this anyway for consistency within the series. I must say, however, that your enthusiasm is such that I'm looking forward to spending time with this as more than a piece in a collection.

    Thanks for sharing Wooch and congrats on the experience itself. Those times tend to be rather rare.
    Congrats to you for answering my post before I even posted it!

    The version of Mahler's 8th that seems to be up to the task is the Chicago Symphony's 1971 performance with George Solti conducting. Along with a recording by the Warsaw Philharmonic, the CSO's performance was the one that the SF Symphony recommended in its program.

    The tricky part of recording Mahler's 8th is that symphony halls aren't designed to accommodate an 800+ person accompaniment. I originally thought that the 2006 performance's weakness was the pared down arrangement (the CSO recording used more than 900 performers, and utilized the entire auditorium -- no live audience), but it's obvious that the SFS fixed whatever issues lingered.

    I was surprised at how spot on last week's performance was, even with the pared down arrangement. The SFS can be frustratingly unfocused at times, but they will rise to the occasion when needed. For example, their post-9/11 performance/recording of Mahler's 6th was stunning. I'd seen the SFS play that piece before, and that live performance did not have the steely focus and power that got captured in their 2001 performance.
    Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
    Panasonic VIERA TH-C50FD18 50" 1080p
    Paradigm Reference Studio 40, CC, and 20 v.2
    Adire Audio Rava (EQ: Behringer Feedback Destroyer DSP1124)
    Yamaha RX-V800
    Dual CS5000 (Ortofon OM30 Super)
    Denon DVD-758 (DVD-1940ci)
    Sony Playstation 3 (MediaLink OS X Server)
    Sony ES SCD-C2000ES
    JVC HR-S3912U
    Directv HR22
    Oppo Digital HM-31
    Logitech Harmony 650
    iPad 3


    The Neverending DVD/BD Collection

    Subwoofer Setup and Parametric EQ Results *Dead Link*

  8. #8
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Very impressive. I'll have to look into these. Are they available widely?
    They are widely available at stores that carry more than a token selection of classical titles. All of the SFS Mahler titles have placed in the top 10 of Billboard's Classical chart, and I recall more than one of them reaching the #1 position. Before they began paring back their classical sections (and music and DVD sections in general), I frequently saw the SFS titles at Borders. They're also available through the Symphony's e-store, on Amazon, and other online stores. SRI Canada is the Canadian distributor for SFS Media.
    Last edited by Woochifer; 12-02-2008 at 04:46 PM.
    Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
    Panasonic VIERA TH-C50FD18 50" 1080p
    Paradigm Reference Studio 40, CC, and 20 v.2
    Adire Audio Rava (EQ: Behringer Feedback Destroyer DSP1124)
    Yamaha RX-V800
    Dual CS5000 (Ortofon OM30 Super)
    Denon DVD-758 (DVD-1940ci)
    Sony Playstation 3 (MediaLink OS X Server)
    Sony ES SCD-C2000ES
    JVC HR-S3912U
    Directv HR22
    Oppo Digital HM-31
    Logitech Harmony 650
    iPad 3


    The Neverending DVD/BD Collection

    Subwoofer Setup and Parametric EQ Results *Dead Link*

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