Classics Today 10/10.
Described by the composer as his "gift to the whole nation", Mahler's Eighth Symphony has had an equivocal reception even judged by the standards of his symphonies as a whole. Coming after three purely orchestral symphonies, each with its distinctive and provocative take on triumph and adversity, it might seem a throwback to his second and third symphonies, with their quirky though compelling hybrid of symphony and cantata. Yet the Eighth Symphony, in many respects, is the most integrated and organic symphony that Mahler had yet attempted - the result, in large part, of a genesis whose sheer suddenness and rapidity took even its composer by surprise.
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