"Rattle’s ear for balance and clarity makes him an ideal Messiaen conductor. Under his attentive direction, the LSO percussion and wind players delivered the full sonic spectrum of the composer’s visionary Couleurs de la Cité Céleste, with the Messiaen specialist Pierre-Laurent Aimard playing the work’s glittering piano part."
"When one first hears this work, the soundscape normally makes the greatest impact. In Rattle’s account, though, the unifying roots in plainsong and ritual were just as imposing."
"Rattle absolutely grasps the sense of personal and tonal struggle that is fundamental to this symphony (Bruckner 8). The tendency to quickness, which was even present in the great adagio, gave the performance a dimension of desperation that one does not often get from a more reverentially anguished Brucknerian approach."
The Guardian/Martin Kettle
"There’s far more to Bruckner than his devout, naïve image suggests. Rattle delivered the huge waves of humanity that surge through this score while achieving a level of intensity both subtly graded and consistently maintained."
"In Rattle’s hands the harps of the Scherzo’s trio sounded less celestial than life-affirming, while the Adagio moved with hard-won conviction in a huge arc from its opening of Mahlerian angst and heavenward aspiration to a sense of spiritual confidence."
"As with the preceding movements, every bar of the finale was stamped with both urgency and gravity, blazing to a stirring peroration. The players of the LSO covered themselves with glory, as they had done with the preceding performance of Messiaen’s Couleurs de la Cité Céleste."
"...what Rattle and his players did offer was bright, incisive articulation, razor-sharp precision and exuberant brass evoking the seven angels with seven trumpets of the Book of Revelation vision that inspired the composer."
The Evening Standard/Barry Millington
"Last and most imposing of Bruckner’s completed symphonies, the Eighth invites and frequently receives architectural comparisons. Such talk of pillars and cathedrals could only be wide of the mark in the wake of this unconventional, beautifully prepared and deeply humane performance by the London Symphony Orchestra and their principal conductor designate, Sir Simon Rattle."
"The tempi were flexible, so that one episode eased into the next and although the pulse often changed, the harmonic undertow remained strong and steady. So did the narrative coherence of a piece which is often heard in terms of imposing but essentially static blocks placed beside one another for contrast more than continuity."
"Evidently rehearsed and run in after concerts in Luxembourg and Paris, there was much truly quiet playing to treasure – the first movement expired like a guttering flame – but more pertinently the distinction between forte and fortissimo always meant something. Never once blasting or blaring, this was a Bruckner performance for the unconverted."
The Arts Desk/Peter Quantrill
"The mosaic-like Couleurs de la cité céleste, for solo piano, winds and percussion, is not an easy piece to love. But Rattle knows how to make it work: by indulging its extremes...every transition to stillness and grandeur came as more of a shock; Rattle negotiated them with precision."
"...we heard the eighth symphony, probably the most monumental of them all, in a performance showcasing Rattle’s trademarks: roaring climaxes, perfectly balanced brass, sumptuous lower strings."
"...in squeezing out every shred of warmth, Rattle gave us something that communicated directly, reminding us that, within this stony edifice, there lurks a Romantic soul. It also triggered genuine passion in these musicians, who clearly love playing under him."
The Financial Times/Hannah Nepil