It has been with great pleasure to follow the glowing reputation of Zubin Mehta's fifty years of conducting the great orchestras of the world. He has mellowed from the young firebrand who put the Los Angeles Philharmonic on the map in 1962 (and remained as music director until 1978) with his charismatic podium technique and his energizing the classics with new flair. Since that time Mehta has grown into one of the great masters of the Romantic school and has refined his still palpable energy and communication with both orchestra and audience with an eloquence of introspection that makes his approaches to the classical repertoire not unlike those of the grand old men of the baton (his recent guest appearance with the LA Philharmonic conducting the Beethoven Symphony No. 3 created a rich sheen of thorough interpretation and musicianship that was in the realm of magic!).
This new recording of the ever popular Fifth Symphony of Gustav Mahler was made this year with Mehta conducting the Staatsoper Bayerisches Staatsorchester. This is a recording that is free of idiosyncrasies too often imposed on the familiar work (especially the indescribably beautiful Adagietto movement). Mehta simply lets Mahler's genius for orchestration shine. He pays great attention to dynamic subtleties and knows how to build climaxes organically. His orchestra plays splendidly for him, the lush dark tones of the deeper strings enhance the seamless lines of the violins and violas. First desk solos are all first class. In the end, this is a Mahler fifth free of gimmick, lush with emotion, and elegant with delivery. It stands among the very finest of recordings of this great work. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, December 09