The young Gatti made his mark by revitalizing familiar works, adding his own fresh take. Like Gustavo Dudamel, who has recently released his own bright-eyed, impetuous Mahler Fifth, Gatti's is highly expressive and free in its phrasing. The first movement is a bit stop and go, but after that Gatti shoots straight ahead, opting for thrills in the fast parts and heart on sleeve in the slow ones. The Royal Phil. isn't up to the Berlin Phil. in executing Mahler's demanding orchestral writing, and the ensemble turns a little helter-skelter at times, but the playing sounds committed and involved (unlike, say, the playing that Maazel gets from the Vienna Phil. on Sony). The recording is clear, if not remarkable, and serves the score well. In any event, a fine Mahler Fifth that succeeds through the conductor's considerable imagination and enthusiasm for the music.
P.S. 2010 -the above review was written when Gatti had peaked, traveling among the major orchestras as a Mahler specialist. His reputation hasn't risen since then, and his tenure at the Royal Phil. wasn't the galvanizing event that it could have been. The problem, I suspect, isn't entirely his. We live in an era where the Mahler Fifth has been recorded more successfully than the Beethoven Fifth. In the Sixties this recording would have seemed astonishing, but today it seems very good but not inspired.