Symphony No. 5
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|1. Trauermarsch: In Gemessenem Schritt|
|2. Sturmisch Bewegt - Mit Grosster Vehemenz|
|3. Scherzo: Kraftig, Nicht Zu Schnell|
|4. Adagietto: Sehr Langsam|
|5. Rondo-Finale: Allegro - Allegro Giocoso - Frisch|
Mahler's Fifth Symphony, a work of huge emotional and structural range, was his first purely orchestral work since the First Symphony of 1888 , and his first orchestral work to dispense with both the human voice and overtly programmatic elements. The seco
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Surely there are some things that could have been different (I hesitate to say "better") but the genius of Mahler's symphonies is the many options available to implement different views on details (e.g., tempo) etc.
In any case, I found the long architectural line beautifully done; the structure impeccably conceived; and the recording outstanding (better than EMI's Rattle & Co, in fact). And the LSO is a truly virtuoso orchestra, perfect for Gustav's music.
Naxos did it again.
DePreist's interpretation is surprising. It's quite musical and sensitively phrased, but at the same time it strongly goes against the grain by staying on the cool side of apocalyptic--melodrama is completely absent, and the force of Mahler's music isn't buttressed by "personality" conducting. At first I thought I was hearing a somewhat faceless run-through of a score that demands an apocalyptic approach, but then I adjsuted. I began to find DePreist's lack of ego refreshing. There's no lack of power in the LSO's playing, and although the engineering is a trifle distant and murky, plenty of detail emerges.
There's more than one way to hold a listener's attention, and DePreist does it by sensitive phrasing form bar to bar. The Gramophone accuses him of stop-go tactics, but I don't hear that. They also claim that he reins in the music's emotions too tightly, but Mahler doesn't have to sound hysterical and unbuttoned. He has to sound varied, multi-faceted, and vital. DePreist's Mahler Fifth is all of those things, and I liked it form beginning to end. I will be more on the looout for his work on ecords.
The London Symphony is in superb form for this outing. Because I am a brass player (tuba), I suppose I tend to notice the brass sound right away. This is gorgeous brass playing, and no, the playing and recording are not brass heavy--it all sounds right in perspective.
I also have Inbal's performance of Mahler 5th. It too is very fine but the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra does not have the weight, depth, and overtones of the London Symphony.
This is a first class production with outstanding recording quality. Recommended.
DePreist does not exaggerate Mahler's expressiveness; he lets the music speak for itself. The first two movements boast stunningly virtuosic playing by the LSO, and the second in particular is enormously exciting. Anyone who tells you this is a dull performance has not listened to the entire thing. The third movement scherzo, though taken slow, is actually quite beautiful. I enjoyed its entire duration, and did not feel that it dragged too much. (Compare that to Michael Tilson Thomas's account.) The famous slow fourth movement is as moving as I have ever heard it. The LSO strings really shine here. The finale brings us back to the terrain of the second movement. The brass section in particular really shines here. The coda is not in any way hampered by DePreist's retard that some have complained about.
This Naxos CD also features some of the most vivid sound quality I have ever heard on a compact disc, irrespective of price point. The LSO is in truly top form throughout, and DePreist's decision to underplay the angst and not highlight the mania pays off for those who, like me, don't feel that Mahler needs those elements to be underscored. (But of course they are still present even in DePreist's reading: that was Mahler's compositional style, and it is just a matter of emphasizing it or not.) So for those who have been on the fence about buying a Mahler recording for the reasons I outlined, you can do no better than this recording. You may decide to pursue Mahler further after enjoying this CD.