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Mahler: Symphony No 5

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Feb. 10 1998)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Group
  • ASIN: B0000042I7
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #95,852 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor: Part One, Movement I: Trauermarsch. In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt
2. Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor: Movement II: Stürmisch bewegt. Mit größter Vehemenz
3. Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor: Part Two, Movement III: Scherzo. Kräftig, nicht zu schnell
4. Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor: Part Three, Movement IV: Adagietto. Sehr langsam
5. Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor: Movement V: Rondo - Finale. Allegro

Product Description

Mahler's Symphony in C sharp famously takes an hour and ten minutes to shift up a semitone. More importantly, the Fifth marks Mahler's departure from the literal, programmatic scheme, moving towards the non-conceptual. Nevertheless, it hosts a complex inner drama. Drawing a clear distinction between the dramatic tragedy of the first two movements and the almost over-optimistic Wunderhorn-like feel of the rest, Chailly and the Concertgebow's approach is broad, warm and benevolent. The "Ländler and Waltz" Scherzo really does sound like a Viennese Waltz, and its ominous horn obligato is forcefully played. The horn and brass sections are phenomenal throughout. In the "Adagietto" the phrasing does not fulfil the required span and leaves one longing for greater flexibility. The vast finale is definitely the best movement on the recording. In total, a convincing Chailly, and an elegant Concertgebouw on form--perhaps one could ask for a bit more "edge"? Yngvil V. G.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
There are some good things about this recording, such as the unique sound of the orchestra and Chailly's fairly direct approach to the piece. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of 'loose' playing in this performance. You would think it was recorded live, considering the number of late entrances and overall lack of togetherness. The trombones drag noticeably at times, particularly in the second movement. To my ear, the recording quality itself is not the best, either -- too bright in the upper registers and muddy in lower frequency response.
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Format: Audio CD
In recent years, it seems that every conductor wants to prove his mettle by tackling one or more Mahler symphonies, and the Fifth is definitely in the "Needs Expert Guidance" category. If nothing else, the piece (like much of Mahler) is just too difficult for some ensembles to tackle. Riccardo Chailly has been chalking up a complete Mahler cycle over the past decade, with impressive results, and this recording, from the mid-1990's, is one of the finest in the whole series. If Chailly's interpretation is sunnier than most, this symphony lends itself to a more optimistic outlook. It begins with one of the most famous trumpet calls in symphonic literature, a sober but glorious solo that catches a listener's ear immediately when done well -- and here it is done *very* well.
The rest of the recording is just sensational, with this terrific orchestra negotiating Mahler's extreme demands with a casual virtuosity that I find irresistible. If interpretively speaking, some find Chailly on the "non-neurotic" side, I can't disagree, but then, there are many ways to play this symphony (as well as all the others). Chailly might be faulted for erring on the side of presenting the Fifth as an orchestral showpiece, but to be fair, it *is* one! The famous "Adagietto" is done in an admirably straightforward way, letting the sentiment speak for itself without too much embellishment. If, for example, you like Bernstein's over-emotional reading of this (and I like his, too), you may not warm up to Chailly's somewhat cooler, more flowing version. But again, the emotion is in the score, and it's not necessary to "add" or "find" more -- it's all in there.
The last movement is just a knockout, in terms of the playing and sound quality.
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By A Customer on April 6 2002
Format: Audio CD
Funny how people can disagree -- I thought the Adagietto was the only "disappointment" with this recording (so "only" 4 stars). A little lacking in tension, a little too relaxed and easygoing.
Still, it's the most beautifully played, paced and recorded fifth movement I've heard. Incredible detail; if you've got a high-end stereo you'll probably reach for this recording to show off your stuff. The imaging, spaciousness, presence and dynamic range leave little to be desired. It's worth buying to hear the arrival of the chorale after a perfect buildup. The nobly descending trombone line and yelping horns, the timpani resonating ten feet beneath the floor, and the melting, devotional way the brass players sing the chorale -- goosebump material. The *huge* burst of the chorale tune's second phrase, the most effective I've ever heard on CD. It wants to take the roof off my house each time I play it. The breakneck final bars will take your breath away, again with a one-two punch of splendid detail and overwhelming power.
BTW, mvts. 1-3 are equally satisfying...A memorable scherzo, just right in the soft moments, with the wonderful acoustic atmosphere of the Concertgebouw clearly captured. You can sense Chailly really working to sustain tension in mvt. 2, where the accents and dynamic contrasts are played to the hilt. The funeral march is at exactly the right tempo, and rightly sounds here like the single most "Mahlerian" movement of all.
The Amsterdam Concertgebouw is one of the few orchestras (Vienna also) still to enjoy a sound all their own. In a world becoming increasingly homogeneous, this is something to treasure.
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By A Customer on May 16 2001
Format: Audio CD
I just got this recording and have to agree with other reviewers (and the Penguin guide). It's fabulous. The lush sound of the Concertgebouw has always been one of my favorites and it's amazing how little they've changed over the past 30 years (at least on recordings). I have the Haitink 5th from the 70's on vinyl and although I wouldn't dismiss it as one reviewer above does, Chailly's is just a little better in many respects. It's more exciting and visceral without being "over the top". Haitink's adagietto was very moving as is Chailly's. The balance is superb with the possible exception of the forward placement of the horn and trumpet solos (the players are even listed in the liner notes!) The Dutch brass sound takes a little getting used to, kind of like original instruments, but once you've listened to it a few times, especially the 3rd movement, it begins to grow on you. These players sound like they grew up with this stuff and they obviously love it. Barbirolli and the Philharmonia are fantastic but hampered by 30 year old sound (no matter what they say, it just isn't the same sonically). In short, this is a great digital version that will knock your socks off and still sound exciting and moving in 10 years (who knows what'll be around then)
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