Mahler: Symphony No. 5

 
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Product Description

Mahler's Fifth was one of the pieces Leonard Bernstein owned. This interpretation is broader than the one he recorded with the New York Philharmonic in the early 1960s, but it's little changed in feeling. It is, however, far more polished and a good deal more persuasive. The recording, like all of Bernstein's later Mahler cycle, was made live; here, he and the Vienna Philharmonic give a gripping performance full of telling nuance, intensely expressive yet thoroughly controlled. It's a reading both Dionysiac and "Bachic"--as in J. S. Bach, not Bacchus--one in which the impetuous energy of the score is transmitted to the fullest degree, but not at the expense of the extraordinary (for Mahler) contrapuntal detail. Most remarkable of all, perhaps, is Bernstein's sureness of touch, his ability to realize the many little expressive gestures that no longer merely draw attention to themselves the way they used to, but add up to something miraculous. The Philharmonic players, with him all the way, contribute many wonderful touches, especially the strings. The recording, made not in Vienna but in Frankfurt's Alte Oper, is solid and has remarkable impact. While the bass is a bit diffuse and the sound stage not the clearest, the image is reasonably detailed and well balanced, the atmosphere good. --Ted Libbey

Customer Reviews:

  • There's a history here....
    I confess; I'm most fond of Bernstein's Mahler. I'm independently fond of the Vienna Philharmonic, too.

    To my ear, the opening horn of the Trauermarsch is the finest of any I've heard, and the brass overall is brilliant as sunshine when it should be. The sound of the recording is first rate, making a wonderful addition to any audiophile collection.

    If you have a problem with Bernstein's concepts, especially of the notion that Mahler can't be too exaggerated, then perhaps you'll take exception. In Mahler's time, his work was considered like a `cheap novel' or perhaps worse.

    You will hear, though, that Bernstein is powerfully thoughtful and in control. Think about that in context of the few detractors in reviews here. In the interpretation of a work of such dynamic emotional themes, should it not be that one mind brings into fruition the realization of this art with powerful influence? I think so, and here I find a great example of Bernstein's mastery long before he lost his energies.

    There's a history, here, too. The Vienna was, once, Mahler's own orchestra. For a short time Mahler conducted the New York Philharmonic, near the end of his time. In Bernstein, we have the long practiced leader of the New York bringing Mahler back to Vienna. It was more than just a visit, too. We are told that the musicians of the Vienna didn't want to perform Mahler. They and the powers in charge of the ensemble considered Mahler too syrupy, too dramatic and overdone. Bernstein struggled to convince them that Mahler's notes were as sacred as any other. Over time, the Vienna's members finally took the music to heart once again. This recording is among the fruit of Bernstein's labor, not just of the interpretation of the 5th, but of returning Mahler to his former home.
    ...more info
  • Excellent interpretation of a beautiful piece of work....
    Having originally heard this piece performed by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, I was excited to experience it again, and I have been very happy with what I found on this CD. The sound quality is very good, especially in strongly bringing out the lower sections but not overpowering the higher instruments. Each movement beautifully portrays a whole new set of emotions, covering, within the piece, a complete experience in life, beginning to end, everything included. Any Mahler fan should own this CD....more info
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 5
    Excellant condition, timely service and extremely satisfied with the
    product....more info
  • Simply Exciting!
    Of all of Mahler's works, this is truly the greatest. I feel transported to another dimension...rising and falling with the intense tempo. I personally find it not only the most outstanding classical piece, but the finest music ever written!...more info
  • This will be brief...
    It seems to me that Bernstein found himself in the shadow of Bruno Walter when it came to Mahler. After hearing recording sessions of particularly important works, Bernstein was prone to ask "Why does he do that?" (Das Lied von der Erde). One need only listen to Walter's NYPO recording as remastered by Sony to hear why. Indeed, the story goes, Columbia asked Bernstein to postpone recording Mahler's First Symphony because Walter had recently recorded it with the Columbia Symphony. Bernstein, astonished, asked how they could ask such a thing. The Walter recording was played for him and he instantly demurred: "Oh my God! That's unbelievable....It's his." And so it seems to have been for all of Mahler. The reason Walter did it that way, can be easily understood by listening to the piano roll of the 1st movement played by Mahler. Walter's musical integrity to what he'd heard Mahler play is evident in his recordings. None of the affectation or histrionics, rather pure musicality. It is the better choice. ...more info
  • Reference.
    If you're looking for the most ideal and imitated take on Mahler's most famous symphony, it's all here. Bernstein conducts not only with his famous wild and wickedly creative energy but also with some of the most mature music-making thats ever been wielded by the maestro. Sometimes Bernstein goes somewhere and only half the orchestra can keep up. Here, the VPO are incontrovertibly aware, agreeable, and accurate. The first movement is taken very slow and dark, but the colors that both maestro and orchestra provide keep the listener tingling and alert. There are moments (as usual of Bernstein) of awe of perfection. Bernstein's Sony issue was a disaster-a mess of a recording. Here, the man gets everything right and indeed, we have Mahler as it should be....more info
  • Very good
    The reason I looked for this piece was its use in the movie "Death in Venice." It has haunted me since I first saw the movie. It's nice to find such an excellent combination of orchestra, conductor, and recording label. Bravo!...more info

 

 
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