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Mahler: Symphony No. 5

43 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 22, 1988
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Editorial Reviews

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

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Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Mahler: Symphony No.5 in C sharp minor - 1. Trauermarsch (In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt - Plötzlich schneller. Leidenschaftlich. Wild - Tempo I)Leonard Bernstein and Wiener Philharmoniker14:34Album Only
  2. Mahler: Symphony No.5 in C sharp minor - 2. Stürmisch bewegt. Mit größter Vehemenz - Bedeutend langsamer - Tempo I subitoLeonard Bernstein and Wiener Philharmoniker15:00Album Only
  3. Mahler: Symphony No.5 in C sharp minor - 3. Scherzo (Kräftig, nicht zu schnell)Friedrich Pfeiffer and Leonard Bernstein and Wiener Philharmoniker19:08Album Only
  4. Mahler: Symphony No.5 In C Sharp Minor - 4. Adagietto (Sehr langsam)Leonard Bernstein and Wiener Philharmoniker11:18Album Only
  5. Mahler: Symphony No.5 in C sharp minor - 5. Rondo-Finale (Allegro)Leonard Bernstein and Wiener Philharmoniker15:00Album Only

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
  • Composer: Gustav Mahler
  • Audio CD (August 22, 1988)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001G9F
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,179 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By gtra1n VINE VOICE on August 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This is one of the important Mahler recordings, even if it may not be the best. The reason is that this is the essence of the pairing of Mahler and Bernstein. The conductor's willful, extremely personal way with this music is not to everyone's liking, and that includes dedicated Mahlerians, but anyone who cares about the composer must be aware of Bernstein's approach, and this is the one disc that encapsulates it best.
From the opening entrance of the full orchestra, it's clear that this is Bernstein. The weight, the exaggeration, the expression and sense of tragedy are unmistakable. Likewise in the scherzo which is bright, brilliant, and at times just on the verge of losing control. The adagietto is, of course, Bernstein and Mahler to the nth degree, powerfully emotive, like it or not. The orchestra plays brilliantly, the sound is incredible full and alive. Appreciate it, if not enjoy it - and I would recommend the equally wonderful and very different live recording by Abbado and the BPO, which is a perfect counterweight.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Greg Hales on March 31, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This Bernstein/VPO recording of Mahler's 5th symphony is one of the best. I read the review of the person who was disapointed by it and some of his comments are valid. There are times here in this recording where the VPO's intonation is not perfect and perhaps a moment or 2 of rough ensemble. I would say however except for the Berlin Philharmonic or possible Concertgebouw, playing of this caliber is hard to find.
I saw this partnership perform this very piece in San Francisco and it was a great performance.
I feel to, that this recording is a great performance and some of the best Mahler Bernstein gave us. It is to be much perferred over his earlier record with the New York Philharmonic and is much more succesful than some of the other symphonies he recorded in New York.
This disc is one of the best in his DG series with out a doubt...only the sixth in the same cycle is of equal merit.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 1999
Format: Audio CD
I immediately bought this recording after hearing Pierre Boulez's performance of the Fifth on the radio. Why, then, did I buy Lenny? I went to Bernstein first for two reasons: for the most part, I am nearly always satisified by him. Second, I was well aware of his historic effort to reintroduce Mahler into the repertoire after decades of wrongful neglect.
At first, I did not know what to make of Lenny's version of the Fifth. The Boulez I heard was so precisely technical and straightforward that I could not reconcile it with all the power, idiosyncracy, and heart-on-your-sleeve emotion of Bernstein. Finally, after about a third or fourth hearing, I had an epiphany- -I finally knew that I loved this recording and would never be satisfied by another. I was indelibly stamped and will always recommend it to others. Just as well, I have been told that Lenny's DG version of the Fifth as well as Barbirolli's EMI recording typically elicit such strong reactions. Of whom you prefer oftentimes relies on which one you heard first.
In fact, I have gotten my once skeptical friend into Mahler after leasing him this recording. This is a fine testament to this recording and Mahler because my friend already had Mahler's Fourth but did not care for it; thus he concluded that Mahler was not worth the money. Now, not only does he believe in Mahler, but I, myself, now have all of Mahler's symphonies.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Vatsug on February 8, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This recording of the 5th is undoubtedly the most true to Mahler's score and intention, especially in the case of the "Adagietto". It is wonderfully presented here. What puzzles me is the complete and utter misconception about the tempo of this beautiful movement. Most seem to think "Adagietto" means "a bit faster than Adagio", when it reality the title has NOTHING to do with tempo. In Italian, it simply means "little adagio", which refers to the small scale/length of the movement. If you want to know the tempo of this movement, look no further than the score where it is clearly marked - Sehr langsam (very slow). How on earth would any competent conductor take this marking, made by Mahler, to mean anything other than "very slow"? Did Mahler make a mistake? Did Mahler not understand the meaning of Sehr langsam? It seems that many do not trust Mahler to mark his own tempos - which is odd, because Gustav Mahler was the epitome of precise and in-depth markings. On top of it all, the second measure (where the 1st violins enter) is marked "molto rit, espressivo" (slow up alot, expressively). So not only are you "very slow" to begin with, but you get even slower in just the 2nd measure. There are other passages in which every single note has a tenuto (accent). How can you play these notes and passages effectively if you are trampling them in a nice Andante (like the Zander recording)? If you take the time to look for all the cues Mahler is giving you, and have a real sense of Mahler and his compositions, there is no way to speed up this beautiful little Adagio.

To the reviewer (Modée) who said "...
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