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Mahler: Symphony No. 5

13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 9, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

INCL. BONUS DISCUSSION CD

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Benjamin Zander follows his outstanding live recording of Mahler's 9th with an even more impressive version of the 5th, made in the studio and thus yielding even more lifelike sound and orchestral polish. The opening funeral march movement is especially notable for the outstanding trumpet soloist, neatly judged tempos, and natural-sounding rubato. Zander's pacing of the Scherzo follows Mahler's instructions--"not too fast"--obtaining a nice rhythmic lift from his players and allowing myriad orchestral details to come through. The famous Adagietto is taken at a flowing tempo, avoiding the leaden quality with which overly slow performances tend to stifle it. The huge finale, just a bit slower than most performances, sacrifices some excitement to clarity. The Philharmonia's horns and brass are outstanding, as are the strings, which phrase Mahler's lines with genuine affection. But the percussion, so important in Mahler, is a weak link. In sum, a fine performance in a crowded competitive field headed by Bernstein's extraordinary DG recording. What sets this apart, however, is Telarc's bonus disc--a 78-minute lecture-demonstration by Zander that serves as a terrific introduction to the work for novice Mahlerians, and will intrigue and educate even those who thought they knew this symphony inside out. --Dan Davis

Disc: 1
1. 1. Trauermarsch. In Gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie Ein Kondukt - Philharmonia Orchestra
2. 2. Sturmisch Bewegt, Mit Grosster Vehemenz - Philharmonia Orchestra
3. 3. Scherzo: Kraftig, Nicht Zu Schnell - Philharmonia Orchestra
4. 4. Adagietto: Sehr Langsam - Philharmonia Orchestra
5. 5. Rondo-Finale: Allegro - Philharmonia Orchestra
Disc: 2
1. 1. Introduction - The Orchestra - Benjamin Zander
2. The Motives - Benjamin Zander
3. The Structure - Benjamin Zander
4. The Adagietto - Benjamin Zander
5. The Scherzo-Vienna - Benjamin Zander
6. Experiencing The Symphony - Benjamin Zander

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Conductor: Benjamin Zander
  • Composer: Gustav Mahler
  • Audio CD (July 9, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Telarc
  • ASIN: B00005B7KD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,664 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Bob Zeidler on May 6, 2001
This Zander/Philharmonia Mahler 5th follows, by approximately 18 months, Zander's highly-acclaimed Mahler 9th (a performance so enthralling that I found myself writing a second Amazon.com review many months after I initially reviewed it). The good news, aside from the fact that this Mahler 5th, like Zander's Mahler 9th, is a great performance, is that it appears as if Telarc has committed to a full Mahler symphony series by Zander and the Philharmonia Orchestra, with his performance of the Mahler 4th already announced in the booklet for this Mahler 5th album as being available this August.

My total immersion in Zander's Mahler 9th was done in full awareness of the fact that he is a maestro not without controversy. Yes, I've seen the CBS "60 Minutes" segment on him. Twice. And yes, in that portrait, there is a zany, even manic, side to him. But there is a side of "missionary zeal" as well, perhaps of the magnitude of Bernstein, which not only came through in that "60 Minutes" piece but is also everywhere evident in his Mahler performances. I have had the pleasure of seeing and hearing him perform Mahler live, complete with his customary pre-concert lecture. And, to me, he is the Genuine Article: A Mahlerian who has both the knowledge and the directorial skills to get inside a Mahler symphony and present it with great expression.

This Mahler 5th fully lives up to the reputation set by his Mahler 9th. In fact, in at least a few respects, it is even better, if not greater, but that only because the 9th is a greater work. Starting at the top, one respect in which this performance is greater is the recorded sound.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Thomas F. Bertonneau on May 9, 2001
GUSTAV MAHLER (1860-1911) enjoys very nearly the same popularity today as Tschaikovsky did thirty years ago when the classical music bug bit me and I started collecting long-playing records. Mahler's very popularity has an ambiguous effect on his music, however, since in the proliferation of concert and recorded performances really exceptional interpretations become fewer while a certain characterless rote becomes the norm. Those who once felt passionately about the music, as they heard it from Titans like Bruno Walter or Hermann Scherchen, find themselves growing averse to the "Warhorse Syndrome" of overexposed masterpieces. Ennui sets in...Where it concerns Mahler, an antidote exists in the remarkable interpretive work of Benjamin Zander, who has made it his mission over two decades to renew the kaleidoscopic strangeness of the nine great symphonies and the symphonic songs. A year or so ago, Telarc released Zander's version of the Ninth Symphony, with the Philharmonia Orchestra, and one could justly say that this represented the work's most revealing performance since Walter committed it to 78RPM platters in Vienna in 1938...The opening Funeral March might seem slow in comparison to other readings, but this is because Zander wants to bring out the Kafkaesque grotesquery in it. The reiterated rhythm of the opening trumpet-signal (almost continuously present) reveals its kinship (practically its identity) with the "Fate Theme" from Beethoven's Fifth. There are wonderful touches, such as the substitution of the flute for the trumpet in the third of the three final reiterations of the trumpet-signal at the end of the First Movement. Many conductors attempt to make of the Second Movement a reprise-in-variation of the First. Zander sees it as a contrast.Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Gillespie on May 7, 2001
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Benjamin Zander could probably make baroque music interesting to me the way he is able to captivate the listener with his insights to music. As a listener, it's quite easy to feel the passion that Mr. Zander has for the music about which he speaks. Telarc is quite generous to provide the bonus commentary disc in this set. It's over 70 minutes of insight into one of the greatest late Romantic symphonies ever written. Having heard the commentary on Mahler's 5th symphony over 5 times now, I'm convinced that it alone is worth the price of the CD. It's a fascinating voyage into the music of Mahler and helps break down the complexities of Mahler so that you can further enhance your appreciation of this great work.
Accompanying this great commentary is actually a very fine recording of the 5th symphony. The reason that I don't give this CD a 5 star rating is for one simple reason---lack of rich deep banging bass. This is semi-disappointing, because Telarc has a reputation for bass-heavy recordings, and that is why I've been such a fan of their recordings. If you've heard the opening 2 minutes of Bernstein's or even Chailly's recording and are familiar with the sound, you'll easily be able to tell the difference in the recorded sound. This is perhaps not the fault of Telarc. It could very well be a balance of sound that Mr. Zander was trying to achieve. Regardless of the motive behind it, the final product comes up just short of the level of Bernstein's recording on DG--at least in the loudest passages of the symphony.
If you can ignore that one problem area of this recording, what is left is a great recording of the Mahler 5. Particularly impressive is how Zander has the Philharmonia Orchestra playing on the Adagietto.
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