Notes & Reviews:
"If close personal involvement from the conductor is what you're looking for but one that sees things more "in the round" Leonard Bernstein with the Vienna Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammophon (452 416-2) is a much better prospect. I'm no knee-jerk admirer of Bernstein in Mahler, but even I have to admit his Vienna Fifth is a performance of thrilling power and eloquence. The huge dynamic range of the recording in the opening pages is indicative of what is to come. This is a performance that storms the heights and depths of this work like no other. The elegiac passages of the funeral march are filled with the deepest emotion, dragging themselves along. Then the jump-off point at the first Trio is big, eloquent and wild, with the brass especially resplendent and the strings at full stretch. Bernstein seems to be in superb control of the intensity, however, not letting too much emotion cloud the issue. At the conclusion of the movement, at the "Klagend" marking which sees the music spiral down to silence, notice his care for the lower strings. The second movement sees Bernstein and the orchestra throwing caution to the wind by tearing into the maelstrom with lower strings again really biting and the big bass response of the recording balance letting us hear everything. After the first storm has subsided, the woodwind seem a little distanced from everything else which is a pity but is in keeping with the larger-than-life sound picture the engineers seem to be aiming for. This is one of the best readings of this movement you are likely to hear with every twist and turn of this extraordinary music catered for. For example, the "monody of the lamenting cellos" is so wonderfully withdrawn you almost want to hold your breath. In fact Bernstein makes the whole of this incident-packed movement into a seamless cloth with the Vienna Philharmonic at times playing like things possessed. The chorale climax is immense and so too is the final collapse with trumpets blazing followed by a really spooky rendition of the strange closing pages. An extraordinary performance.
Bernstein's approach in the Scherzo is similar to Barbirolli's in that he is prepared to give every episode the space to breath, but Bernstein is blessed with the better orchestra. There is a fine lift to the rhythmic life of the movement also and Bernstein is a master at pointing-up of all those little "moments" others can miss. The ending finds him as exuberant and joyful as you could wish with the Vienna Philharmonic playing at the top of their form. This is followed, as you might have expected, by a very intense Adagietto filled with rare tenderness. Bernstein is slower than Schwarz, Walter and Barbirolli here, but not so slow he distorts the piece out of shape. Then in the finale he and the orchestra carry all before them. Again, the depth of the recording's dynamic range might bother some. But especially memorable is the warmth of heart in the climactic passages and the conclusion itself where Bernstein pulls out all the stops, capping the earlier appearance of the chorale with a no-holds-barred broadening of the tempo at the moment of release. This is, therefore, a superb realisation of the Fifth Symphony. A roller-coaster of a performance that will give you all you could possibly want from it, and some more. Maybe Bernstein goes to excess a few times, but that was the character of the man and captured here "live" he is irresistible." -MusicWeb International.
"Best of all is Bernstein himself, here at his exciting best, giving daemonic edge to the music where it is appropriate and building the symphony inexorably to its final triumph. Thanks to a very clear and well-balanced recording, every subtlety of scoring, especially some of the lower strings' counterpoint, comes through as the conductor intended"-Gramophone
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Works DetailsMahler, Gustav : Symphony no 5 in C sharp minor
- Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
- Ensemble: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
- Running Time: 75 min. 2 sec.
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Form: Orchestral
- Written: 1901-1902
- Studio/Live: Live