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Mahler: Symphony No. 5 [Riccardo Chailly, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig] [Blu-ray] [2014]

2 customer reviews

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  • Mahler: Symphony No. 5 [Riccardo Chailly, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig] [Blu-ray] [2014]
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  • Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 [Christian Thielemann, Staatskapelle Dresden] [Blu-ray] [2014]
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Product details

  • Actors: Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig
  • Format: Classical, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Japanese, Korean, Dutch
  • Region: All Regions (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Accentus
  • DVD Release Date: 19 May 2014
  • Run Time: 73 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00JAAOTZS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,903 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

As Riccardo Chailly points out, "The Fifth begins with a dark, gloomy, and tragic tone, but then is enlivened in the Scherzo and Adagietto, and eventually ends with a more positive character in the Finale perhaps for the last time in Mahler's life. The Adagietto is a revelation, a spiritual oasis. It is not an expression of pain, but rather Mahler's declaration of love to Alma a song without words." With the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chailly gives the piece an unsurpassed intensity of sound and emotional expression. He achieves a compelling arc of tension in which the symphony's unique fascination unfolds. The Wiener Zeitung characterized Chailly's interpretation as "impressive with powerful and unreserved intensity."

Picture Format Blu-ray: NTSC 16:9, Full HD
Sound Formats Blu-ray: DTS HD Master Audio, PCM Stereo
Region Code: 0 (worldwide)
Running Time: 73:37 min
Languages Bonus: Deutsch, English, Japanese (tbc), Korean (tbc)
Disc Format: BD 25

Review

Chailly takes us on a journey from darkness to light, even comparing the symphony's closing bars with Offenbach (Mahler was a great fan apparently). If the rest of this projected second Chailly Mahler cycle is as good as this, then I suspect we have treats aplenty in store. EDITORS CHOICE --Gramophone, Nov'14

Without question, this is one of the finest performances of Mahler's Fifth I ve ever heard- I certainly can't think of a better one. Its s a magnificent achievement. --IRR,Jan'15

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By I. Giles HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 26 May 2014
Verified Purchase
This new recording made in 2013 joins a strong audio-video field consisting of fine recordings and performances made, in chronological order, by Rattle and the BPO (2002), Abbado with his Lucerne Festival orchestra (2004) and Gergiev and the World Orchestra for Peace (2010). All of these are strong versions but all with their own distinctive personalities. Only Abbado and Chailly offer the Blu-ray option at present but all four have excellent recordings of High Definition.

In his preparations for this performance Chailly made a detailed study of the recording made by Mengelberg in 1926 as well as Mendelberg's highly detailed and annotated notes on his conducting score. Mendelberg was closely connected to Mahler at this time and this makes him an important source of information and guidance. The most significant point of difference made compared with more modern performances is the faster pacing, especially as regards the slow movement. Mendelberg took just 7 minutes for this movement which is a far cry from some of the more indulgent tempi favoured by some conductors. Chailly takes about 8.5 minutes on this occasion and this is 1.5 minutes quicker than his previous CD recording.

The slow movement is, in fact, closely identified to Alma Mahler with a verse sub-text which rhythmically fits the melodic flow - demonstrated by Chailly in the detailed and engrossing accompanying and musically illustrated documentary. There is reason to view this movement as, in effect, a marriage proposal with all the pace of tempo that one would expect.

Pacing throughout is forward moving with a clear emphasis upon clarity of musical structure. This moves steadily towards an undoubted optimistic conclusion despite the first movement's dramatic and sombre 'Trauermarsch' heading.
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Superb! Well worth the price. Excellent in terms of sound and picture quality.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Arguably a new leader in a particularly strong audio-video field 26 May 2014
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
This new recording made in 2013 joins a strong audio-video field consisting of fine recordings and performances made, in chronological order, by Rattle and the BPO (2002), Abbado with his Lucerne Festival orchestra (2004) and Gergiev and the World Orchestra for Peace (2010). All of these are strong versions but all with their own distinctive personalities. Only Abbado and Chailly offer the Blu-ray option at present but all four have excellent recordings of High Definition.

In his preparations for this performance Chailly made a detailed study of the recording made by Mengelberg in 1926 as well as Mendelberg's highly detailed and annotated notes on his conducting score. Mendelberg was closely connected to Mahler at this time and this makes him an important source of information and guidance. The most significant point of difference made compared with more modern performances is the faster pacing, especially as regards the slow movement. Mendelberg took just 7 minutes for this movement which is a far cry from some of the more indulgent tempi favoured by some conductors. Chailly takes about 8.5 minutes on this occasion and this is 1.5 minutes quicker than his previous CD recording.

The slow movement is, in fact, closely identified to Alma Mahler with a verse sub-text which rhythmically fits the melodic flow - demonstrated by Chailly in the detailed and engrossing accompanying and musically illustrated documentary. There is reason to view this movement as, in effect, a marriage proposal with all the pace of tempo that one would expect.

Pacing throughout is forward moving with a clear emphasis upon clarity of musical structure. This moves steadily towards an undoubted optimistic conclusion despite the first movement's dramatic and sombre 'Trauermarsch' heading. As Chailly comments, tempi of all sorts of music tend to slow down with added familiarity and what he does here is to return to the original intentions backed up by historical references, recorded and written.

The playing of the orchestra is beyond peer and the recording is superlative in all respects. The imaging is sharp and engaging and the sound is presented in DTS HD 5.1 as well as stereo.

There is a 27 minute documentary during which Chailly fully justifies his approach with copious illustrations taken from rehearsal sequences as well as historical references. This is an excellent piece of research and a truly valuable bonus feature. The accompanying sleeve notes are also excellently detailed, illuminating and interesting

Chailly therefore provides and excellent alternative to the alternative readings by Rattle, Abbado and Gergiev. Rattle provides a deeply considered reading where detail is highlighted and delivered expertly by the BPO. Abbado provides more of a mystical experience of great clarity where individual members of the orchestra are given latitude to express themselves within his overall concept. Gergiev gives the most openly dramatic and virtuoso reading with emphasis upon the brass contribution especially, the superb solo trumpeter rightly being highlighted for especial applause at the front of the stage.

There is, as always, a case for collectors to acquire all four of these readings which combine to give a greater overall understanding than any one individual performance. However, given just one to choose, this new recording by Chailly could now be seen as arguably the new leader in a strong audio-video field.

....................................

Further comment that may be of additional interest:

"This is near miraculous in blu-ray surround. The Mengelberg adagietto (1926 not 1928) on Naxos, discussed and faded in by Chailly, arrived and the tears were welling up! Ian Giles, as usual gets it all right in every detail." (UK comment from last version of this review)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Chailly's Mahler in Leipzig. Not to be missed in true HD. 3 Sept. 2014
By marcocicogna - Published on Amazon.com
Ten years following the splendid engraving of the Fifth Symphony with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra signed by Abbado I am thrilled by this 5th conducted by Chailly which marks a further stage of Mahler Symphonic edition in the Gewandhaus in Leipzig.
While the music and the interpreter are essential ingredients for the final result, one should not underestimate the frame acoustics of the recording and the technical apparatus. The hall in Leipzig, we have tested in the past season with Mahler's Ninth (forthcoming), supports well the sound of a large orchestra without failing to offer a valuable relief to the most delicate episodes. The German Accentus has decades of experience in the audio and video quality. We do appreciate the wide dynamic range and the video direction which keenly follows with musical sense the development of the phrase, the role of soloists, the different instrumental sections in the game. The Symphony opens nobly with the famous trumpet solo that fills the sonic space, a dramatic phrase followed immediately by the first "fortissimo" punctuated by percussion. Here you can adjust the volume for the rest of listening and if the system is capable you'll hear a reralistic orchestra in your living room. The celebrated the "Scherzo" with its difficult role entrusted to the first horn solo is involving and brilliant. The episodes always strongly contrasts in terms of instrumental color and dynamics with the the famous "Adagietto" for strings alone and harp, a poignant moment of serenity, an oasis languid and expressive that Mahler wanted to dedicate to his wife Alma (which, however, did not have scruples about betraying him a little later). Intense and expressive, the strings of the Gewandhaus here become the absolute protagonist and we see Chailly, usually not prone to easy emotions, quite involved and I would say almost transfigured in this part. Everything is polished, not to say anything of the magnificent brass, with a trumpet session precise and incisive, while we appreciate the elegance of hand the large horn section. Absolute respect for the text and accurate return of the sense of color are already appreciated qualities of the Italian master. Chailly avoids the trap of sentimentality, taking care of a development of considerable effectiveness in which each part stands for the decisive presence. The virtuosic finale, with a conclusion that makes the heart beat faster and that, ça va sans dire, uncontrollable standing ovation. Multichannel of demonstration quality.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Almost as good as a trip to Leipzig... 21 Aug. 2014
By Craig - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
A stunning example of how good the Blu-ray format can be in bringing the listener into the concert hall. Long-term symphonic audiophiles will be delighted with the sense of actual participation with orchestra and hall. Part of this success comes from the excellent miking techniques that produce enough presence so you can closely examine soloists while, at the same time, the general ambience of the orchestra and hall are always to be heard. The visual accuracy is so good you can read the scores in front of the performers...
Chailly and the Gewandhaus orchestra are exuberant performers with physical movement aplenty -- especially the first violinist. This signals their enjoyment of the work and it is clear from the fluency with which they approach Mahler that it is one of their favorites. A bassist once said to me "there's no reason why an orchestra cannot play like a chamber ensemble" and here we have such an example -- more open space and expressive room than you would expect from a composer who is often treated in a heavy and ponderous fashion.
This is the third Blu-ray I have encountered that threatens to reestablish symphonic music as the premiere art form it could be. The other two are "Universe of Sound: The Planets" with Salonen and the London Philharmonia Orchestra and "Schumann at Pier 2" with Jarvi and the Bremen Chamber Philharmonic. Listening to these offerings on an audiophile sound system will convince anyone of just how powerful the orchestral tradition can be.
Hippopotamus in a corset? 28 Jan. 2015
By D. DEGEORGE - Published on Amazon.com
First, do not despair, there is a Blu-ray edition of this that is playable in the U. S.; you just have to look elsewhere until Amazon gets a region A or 0 in stock.

Chailly and the program annotator both make an eloquent argument to the effect that Mahler's (and every other Romantic composer's, for that matter) intentions have been perverted by a tradition of interpretation involving "long decelerandos" and "self-complacency." According to Chailly, such interpretations ignore the term in the score, "selfsame," and change it to mean "less rapid." There is always a balance to be struck between strict following of the metronome versus interpretation through ritards and accelerandos that aren't in the score. One extreme would result in a boring reading with many missed opportunities for expression; the other, in an overly self-indulgent trip in which momentum and architecture are sacrificed. In spite of Chailly's persuasive intellectual argument, I feel that he errs a little too far in the direction of an unyieldingly metrical approach. I like a taut performance, such as Georg Solti's, but not quite so rigid as this one. I do not mean to say that this performance is extreme or heartless; it still falls within bounds of reasonableness and has many poetic moments.

Chailly has a lot to say in his bonus feature about the tempo in the adagietto. He thinks that Mahler probably wanted a tempo that would have brought the performance time down to a zippy 7 minutes, but Chailly himself thought better of the idea for this performance and let it relax into a less rushed 8 and a half minutes, the same time that it takes Abbado. Consider, however, some more typical timings: Solti CD 10 min., Bernstein 1972 DVD 12 min., Bernstein 1986 CD 11 min., Levi & Atlanta Symphony CD 11 min. For me, Chailly's adagietto is a little too -etto and not enough sehr-langsam.

Maybe it's not the most apt metaphor I could have come up with, but I somehow got this image in my head of Chailly's trying to streamline a hippopotamus by putting it into a corset.

For comparison I watched/listened to the Blu-ray of Abbado conducting his Lucerne Festival Orchestra. As always, Abbado gives loving attention to every detail, with a special concern for balance. The handpicked best-of-Europe Lucerne orchestra had a lusher sounding string section, but was not as much better than the Gewandhaus as I expected. It's nearly impossible for me to recommend one of these performances over the other. Personally, I'm more excited about the Chailly than the Abbado because Chailly has something new to say, and I already have several recordings on various media of more conventional performances. If, on the other hand, one is seeking to acquire his or her very first recording of the Mahler Fifth, I'd recommend the Abbado as one representing the best of the more conventional interpretations.

I also compared this performance with the one by Bernstein that is available on DVD with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1973, Bernstein being considered by many critics to be one of the best Mahler interpreters, having a special affinity for that composer. I had thought that the audio on the Bernstein recording would have been its main drawback, but it wasn't half bad. Unfortunately, while Bernstein's heart was clearly in the right place, the execution was rather sloppy. The Vienna Philharmonic of 1972 seems to have been no match technically for the Gewandhaus Orchestra of 2013--sometimes we forget how much higher the standards are in orchestras these days; but much of the blame has to lie with Bernstein, who was often unable to keep any orchestra together--either unable or simply didn't think it was important. The video also left me feeling claustrophobic, not only because of the lack of wide-screen but also because of dark lighting, limited views of the beautiful Musikverein, and generally too much dependence on closeups - understandable because of the small screens it would have been viewed on at the time. In sum, both the Chailly and Abbado Blu-rays are superior in every major category, musical and technical, even though at times Bernstein delivers the most emotional impact.

I've tried to do my duty as a reviewer in comparing performances, but we shouldn't agonize too much about minor differences in interpretive style; any competent performance of the Mahler Fifth is an exciting thing to behold live and in person; and this disc gets one as close to the sense of being there as I can imagine.

For elaboration on the sonics, see my reviews of Chailly's Mahler #2 & #8. Without a chorus or soloists or otherwise massive forces, Mahler's Fifth is less in need of the stupendous sound provided on this Blu-ray; but the impact of the drumsticks on the tympani is thrilling, the brass are brilliantly recorded, as are the violins, although the latter verge on harsh, not so much the fault of the engineering, I suspect, as in the violin sections themselves, which lack the lushness found in the finest orchestras. There are, however, a couple of disturbing things: the wood blocks were too loud (but only very briefly), and the bass drum really was too much, especially on the DTS surround track; even if I did get a guilty pleasure in having the room shake, it simply wasn't realistic. One can solve this issue by turning down the volume on the subwoofer, by attenuating the lowest octave with an equalizer, or by switching to the stereo track.

Comparing the sound of this disc with the aforementioned Abbado, I prefer the Chailly, either in spite of, or because of, its excesses. The clarity of the Chailly is simply stunning; and while there are some aspects that can be considered artificially pumped up, the multi-channel imaging seems more natural than in the Abbado. Individual instruments, although certainly closely miked, don't sound that way; they occupy a more natural acoustic space.

Finally, the video is just wonderful--a sparkling view of a much more interesting hall than the too-plain Convention and Arts Center in Lucerne. In addition, I found the program notes for the Chailly to be more informative inasmuch as they had a lot to explain regarding Chailly's interpretation and how it related to Mahler's presumed intentions.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Four Stars 17 Nov. 2014
By Richard de Pierre - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
great performance and very good sound
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