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Symphony No.5

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic
  • Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
  • Composer: Gustav Mahler
  • Audio CD (19 April 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000025WTE
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,805 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. 1. Trauermarsch (In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt - Plötzlich schneller. Leidenschaftlich. Wild - Tempo I) - Berliner Philharmoniker, Dr. Hans Hirsch, Hans Weber, Herbert von Karajan, Günter Hermanns, Volker Martin, Klaus Behrens, Gustav Mahler
  2. 2. Stürmisch bewegt. Mit größter Vehemenz - Bedeutend langsamer - Tempo I subito - Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan, Dr. Hans Hirsch, Hans Weber, Günter Hermanns, Volker Martin, Klaus Behrens, Gustav Mahler
  3. 3. Scherzo (Kräftig, nicht zu schnell) - Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan, Dr. Hans Hirsch, Hans Weber, Günter Hermanns, Volker Martin, Klaus Behrens, Gustav Mahler
  4. 4. Adagietto (Sehr langsam) - Berliner Philharmoniker, Dr. Hans Hirsch, Hans Weber, Herbert von Karajan, Günter Hermanns, Volker Martin, Klaus Behrens, Gustav Mahler
  5. 5. Rondo-Finale (Allegro) - Berliner Philharmoniker, Dr. Hans Hirsch, Hans Weber, Herbert von Karajan, Günter Hermanns, Volker Martin, Klaus Behrens, Gustav Mahler

Product Description

KARAJAN HERBERT VON / BERLIN P

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

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This was Karajan's first Mahler recording, and he is immediately shown to be a Mahler conductor of the first rank, and (this is personal) to me, a more idiomatic and sensitive interpreter of this complex music than Bernstein ("HERETIC!" they yelled, - "BURN HIM!").
The Berlin play with amazing power and refinement, but colours are often very dark, there is no feeling of skating over the surface. As in his (mighty) recording of the Sixth Symphony Karajan seems to know instinctively when to give the music room to breathe, and where to make sure textures lighten. A very fine recording indeed.
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I think this is my favourite Mahler symphony; I love the inevitable Brahmsian sweep of its construction from abject grief to triumphant jubilation and this reading from Karajan, in his first Mahler recording, captures the distinct mood of every movement perfectly. Karajan brings a very grand, monumental approach to the first movement - almost sombre and restrained - and the silky-smooth sonority of the BPO might at first cause you momentarily to wonder whether we are in for a bland "Karajan soup" interpretation - but far from it; each movement is vividly and aptly characterised to perfection. There are moments of great power and release but also a realisation of Mahler's quirky humour - not a quality we always associate with Karajan.

He generates extraordinary intensity and momentum towards the climax of the second movement; this showcases the BPO in its absolute heyday before it was partially emasculated by a succession of conductors intent upon temporising its famous Klang. The third movement is rambunctious, chaotic and drunk with the sheer joy of invention - it takes some skill to encompass mayhem with such precision and unanimity. Remember: Karajan was also a master of the "other" Strauss, Johann, and applies ritenuto and rallentando to perfection. The Adagietto is suffused with a long-breathed serenity, dangerously etiolated without ever dragging; how those strings sing! The exposition of that final long melody, with its exquisite cadence, is like an angel's sigh. The finale is a riot of fairground jollity akin to Holst's "Jupiter"; fat with a jovian plenitude of good humour and motoring towards an explosive celebration of life - how different from the conclusion of the next symphony.

OK; so you gather I like this recording? I'm not saying it's the best; I also love Shipway, Abbado with the CPO, Barshai and Solti - all provide slightly different experiences - but you cannot go wrong with this classic.
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I have several versions of this work so let me admit that this one wouldn't make it to my final choice for 'desert island discs'. But this is massive and majestic Mahler- Beethoven on steroids if you like- played with great refinement by the Berlin band. Only if you enjoy that painful nostalgia that Mahler so readily evokes will you feel driven to look elsewhere. As an example, in the achingly beautiful adagietto, Karajan achieves an unalloyed sweetness which may not have been quite Mahler's intention but is undeniably affecting nevertheless. The recorded sound is excellent although not quite as airily atmospheric as some of the more recent recordings.

So there you have it. Not an obvious front runner but a safe choice nevertheless. But then it would be foolish to nominate a front runner for fear of the hornet's nest that would provoke.
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Format: Audio CD
Over the years, my appreciation of this interpretation has grown with each successive playing. The power of the opening two movements (and how well the "Chorale" theme is presented at the end of the second: a radiant glimpse of the conclusion of the work); the astonishing balance of the Scherzo (teetering between Waltz and catastrophe); the resolute joy of the Finale (Karajan was a superb conductor of Comic Opera and it shows here). These are characteristics that don't immediately emerge on first hearing: instead, the sweetness of the Adagietto is what most stands out, perhaps slightly cloyingly - as the context becomes clearer, however, this sweetness fits into the emotional world of the whole work, perfectly placed (and paced) in the surrounding movements.

If there is room for only one interpretation of this work, I would still recommend Bernstein's DG recording with the Vienna Philharmonic. But this work is bigger than any single performance of it, and Karajan's reading of the score reveals facets that don't figure in Bernstein's world.
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