Kubelik's Mahler credentials have long been established ever since his
trailblazing Decca recording of the First with the VPO in 1957 indeed many
collectors still prefer that version to others for its verve and drive. This
1981 live relay from Munich shows the Czech conductor at his most inspired
with the orchestra that was part of his life for most of his recording career.
The bold strokes of the Trauermarsch are magnificent in their eerie solemnity
with a rich resonant recording aiding the imposing nature of the music no
end. 'Sturmisch bewegt' is constructive and fullsome although other conductors
like Karajan and Bernstien have brought greater character to his music, indeed
Kubelik's own previous 1967 recording was much more involved. The Scherzo
moves about with terrific swagger, the BRSO horns have a field day and the
contributions of the strings are also quite dizzying. In the famous Adagietto,
Kubelik almost finds a heavenly pace; this is music from another planet in
such a conductor's hands. One cannot fault the Finale for its irresistible
rhythmic verve and drive that bring the work to an end in typically vigorous
fashion. Audite's recording is admirably clear and extremely vivid, indeed
the famous spacious acoustic of the Herkulessaal is quite dazzlingly captured.
There is a whole host of Fifths in the bargain and mid-price range but this
recording demands to be heard, both as a souvenir of Kubelik's immense charisma
and for its place as a unique testament of Mahler conducting to range alongside
the Bernsteins, Soltis and Karajans of the past century.
See also Tony Duggan's comparative review of recordings of
Mahlers 5th symphony