In any good performance of a Mahler Fifth Symphony - no matter
the sound quality - there should be moments where you are taken
by the lapels and your concentration held at least episodically
if not for the entire duration.
find plenty of those moments in Václav Neumann’s first, 1967
recording with the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester on Berlin Classics.
Taking the symphony at a wonderfully unsentimental clip, Neumann
finishes in under 66 minutes and is exemplary for his natural
style, colorful woodwinds, and driven passion. The Adagietto,
a definite highlight in the Czech conductor’s hands, is not
cloying in the least and therefore uncommonly beautiful.
distortions at the climax of the last movement notwithstanding,
the sound is good. There is no documentation that comes with
the three recent super-budget issues I have seen: one on “Basics”,
another on “Schätze der Klassik”, and most recently on Brilliant
Classics 93278. On the other hand, Mahler veterans won’t really
need it and Mahler neophytes will seek it out on their own after
hearing it. A dark horse Fifth-of-Choice.
van Zweden and the London Philharmonic have added to the glut
of Mahler Fifths in the catalog on their LPO Live label.
Another new recording of an orchestra that isn’t in the highest
tier, under a conductor who isn’t widely - though apparently
locally - known for his Mahler. What a happy surprise then to
find it such a solid performance, bordering excellence. Nothing
outrageous or exotic in this interpretation; it’s simply well
and passionately played, with tasteful choices and measured
tempos exhibited throughout.
opening trumpets’ crescendos could be more forcefully staggered,
the first tutti more impressive. Why does Kubelik still
remain unmatched here, 58 and 38 years after his first two recordings?
The second movement — “Boisterous. With the utmost vehemence”
— is particularly successful, with the gripping momentum van Zweden
builds up. The sound doesn’t compare to the best (Levi,
Chailly), nor the interpretation to the most compelling (Boulez,
Bernstein), but it’s a Fifth that anyone could live with happily.
For anyone who particularly cherishes the artists involved, it’s
an easy recommendation.
Read Tony Duggan’s survey
of Mahler Fifth Symphonies here
A list of other reviews of
this symphony on MusicWeb International can be found here