MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

  2022
 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC
Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics

Alexandra-Quartet
Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


All HDTT reviews


Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews

 

 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom

jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 

REVIEW
Plain text for smartphones & printers


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews


all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk
Stanczyk Acousmatic Music

Oropesa

October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus

 


Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor (1904, revised 1907) [74.27]
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli
rec. Watford Town Hall, 16-18 July 1969
EMI CLASSICS 4332902 [74.27]

 
This CD proudly proclaims itself as having been re-mastered from “the original master tapes.” Well, not quite accurately. In the original LP release there was a notorious error in the scherzo (at 12.17 in track 3) where the solo horn obbligato simply missed out four bars. For the initial CD release Nicholas Busch, the errant player, returned to Watford Town Hall to restore this passage which were then spliced into the tape. Barbirolli was long dead by this time. One is pleased to hear that this amendment has been incorporated into this reissue as well. It has been omitted from some other CD issues which have appeared over the years. This is the use of technology for precisely the purpose it was intended, to make an already superb performance even better.
 
During the last decade of his life Barbirolli conducted a number of recordings which have achieved legendary status – one thinks of his Madam Butterfly, his Vaughan Williams Fifth Symphony and his Elgar – many of which would still even today number among the greatest performances of these works on disc. When Barbirolli’s reading of the Mahler Fifth first appeared on a pair of LPs, coupled with a transcendentally beautiful performance of the Ruckert Lieder by Dame Janet Baker, it would certainly have been counted among these. Even at the time doubts could be raised about the standards of the orchestral performance by players who at that date were far from familiar with the work – there are a number of minor errors of both technique and balance which nowadays obtrude. A couple of years later the appearance of Solti’s recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra highlighted the vastly superior standard of playing which could be achieved, even if Solti’s sometimes hard-driven approach yielded at a number of points to Barbirolli’s more heartfelt reading. At the present time, when we have had the benefit of a vast number of less fallible new recordings on disc, this reissued Barbirolli CD must perforce yield to the competition.
 
A word in is order about the Adagietto. In the first place, the title of the movement needs clarification. Mahler did not mean, as would have been expected by his predecessors, the title to be translated as ‘a little slowly’. In any event he usually gave his tempo indications in German rather than Italian, and the movement is clearly marked Sehr langsam – ‘very slowly’ – and within two bars he is further qualifying this with the indication molto rit. The Italian can also be translated as ‘a small slow movement’ and this fits the description far more aptly. It is the only movement in all of Mahler’s symphonies which is scored for strings alone, and it occupies a mere 5 out of a full score of 244 pages. Secondly, there has grown up a habit over the years of taking the marking Sehr langsam to its ultimate limits, so that the movement can last over a quarter of an hour in performance. This approach has been attacked by Mahler scholar Gilbert Kaplan, who contends that it should be played in about half that time or less. In evidence he cites Mahler’s own piano roll of the movement; but to this it can in turn be objected that Mahler, well aware of the limited sustaining power of the piano as opposed to the strings of the orchestra, kept the tempo moving simply to avoid any sense of the flow of the music grinding to a halt. Barbirolli tends towards the ‘slow’ rather than the ‘fast’ school of interpretation, squeezing every last ounce of emotion out of this love music; but he does not go the extremes of Bernstein, who takes over a minute longer, or Tennstedt, who takes a full half minute longer again. In fact he gets it just about right for Mahler’s Sehr langsam and avoids any sense of rush, such as can be found in other performances which trim four minutes or so off the duration of the movement.
 
Michael Kennedy’s booklet note from 1998 discusses Barbirolli’s legacy as a pioneering conductor of Mahler, describes the recording as “one of the great recordings of a Mahler symphony” but admits that it is “a spacious interpretation”. That is true only in the first movement, taken considerably more slowly than we expect nowadays and which does not altogether avoid a feeling of ponderousness as a result – although yet again he is quicker than Bernstein; the latter with more pointed playing from the Vienna Philharmonic gets more feeling of movement into the music. Kennedy also concedes that some may find the tempo for the second movement too slow. He is slightly slower here even than Bernstein. In fact, it feels fine to my ears. This was the first recording of the Mahler Fifth that I ever heard, but I would like to feel that it is more than nostalgia which makes me love it so much despite its failings.
 
Paul Corfield Godfrey