Mahler: Symphony No.5

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LABELS: Accentus
ALBUM TITLE: Mahler: Symphony No.5
WORKS: Symphony No.5
PERFORMER: Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/ Riccardo Chailly


Clarity with power, clear balances and ferocity combined: Riccardo Chailly’s latest Mahler Five surely has the best of all possible worlds for this comprehensive darkness-to-light epic. It’s rewarding to see the Leipzig Gewandhaus strings articulating with such mobile engagement; and you know you’re in a master narrator’s hands from the powerful opening trumpet solo of Lukas Beno (both he, the engaging leader and the horn obbligatist should be credited in the booklet). Chailly follows on from a devastating low pizzicato sforzando at the end of the first movement without a break, plunging in to the agonising protests of the related second with utmost clarity.


It’s maybe unnecessary to know the motivations behind this and a supple, songful Adagietto, beautifully underpinned by the wonderful Leipzig harpist, but Chailly’s commentary in the extra is often enlightening. What a shame that only the previous of the four instalments had anything similar; and here the conductor holds forth with the precious score annotated by a predecessor of his at the Concertgebouw, Willem Mengelberg (Chailly is careful to parallel his achievement with Bruno Walter’s in Leipzig). Mengelberg’s inscribing of love-song words to the great melody has been contested, but they certainly fit the line, as Chailly so wonderfully demonstrates. Producer Paul Smaczny has found a Mahlerian almost as great as Claudio Abbado to film. Just one concern: the cameras fail to pick out one teenager in the audience, and yet it’s exactly that kind of newcomer to whom this electrifying performance could appeal. David Nice