Mahler: Symphony No. 5 - Mácal
Classical - Orchestral
Mahler: Symphony No. 5
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Zdenek Mácal (conductor)
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Review by John Broggio - February 3, 2008
Another good but not great entrant to the Mahler discography.
As with his account of Mahler: Symphony No. 3 - Mácal, Mácal gives a lucid and clear reading of potentially a very disparate work. At no point does the emotional screw get turned - some might think this is a good thing! - and the conducting or playing is never boring. However, one misses an overarching sense of the structure that can be realised. There is neither the overwrought emotion that characterises what might be called the Bernstein school of conducting nor the forward-looking modernity approach that is epitomised by Abbado.
There are moments when the Czech Philharmonic are encouraged to displays of "rusticity" followed by sublime sophistication within the aural blink of an eyelid that are quite wonderful. At times the rusticity gives way to merely rough playing (this is a concert performance - no applause retained nor intrusive audience "participation") which occasionally spoils the spell that can be so entrancing.
No decision is controversial and for many this will be the undoing of the reading - so many versions exist that the music has to speak strongly through the interpreters and they appear almost apologetic here. While still available, I would strongly recommend Mahler: Symphony No. 5 - Tilson Thomas or Mahler: Symphony No. 5 - Abbado for two very different (to each other) and much more compelling than this account (needless to say the MTT account has far finer sound).
One feature that cannot be criticised is the work of the Exton engineers - a very fine patina emerges with a richly detailed carpet of sound that reveals the Czech forces pushing the Rudolphinum to its acoustic limits.
Copyright © 2008 John Broggio and HRAudio.net