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  San Francisco Symphony -
  Mahler: Symphony No. 5 - San Francisco/Michael Tilson Thomas
  Mahler: Symphony No. 5

San Francisco Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 12 show all

Reviews: 4 show all

Review by sgfnorth November 23, 2006 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This cycle has been consistent in both the excellence of the recorded sound and the clarity of the direction provided by MTT. This SACD captures the sound wonderfully - and MTT's ear for detail makes this a double delight. The orchestra are superb - quite on a par with the best in the world, in particular the winds sound like a band operating like a flock of birds as one yet each independent, the solos are wonderfully moulded to the music. The brass are especially characterful too - nice to hear a difference between horns and trombones.

For me this work is not a favourite amongst Mahler's output and often can sound trite. MTT avoids any melodrama but in following the composer's instructions he reveals something akin to over composition IMHO. The result is that I find the finale slightly underwhelming as he follows the composers fiddling with tempi to the letter. The middle movements more intriguing and have real depth and MTT is a most satisfying story teller.

I find I'm getting to like it more each time I listen - hearing something new with every audition.

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Review by Dr. O November 16, 2006 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Another great addition to the Mahler symphonic cycle by MTT and the SFS! Now, only the mighty 8th remains to be recorded and released!

I attended the live performance of this work. It continues to be a joy to me to hear how wonderfully the full range and the subtle acoustics of compositions such as this can and are "captured" by the recording engineers. As with all of the other releases, this one too takes its place with them as a total triumph!

The Adagietto is, of course, sublime. You will simply be mesmerized by it! And the wonderfully playful and at times abrupt dynamic and timbral explosions - so much a trademark of Mahler's style - are captured in a most wonderful and satisfying way!

Mahler devotees owe it to themselves to own every single installment of these magical performances by all involved - the Maestro, the Orchestra, and the superb recording specialists!

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Review by seth December 21, 2009 (5 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Thomas leads a big romantic performance of the 5th. While he never gets in the way of the music, he has few insights to offer -- it's a solid performance, but I didn't feel that I took anything new away from the Symphony. The only major gaffe of his is a bit of rubato before launching into the 5th movement coda. Above the penultimate bar before rehearsal number 34, the score says: "rit. molto accelerando;" then at 34 it says "allegro molto." It sounds like MTT treats the penultimate bar as ritardando times the already ritardando tempo that the music has been in since the 8th bar before rehearsal number 34. And then there really isn't any "molto accelerando" -- it's just "allegro molto." Prior to hearing this recording I heard Thomas do the same thing live in concert; I thought it was a snafu by the orchestra. After I heard the recording, I realized that this was a deliberate choice, and a terrible one in my opinion. It sounds like someone in the orchestra is hesitating and holding the rest of the musicians back. I guess this is a minor quibble, but I find it frustrating to listen to.

My only other complaint is that Thomas takes the adagietto rather slow. Not only do I think the music sounds better when played faster (such as 9 minutes total playing time), but it fits better into the overall architecture of the Symphony. The adagietto is more of an intermezzo than a movement.

Like the interpretation, the sound is big and warm, but problematically over-reverberant. Instruments physically located in the back of the stage have a hard time coming through in the balance. For instance, the triangle can be barely audible in the tuttis. Further, either the sound in the rear speakers is too loud or the microphones that provided content to the rear channels were placed too close to the stage. I say this because every once and a while it sounds like a trumpet is seated at 3 o’clock to my listening position.

Overall, not a bad recording, but it does nothing to challenge recent and classic favorites.

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Works: 1  

Gustav Mahler - Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor