Notes and Editorial Reviews
Symphony No. 5
Yakov Kreizberg, cond; Monte Carlo PO
OPMC CLASSICS OPMC006 (74: 53) Live: Monaco 9/2010
Yakov Kreizberg passed away on March 15, 2011, three days after suggesting that this performance of Mahler’s Fifth might be issued in some form. It is thus a memorial to the conductor from the members of his orchestra, in whose hands he left the decision regarding its release.
The performance opens with a dry-eyed funeral procession without the deeper sense of
melancholy conveyed by conductors such as Benjamin Zander (Telarc) or Klaus Tennstedt (EMI). The “suddenly faster” section injects an appropriate degree of crisis; the “collapse” just as effectively leads to the coda. The final chord is muffled, a reasonable interpretive choice that works well here. Though the performance of the second movement conveys the highly charged emotion of Mahler’s markings (“Turbulently rough. With greatest vehemence”), Kreizberg doesn’t produce quite as much dramatic conflict as the best recordings, such as those by Riccardo Chailly (Decca), Michael Tilson Thomas (SFS Media), Tennstedt, or Zander.
The Scherzo is mostly jolly and genial; what’s missing is the energy needed to provide a stark contrast to part one. The solo horn isn’t prominent enough, and the instrumental articulation is too fussy, dissipating the momentum. The wistful second subject sighs wonderfully, though. That wistful quality carries over into the Adagietto, which is fluid and poignant. The finale gets off to a surprisingly tentative start, though it soon finds its feet. As with the Scherzo, there should be a more exuberant quality to this music; it’s all just a bit too proper and restrained.
The sound is strongest in the midrange and lows, while the highs sound somewhat compressed. It works well in part one, but not so well for the performance as a whole. This is a perfectly decent account of Mahler’s pivotal Fifth; what it lacks is the kind of interpretive or stylistic personality of the performances referred to above. Though the Monte Carlo Philharmonic is a fine ensemble, it can’t match the power or refinement of the orchestras featured in the recordings I cited, nor of the Berlin Philharmonic under Karajan (DG), Abbado (also DG), or Rattle (EMI). It remains a poignant memento of an esteemed conductor presented by his orchestra; that may be reason enough to add it to your collection.
FANFARE: Christopher Abbot
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 5 in C sharp minor by Gustav Mahler
Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1901-1902; Vienna, Austria
Venue: l'Auditorium Rainier 3, Monaco
Length: 74 Minutes 9 Secs.
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