Magazine article Gramophone

Mahler: Symphony No 5

Magazine article Gramophone

Mahler: Symphony No 5

Article excerpt


Symphony No 5

Minnesota Orchestra / Osmo Vanska

BIS (F) [SACD (Super Audio CD) DVD Video] BIS2226 (76' * DDD/DSD)

Robert von Bahr's label must be one of the few to have ducked I the release of a Mahler cycle (at least until now) and, if the big pluses of this initial instalment are primarily sonic, BIS's SACD format is certain to wow audiophiles. Even heard through two channels the recording is spacious yet precise and, true to form, the dynamic range is vast, complementing Osmo Vanska's partiality for music-making on the threshold of audibility.

Still, his band's rather lean sonority for me remains a limiting factor in this repertoire, which is not to deny that its sharply etched responsiveness lends novel clarity to many passages.

The Fifth Symphony launches the series more successfully than listeners with memories of the same team's 2006 BBC Proms performance might have expected. The orchestral playing is crisper, the conductor's clinical tendencies tempered by an understanding that emotional extremism is an essential part of Mahler's idiom even if it need not be indulged. Determined to avoid histrionics, Vanska often gives the music as much space and focus as Leonard Bernstein. …

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