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Dip Your Ears, No. 249 (Cologne Mahler Cycle, Take Two)

available at Amazon
Gustav Mahler, Symphony No.5,
Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne / F.X.Roth
(Harmonia Mundi)

Ten years ago, the Cologne’s Gürzenich Orchestra released a recording of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony with their then-Music Director Markus Stenz. It turned out to be an excellent new recording (of a whole cycle) by the orchestra that premiered that Symphony in 1904. Now the same orchestra has recorded it again with their new music director François-Xavier Roth, also beginning a new Mahler cycle. Again the result is excellent. Interestingly enough it is Roth, who often flirts with period performance, who delivers the more slightly more conventional, slower reading. Most notably in the Adagietto where Stenz takes under nine minutes; Roth two minutes longer. But the transparency is top-notch; there is a pleasant and elegant lightness to the playing: The scoring never feels thick (nor anemic). Of course there are a good number other fine recordings of this symphony available, too. But if you have any inclination or rationalization to try this new cycle-in-the-making, there’s no reason not to start here.


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