Mariss Jansons / Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Mahler: Symphonie Nr. 5

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Mariss Jansons' second recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor is in many ways an improvement on his first effort, a 2008 release with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on its RCO Live label that had its share of flaws. This 2016 live performance with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra on BR Klassik is tighter and cleaner, with more accurate playing and more vivid sound, which is surprising because this standard CD offers richer and deeper sound than RCO Live's hybrid SACD. Jansons seems to have grown with this symphony, and his handling of the music is more confident and similar to other mainstream performances in feeling and overall pacing. Two problems that were noticeable in the earlier recording persist here: Jansons still uses rubato to an excessive degree, and his occasional humming along with the music is a bit of a distraction, so listeners who were bothered by these issues previously may be disappointed to find them here. However, the performance overall is solid, the climaxes are impressive, and the orchestra is at its best in the exuberant Finale, which is crisply played to emphasize the astonishing counterpoint. With the large number of recordings of the Fifth available, this recording faces considerable competition, though Jansons has demonstrated staying power with Mahler, and his fans will be happy to follow where he leads.

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