James DePreist

Mahler: Symphony No. 5

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While James DePreist's reading with the London Symphony Orchestra of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor is possibly serviceable for the casual listener, it probably won't satisfy the more discerning ears of Mahler fans. There are several problems one could nitpick over, such as the unacceptably weak ending of the "Trauermarsch"; the comical, push-me-pull-you tempi in the "Stürmisch Bewegt"; the conversion of the boisterous Scherzo into a sluggish Landler; and the strangely cool and chaste Adagietto. Only the Rondo-Finale is reasonably free of things to quibble about, but it comes too late in the work to make much of a difference. Still, above all, the most troubling aspect of this 2006 release is the lackluster interpretation and the clinical feeling of the performance. One could attribute it to the late-comer DePreist's inexperience in recording Mahler's music, or to his greater concern for highlighting details in the score than in communicating the composer's passionate expressions. Or perhaps the orchestra's response to DePreist was more coolly professional than warmly collegial. Yet whatever prevented this from being a great performance, it is a shame that it is so un-Viennese in style, uninspired in feeling, and un-Mahlerian in vision. It seems slick, polished, and mostly note-perfect, but it lacks the dark brooding, the manic intensity, and the blazing triumph that all great performances of this work have, and to which all contenders must aspire. Alas, this is not a satisfying listening experience, and this disc is perhaps best suited for reference purposes.

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