Osmo Vänskä / Minnesota Orchestra

Mahler 5

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Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor is a staple of the concert repertoire, and most conductors can count at least one recording of this popular work in their discographies. However, Osmo Vänskä's 2017 recording of the Fifth is significant because it's his first recording of Mahler's music since his 1994 release of Das Lied von der Erde, and it marks the beginning of a complete Mahler symphony cycle for BIS in the hybrid SACD format. Vänskä's feeling for Mahler is profound and utterly convincing, and his focused attention to details makes this an exceptional performance that promises great things to come. The Minnesota Orchestra plays with utter transparency and clear separation of parts, and Vänskä draws out the inner lines and unusual instrumental effects with care, meticulously observing Mahler's dynamics and articulation marks along the way. Yet the symphony's trajectory is unimpeded by this close concentration on particulars, and Vänskä maintains the music's suspense and energy throughout, shaping the work's trajectory with the expressive arc ever in mind. BIS provides terrific multichannel sound, which is as impressive in the softest passages of the Adagietto as it is in the loudest climaxes in the Rondo-Finale. Highly recommended, especially for Mahler fans seeking a fresh take on this post-Romantic masterpiece.

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