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Mahler's Fifth Symphony is a consistent crowd-pleaser with its powerful opening funeral march and its soulful Adagietto, originally a musical love letter to the composer's wife. Leonard Bernstein had a special affinity for Mahler, perhaps because he too was torn between his talents for conducting and composing. His '60s recordings almost single-handedly rescued Mahler's then declining reputation, but the live recordings with Mahler's own Vienna Philharmonic in the final years of Bernstein's life will stand as his legacy. It is hard to imagine a more emotionally satisfying reading of the Fifth in particular, by turns desperately anxious and ecstatically jubilant.

Customer Reviews

Fantastic recording of a fantastic piece

Mahler's 5th symphony has, in recent years, become my favorite symphony. Not only is it an absolute joy to listen to, it's incredibly inspiring to anyone who has ever considered composing. I listen to it and can't help but think, "If I'd only thought to write that!" It's an absolutely incredible piece, and this is the very best recording I've found so far of this piece. Balance is just great, the strings are lush and the brass, when asked to play loud, really pull out all the stops and will knock your socks off! If you're looking for a great symphony, look no further, and this is the best recording you'll find of this wonderful masterpiece.

Definitive by all standards.

There is a lot that I can say about Mahler's fifth. To me, it is one of the greatest symphonies ever composed. It covers the greatest emotional range of any of his symphonies. As Maestro Karajan once said, "When the fifth is over, you have forgotten how old you were when it began". This recording is nothing short of the best recording of this symphony. Deutsche Grammophon's wonderful sound quality proves that this recording has the best sound, new or old. Bernstein storms the highest volumes in the symphony and the lows as well, and gets the details and emotions like no other conductor. This was a live recording (they edited out the applause), and it shows: there is more drama involved and the audience adds a sense of perspective to the piece. A little longer way of saying this would be: Movement I: The opening trumpet call is a mighty crescendo, showing the dynamic ranges that Bernstein will achieve later. Bernstein doesn't let too much emotion overcloud this movement, and the Vienna Philharmonik plays flawlessly. Movement II: Great, as expected. Here Bernstein throws caution to the wind and really attacks this movement. It's violent, and absolutely brilliant. This is one of Mahler's more complex movements, and Bernstein's interpretation is short of none. Movement III: Wow. Bernstein allows every phrase to breathe and this interpretation does suit the movement. The only person to attempt a similar interpretation of this movement was Barbiolli, but Bernstein was gifted with the better orchestra. The Adagietto: Every phrase breathes. It's a little slower than most, but still not too slow. I've never heard a better adagietto, and this one is the one that will make the listener really cry. Movement V: A final battle to the conclusion. This one biggest of all, where Bernstein tackles the piece, and the symphony ends in its powerful ending. In short, if you buy this version, your mouth will drop to the floor.


Precise and deep performance by the Vienna Philharmonic coupled with the greatest Mahler interpreter since Mahler himself - Bernstein. This performance will rent and shake you to the core. Sorrow, joy, power, sweetness, exuberance, tragedy, death, life, and beauty all mesh in a symphony for the ages. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard this symphony.


Born: August 25, 1918 in Lawrence, MA

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

No figure in 20th century American classical music had as prominent or controversial a career -- or did more to sell classical music to the general public as something genuinely exciting, and worth getting into a sweat over -- than Leonard Bernstein. For more than 30 years, from his assumption of the post of Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in 1958 until the final concerts that he conducted in obviously failing health near the end of his life in 1990, he was the most prominent and widely...
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Mahler: Symphony No. 5, Leonard Bernstein
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  • $10.99
  • Genres: Classical, Music
  • Released: Jan 01, 1988

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