GUSTAV MAHLER - Symphony No. 5

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GUSTAV MAHLER - Symphony No. 5 - Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne - François-Xavier Roth (Conductor) - 3149020528525 - Released: December 2017 - Harmonia Mundi HMM905285

On October 18th, 1904, Gustav Mahler himself conducted the première performance of his Symphony No. 5 in C sharp Minor with this orchestra. A time machine would be great to have just about now. Needless to say that the Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne has maintained a long and distinguished relationship and shared a common lineage with the music of Gustav Mahler from then on, and this affinity stands out in this new recording. Add to the mix the fact that their newly appointed General Music Director, French conductor François-Xavier Roth, the son of the famous organist Daniel Roth, is considered one of the most enterprising and receptive conductors of his generation, and it quickly becomes obvious as to why this is an account worth hearing.

This reading is much in the same spirit as the Ivan Fischer/Budapest Festival Orchestra interpretation, where the dramatic weight of a Bernstein analysis is replaced by a loftier insight that sheds more light on the inner workings of the orchestral counterpoint and accentuates the positive aspects of this great symphony. The final movement in particular is a perfect example of just that and François-Xavier Roth projects the ending like that of a man walking chin up, bravely into the unknown. The whole symphony is characterized by lighter textures, a more buoyant momentum, and brighter expressive details. All of which benefits from yet another well-engineered Harmonia Mundi recording.

Jean-Yves Duperron - December 2017