Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mahler - Symphony No. 5 (1988)


Lorin Maazel conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.

This symphony, composed during the summers of 1901 and 1902, is a little bombastic overall and starts off with a funeral march.  Not really my thing; I prefer Mahler's 1st, 7th, and 9th symphonies to this work.  However, the serene 4th movement of this symphony, the Adagietto, is the most beautiful 10 minutes of music that the composer wrote. It may also be his most famous.  It is often extracted from the symphony and performed by itself.

I don't pretend to understand this symphony very well, but with the exception of the fourth movement (scored for harp and strings alone), I'm not a big fan of the interpretation here.  The strings are fine, but the winds are a more aggressive than they need to be.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of bold brass playing, I just don't care for playing this abrasive.  There's also some weird things going on with the phrasing. I might have been better off reading what the critics had to say about this interpretation and based my purchase on that information instead of simply buying the first disc I could find.

Tracks: In addition to the Adagietto, I also enjoy the counterpoint of the fifth movement.  I couldn't find this particular version of the Adagietto on YouTube, so here's Barenboim conducting the CSO.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Sometime in the '90s, I saw a dance company perform a beautiful duet to the 4th movement.  That was my introduction to this work and led me to get this CD.

About 5 years after purchasing this CD, I discovered that a coworker listened to this every Sunday as part of his morning routine.  It's an interesting choice, for sure, but he could do a lot worse.  Now that he has little children, I wonder if his routine is still the same.  I would doubt it.

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