Mahler: Symphony No 5 in C sharp minor

Reviewed on Mon 16 Oct, 2017

For readers coming fresh to the composition, this is a performance of clarity and precision. Everyone must have worked hard, and Vänskä's conception projects Mahler's music with great strength.

Osmo Vänskä leads his exuberant Minnesota band in a stimulating, superbly played account of Mahler's darkness-to-joyfulness symphony. For readers coming fresh to the composition, this is a performance of clarity and precision. Everyone must have worked hard, and Vänskä's conception projects Mahler's music with great strength. At the same time, there are plenty of subtle touches to relish, not least some delicate little crescendos and decrescendos. In the big central scherzo Vänskä addresses Mahler's concern that it might be taken too fast. Consequently, the music has more of the appropriate Viennese charm. Some more experienced listeners might jib at the slowness of the famous Adagietto. It's beautifully played, and it seems that the composer might have expected a swifter tempo, which can be achieved without hurry. Nevertheless, it is a form of love-letter to the composer's wife – and love-making varies with temperament. Vänskä makes good sense of the finale, and while I'd have preferred less sense of rush at the last, his admirable orchestra exhibits great verve and enormous care throughout.
–Ivor Solomons