HD-Vinyl 24/96 (DGG) Gustav Mahler – Symphony No.5 (Bernstein)

Mahler’s Fifth was one of the pieces Leonard Bernstein owned. This interpretation is broader than the one he recorded with the New York Philharmonic in the early 1960s, but it’s little changed in feeling. It is, however, far more polished and a good deal more persuasive. The recording, like all of Bernstein’s later Mahler cycle, was made live; here, he and the Vienna Philharmonic give a gripping performance full of telling nuance, intensely expressive yet thoroughly controlled. It’s a reading both Dionysiac and “Bachic”–as in J. S. Bach, not Bacchus–one in which the impetuous energy of the score is transmitted to the fullest degree, but not at the expense of the extraordinary (for Mahler) contrapuntal detail. Most remarkable of all, perhaps, is Bernstein’s sureness of touch, his ability to realize the many little expressive gestures that no longer merely draw attention to themselves the way they used to, but add up to something miraculous. The Philharmonic players, with him all the way, contribute many wonderful touches, especially the strings. The recording, made not in Vienna but in Frankfurt’s Alte Oper, is solid and has remarkable impact. While the bass is a bit diffuse and the sound stage not the clearest, the image is reasonably detailed and well balanced, the atmosphere good. –Ted Libbey.

# Composer: Gustav Mahler
# Orchestra: Vienna Philarmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
# Vinyl (1988)
# Number of Discs: 1
# Format: Flac
# Label: DGG
# DR-Analysis: DR 15
Size: 1.48 GB
# Scan: yes
# Server: Fi

This recording of the 5th is undoubtedly the most true to Mahler’s score and intention, especially in the case of the “Adagietto”. It is wonderfully presented here. What puzzles me is the complete and utter misconception about the tempo of this beautiful movement. Most seem to think “Adagietto” means “a bit faster than Adagio”, when in reality the title has NOTHING to do with tempo. In Italian, it simply means “little adagio”, which refers to the small scale/length of the movement. If you want to know the tempo of this movement, look no further than the score where it is clearly marked – Sehr langsam (very slow). How on earth would any competent conductor take this marking, made by Mahler, to mean anything other than “very slow”? Did Mahler make a mistake? Did Mahler not understand the meaning of Sehr langsam? It seems that many do not trust Mahler to mark his own tempos – which is odd, because Gustav Mahler was the epitome of precise and in-depth markings. On top of it all, the second measure (where the 1st violins enter) is marked “molto rit, espressivo” (slow up alot, expressively). So not only are you “very slow” to begin with, but you get even slower in just the 2nd measure. There are other passages in which every single note has a tenuto (accent). How can you play these notes and passages effectively if you are trampling them in a nice Andante (like the Zander recording)? If you take the time to look for all the cues Mahler is giving you, and have a real sense of Mahler and his compositions, there is no way to speed up this beautiful little Adagio.

To people who says “…the early tradition of interpretations indicate that a swift take is what Mahler probably had in mind, despite the ‘sehr langsam’…”, I can give you a direct quote from Mahler himself on musical tradition – “Tradition ist Schlamperei” (tradition is sloppiness). Take Mahler for what the score says.

So why do conductors, some of them very famous, take the tempo so fast? Because they are trying to set their “interpretations” apart from the rest. If you want to hear Mahler 5 performed as he intended, this is the recording for you. If you want to hear a conductor pushing his own agenda onto the music, buy another (and yes, this is the exact opposite of what you usually hear about a Bernstein recording – for those who see the irony, no further explanation is needed).


  Part I
A1 Trauermarsch. In Gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie Ein Kondukt 14:30
A2 Stuermisch Bewegt. Mit Groesster Vehemenz 14:57
  Part II
A3 Scherzo(Part I). Kraeftig, Nicht Zu Schnell 7:21
B1 Scherzo (Part II), Molto Moderato (Ziff. 11) 11:42
  Part III
B2 Adagietto. Sehr Langsam 11:12
B3 Rondo-Finale. Allegro – Allegro Giocoso. Frisch 15:01

Analyzed folder: /96k Mahler – Symphony No. 6 – Bernstein
DR        Peak        RMS        Filename
DR15        -1.71 dB     -23.22 dB     A1 Trauermarsch. In Gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie Ein Kondukt.aif
DR13        -2.32 dB     -20.66 dB     A2 Stuermisch Bewegt. Mit Groesster Vehemenz.aif
DR17        -2.81 dB     -25.32 dB     A3 Scherzo(Part I). Kraeftig, Nicht Zu Schnell.aif
DR15        -2.29 dB     -22.51 dB     B1 Scherzo (Part II), Molto Moderato (Ziff. 11).aif
DR14        -7.62 dB     -29.01 dB     B2 Adagietto. Sehr Langsam.aif
DR14        -1.76 dB     -21.23 dB     B3 Rondo-Finale. Allegro – Allegro Giocoso. Frisch.aif
Number of files:    6
Official DR value:    DR14


  • Composed By – Gustav Mahler
  • Conductor – Leonard Bernstein
  • Engineer [Balance] – Karl-August Naegler
  • Engineer [Balance], Edited By – Helmut Burk
  • Horn – Friedrich Pfeiffer
  • Illustration [Cover “Chant D’automne”] – Erté
  • Orchestra – Wiener Philharmoniker
  • Photography By – Arthur Umboh
  • Producer – Hanno Rinke
Recorded live in Frankfurt am Main, Alte Oper, 9/1987.

Ripping Info


If You hear some clicks and pops here and there, Who cares?
Id rather have a few light anomalies instead of destroying the music.
Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops.
I tend more and more, in the last time, to de-click with an automatic setting between 0.7 and 1.2 so you can say, my rips are like half rough rips.

  • Software: iZotope RX 4 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Very light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no de-noising
  • DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
  • Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5

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