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Reviews: Mahler: Symphony No. 5 - Netherlands PO/Haenchen

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Reviews: 5

Review by vonwegen December 27, 2003 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I'd just like to confirm what nucaleena said--and add that the surround mix is indeed superb. Very nice dynamics, and a lovely variation in tempo that never drags or goes too fast.

I also have to agree that the cover art is not wonderful. It would have been soooo easy to snap and include a few photos of that OTHER great city of canals--Amsterdam, instead of repeating the "Death In Venice" cliche ad nauseum.

Still, I can confidently recommend this disk.

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Review by Chris March 13, 2004 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I'd like to add my support to the two other reviews here of this disc.
The Performance is not quite the equal of Karajan's Berliners or Bernstein's Vienna Philarmonic recordings, both on DG.
But the recording is so natural and so realistic that it makes it difficult even to listen to the
harsh and synthetic PCM sound on the Bernstein disc, ever again.
I've got both Karajan's and Solti's Mahler 5 on LP, and they both sound good. The Solti one, in fact ,actually still sounds stunningly good for it's age(typical mid sixties, DECCA sound).But neither of them sounds as pure and clean and simply miked as this pure DSD SACD from Pentatone.There is is no evidence of unnatural spotmiking. When heard in stereo both groups and invidual instruments
are heard from their proper place ,playing in the wondeful acoustic of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. A good example indeed,of how realistic SACDs can sound in stereo if both recorded and mastered straight from DSD.
I have listened to this recording on several different SACD players.But always via my mow trusted reference Sennheiser HD 650 headphones and the Musical Fidelity X-Can V3 tubed headphone amp.
A combo which lets me hear what's actually been recorded, without the limiting factors of room and speakers.

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Review by Oscar August 29, 2005 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Gustav Mahler scores his symphonies for very big orchestras. But his orchestral writing is, in essence the contrast of timbres of the various groups within the orchestra. And this is why conducting Mahler is not easy: a good ear for balances is a must. This, which sound obvious is not quite so obvious. And then, of course comes the interpretation, which is another matter altogether.

The present recording scores high in sound: all the instruments in their natural perspectives. NO highlighting and no imbalances (which marr so many of the DGG recordings, for example). Haenchen is a good conductor that has an acute ear for sonic balances of the orchestra. But the instrument at his command here, the Netherlands PO is a good orchestra but not much more. And interpretation wise, I found the performance fluctuates without having a firm grip on a clear view of where the conductor wants the music to go.

Despite this reservations, and enjoyable disc, specially because of the spectacular sonics.

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Review by nickc September 30, 2005 (5 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Generally excellent performance somewhat bedevilled by an implausibly wide dynamic range.
"What" I hear you say, "this is how an orchestra sounds in a real concert hall!" I agree in a sense, except we have my old bugbear of being somewhere out the back of the hall, just like with the Hough Hyperion Rachmaninov Piano Concertos.
Turn this disc to a level that allows you to hear the violins properly and the brass will take out your (and maybe your neighbours) walls. At my normal listening level (-15 on a Marantz SR7300 receiver, which is reasonably loud!) I can hardly hear the violins at all and the first movement risks sounding like a concerto for brass with violin obbligato.
When I turned the volume up to -10 (or even -8) the sound per se was smooth as silk but I had to keep the remote in hand in case my house started shuddering when the next fortissimo arrived.
For those interested in the great adagio debate the speed is under 9 minutes , just a touch fast for me - though better than Tennstedt's 11+ wallow on EMI.
Recommended for those who like real concert hall ambiences, but I prefer the balance accorded to Ashkenazy in his classic early 80s Rachmaninov performances by Decca.

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Review by Luukas October 29, 2014 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Wow! After Michael Tilson Thomas' (Avie) and Frank Shipway's (Membran) recordings this ranks my top 3 list. PentaTone's recording is outstanding - specially on multi-channel - and it captures The Concertgebouw's surrounding acoustic very well.

Helmut Haenchen isn't perhaps the best Mahler-conductor, but his interpretation is moving and thrilling and Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra answers their conductor's throughs brilliantly. The opening funeral march (12'26") sounds powerful, but sometimes it is hurry. Second movement (14'40") is better, and Haenchen reaches its heavy climaxes. Scherzo (17'07") is lovely, but too slow, it isn't very moving. Still you can feel bass drum's tremolos on your skin - watch out your subwoofer! The beautiful Adagietto (8'54) sounds lonely and sexy, and I really like it. It is like first lovers happy meeting in long time. Finale (14'46") is exciting listening experience, and I'd liked to join the audience's wild applause after the last chords.

If you looking for excellent performance with superb sonics, this disc is for you. There have been many effectively performances, but this is the true jewel. Highly recommend, absolutely!

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