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Album Review: Mahler Symphony No 5, Berlin PO, Claudio Abbado

Album Review: Mahler Symphony No 5, Berlin PO, Claudio Abbado

When Deutsche Grammophon launched Claudio Abbado’s Berlin recording of Mahler’s fifth symphony on CD in 1993, the notion that – in 30 or so years time – DG would concern it on LP would have appeared absurd; inconceivable; stark staring bonkers.

Abbado’s Mahler 5 was one in all DG’s first 4D recordings. Taken from stay performances given within the Berlin Philharmonie, it’s a robust refined account with clean, open, pure sound, and an enormously-wide dynamic vary. A to D converters had been used near the microphones to be able to digitise alerts as quickly as attainable. 

The efficiency lasts a shade underneath 70m and for vinyl it’s unfold over 4 LP sides. Previous vinyl points almost at all times put Mahler 5 on three sides. This meant having the primary two actions on aspect one, leading to a reasonably lengthy taking part in time across the 27m to 29m mark.

Abbado takes just a little over 27m for the primary two actions, however with every on a single LP aspect there’s no downside for the disc mastering engineer having to attempt to reduce an extended aspect whereas sustaining a reasonably excessive quantity degree. However, reducing ranges usually are not particularly excessive. They may simply have been raised 3dB or extra. I need to see good deep squiggly grooves! 

Fortunately, the surfaces on DG’s new pressings are super-quiet. Vinyl roar and floor ticks and pops are very low, so you’ll be able to enhance quantity ranges and never hear any background noise. My pressings had been very clear and quiet, although aspect three was a wee bit ‘swishy’ in locations – hopefully a fault restricted to my specific set. 

Comparing Abbado’s Mahler 5 LPs with Karajan’s (launched in 1975), the older set is reduce on the identical peak degree however subjectively the sound has extra immediacy and heft. That stated Karajan’s climaxes generally really feel barely compressed – maybe resulting from analogue tape squash.

On my tools, Abbado’s clean sweet-sounding recording has much less immediacy than Karajan’s, which is sharper and more-focused. Tonally, DG’s greatest 4D recordings sounded very pure and open with no pretend digital brightness or glare, however may generally sound nearly too impartial.

It feels like Abbado’s Tonmeister Gernot von Schultzendorff used a easy microphone approach. The 4D course of allowed time-delay, enabling shut and distantly-placed microphones to integrate-better and create phase-coherent outcomes. So maybe that’s why any spot-mics used are so discreet.

From a stability and perspective standpoint, there’s no query that Abbado’s Berlin Mahler 5 is way much less ‘stage managed’ than lots of DG’s recordings from the earlier 15 years or so. You sense the sound captured is simply because it occurred, stay within the corridor.

The Philharmonie in Berlin is an uncommon corridor, putting the orchestra within the centre of the auditorium fairly than an enclosed area close to a rear wall. Abbado’s efficiency was recorded in entrance of an viewers (with applause on the finish), so this is able to have damped the sound considerably. 

Abbado’s Mahler 5 is sumptuously performed – smooth, highly effective, trenchant, with beautiful element. It’s a refined subtle virtuoso rendition. Surprisingly, Karajan is much less polished, however extra passionate, throwing warning to the wind for the joy of the second. His Adagietto is to die for. 

Both are superlative readings, and stand excessive among the many greatest Mahler 5s. But does being on vinyl add something additional to the Abbado/Berlin set over CD/SACD? I’m unsure it does. Abbado’s vinyl sounds good, however the SACD showcases the unique recording with far better constancy.

Abbado’s vinyl doesn’t fairly provide you with that additional sense of holographic-dimensionality and spacious-richness that’s there with DG’s Kubelik and Karajan Mahler 5 LPs. It’s good, however would have sounded much-more vivid if reducing ranges had been just a few dB greater… 

 

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February 13, 2024 at 07:40PM

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