Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Great sound, but tempos lag...
orchestral21201 | Baltimore, MD | 10/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This recording has the excellent Philips label fidelity, but Haitink's conducting style here reminds me alot of a number of the old Otto Klemperer recordings, where Klemperer seemed, by comparison with other performances, to have set the record for the slowest tempos. Haitink's conducting is not quite like this, but close. It is as if he slows down passages just to savor the richness of the moment. But what seems to have happened is that he doesn't come across any "moments" he doesn't like, which results in the whole performance seeming to drag along. If you are fond of Haitink's style of interpretation, or that of Klemperer for that matter, you will probably like this performance. I personally prefer performances with brisker tempos overall."
A very intense, slow Mahler Fifth -- one of a kind
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 05/19/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Haitink almost completed a Mahler cycle with the Berlin Phil. in the Eighties, leaving out only Sym. 8 and 9. The reviews were respectful and sometimes better than that, but the recordings feel through the cracks. Even if you restrict yourself to Mahler fifths from Berlin, there is Karajan and Abbado to contend with. As a rival, Haitink gets just as good playing and very fine sound from Philips. The drawback, so the critical consensus goes, is that he was temperamentally a mismatch with Mahler's volatile changes of mood.
This Fifth was also considered too slow. Here are some relative timings:
Mvt 1 12'36 13'33
Mvt 2 14'46 15'47
Mvt 3 17'26 19'17
Mvt 4 9'01 13'55
Mvt 5 15'40 15'34
As you can see, it's the middle three movements where Haitink makes his broad pacing strongly felt. Is it fair to glorify Klemperer and Celibidache for their slow tempos but dismiss Haitink for his? Certainly there are few lapses of intensity. If anything, the relentless power of the music becomes overwhelming when sustained by the superhuman Berliners -- I sympathize with the Gramophone reviewer who said that he was exhausted by the end rather than exhilarated. One does come away with a bone-crunching sensation.
there's no reason to call tis a wrong approach. the absence of lighter moments offers little relief, but rest assured that Haitink is the opposite of bland or boring. It's strange to find him exceeding Bernstein in draining emotionality, however. At the cheap price of this CD on the used market, it's worth a listen if you want the Mahler Fifth captured in a new light.