Universal Music Group has gone back to the original master tapes to deliver fully uncompressed, high-resolution versions of many of your favorite albums on Blu-ray Pure Audio Disc. Mastered at 24bit/96kHz, Blu-ray Pure Audio Discs deliver the sound the artists originally heard in the studio when these classic albums were recorded. These discs provide all the recorded musical information. While convenient due to their small file size, today’s heavily compressed music files do not represent the true fidelity of the original album.
• Recordings are transferred from the original master tapes and delivered in high-resolution 24-bit/96kHz audio
• No compression is utilized, and the sound quality is vastly superior to MP3 or standard CD
• Three separate choices of audio file format for playback: PCM 2.0, Dolby True HD, or DTS-HD Master Audio (5.1 available where noted)
• Your preferred audio format is chosen either by pressing the "Audio" button on your Blu-ray remote or via your onscreen menu display
Love him or hate him, Herbert von Karajan understood that recordings meant something. He preceded this one with two years (!) of rehearsals and worked on it over no less than seven sessions. Even then, it’s not quite perfect. There’s the missing tam-tam crash at the climax of the second movement, but for that you can always choose Plan B: Levine (RCA). Other really fine versions worth considering include Barenboim (Teldec, a nice surprise), the quirky Barbirolli (EMI), and the superb second Bernstein (also DG). All things considered, though, this remains an amazing performance of Mahler’s most difficult symphony, the one that has attracted more lousy performances on disc than any other–and believe me, I’ve heard all of them.
This is a work that plays to Karajan’s strengths. Primarily, it demands supreme virtuosity from the orchestral strings and brass. Karajan and his Berliners are in their element here. It almost goes without saying that this version of the Adagietto is the most gorgeous in the catalog, and anyone who thinks that the period instrument no-vibrato crazies have a case after hearing this should have their heads examined. But it’s not just in lyrical passages where this performance excels; there’s the physical surge with which Karajan launches the second movement, his perfect choice of tempo for the opening funeral march, the noble trumpet tone he gets from Berlin’s principal player, and the inimitable opening of the scherzo (sample below), like the popping of champagne cork. It’s just the perfect sound at that moment.
Best of all, Karajan offers one of the most cogent and contrapuntally dazzling accounts of the finale yet conceived, and unlike so much of the competition he absolutely nails the closing chorale, effortlessly. Actually Karajan’s Mahler, weird though some of it undoubtedly was (the Sixth especially), also brought out some of his very best work. It is very gratifying to see a performer treating this music with the care and caution it deserves, particularly when the results turn out to be nothing less than stellar. This many not be your only Fifth, but it must be one of them. --ClassicsToday.com
Symphony No.5 in C sharp minor
1. Trauermarsch (In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt - Plötzlich schneller. Leidenschaftlich. Wild - Tempo I) 13:07
2. Stürmisch bewegt. Mit größter Vehemenz - Bedeutend langsamer - Tempo I subito 15:12
3. Scherzo (Kräftig, nicht zu schnell) 18:10
4. Adagietto (Sehr langsam) 11:53
5. Rondo-Finale (Allegro) 15:25