Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor
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Recorded live in 2014, Myung-Whun Chung's performance of Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor" with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra is perhaps most notable for its sense of spontaneity. While the tempos and pacing fall in line with most interpretations of this symphony, Chung's approach allows for flexibility in the counterpoint, so the players have a certain freedom of movement and their nuanced rhythms give the music natural expression and deeper dimensions. This sorts well with Mahler's characteristic treatment of solo instruments in chamber-like combinations, and Chung emphasizes the subtle effects that are sometimes lost in more sweeping, broad-brushed readings. The Seoul Philharmonic has been recognized as a rising orchestra under Chung's direction, and this recording is comparable to their masterful reading of Mahler's "Symphony No. 9," released early in 2015. The intensity of emotions, vividness of sonorities, and careful attention to details combine to make a compelling reading, and even though this symphony may be quite familiar to listeners, this performance reveals many points in the score that will seem new to jaded ears. This extraordinary Deutsche Grammophon release is highly recommended.