Zander’s recording of Mahler 5 comes with a second, free 78-minute CD on which the conductor gives an illuminating analysis of the symphony and how it works in structure and detail. This is fascinating stuff, and even those who know the music well can learn from it. But it is the performance itself that places the set in the highest rank of Mahler recordings. Zander understands Mahler in practice as well as theory – his agonies, his heroics, his ironies, his many-layered textures, his ebb and flow – as few do, and in the Philharmonia he has an orchestra that rises to the huge challenge of the Fifth, and the conductor’s exalted concept of it with superb skill and zest. The result is exhilarating and often, as in the second movements’s climax and tragic collapse, overwhelming.
Click here to listen to Mahler’s Symphony no. 5.