Barenboim conducts Mahler 5th
I own this DVD, and I watch it often. The whole production is really well done. That includes the video aspects which could only be accomplished if the person in charge of the video had a score in front of him/her. Whenever the music featured a specific section or player, there was a close-up to take the viewer directly there. The Principal Trumpet got a lot of attention; after all, this symphony begins with his extensive solo. What great music interpretation he showed us, and Maestro Barenboim rewarded him with a flower at the end of the concert.
The performance is very satisfying. We hear the extensive range of emotion, color, mood, and content that Mahler put into this masterpiece. My sense is that the Brass and woodwind sections performed their challenging parts in a flawless, musical way with great interpretive excellence. While the strings were good, if you watch carefully, the camera shows us a few violin players who do not seem to be fully engaged. They are either tired, or simply not fully committed to their work. At one point, one can see Barenboim angrily looking at one of the first violin players whose playing is clearly not making Barenboim very happy.
For me the slow movement (Adagietto) is the high point of the performance: the over all hush of this movement is legendary. And the Chicago players, particularly the prominent role for the Harp, are really playing with great sensitivity and phrasing. All in all, this is a wonderful performance that I return to very often.