MAHLER:  Symphony No. 5 in C# Minor
Netherlands Philharmonic Orch/Hartmut Haenchen, cond.
PENTATONE PTC 5186 004 TT:  68:27 (5 channel)
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Recorded live during a concert in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in March 2001 before a remarkably silent audience, this is a performance of Mahler's Fifth that does not challenge versions by Bernstein, Abbado, Chailly, Haitink or many other conductors; it does have a refreshing Adagietto that times in at 8:54, a few minutes faster than most of the others although still more leisurely than Mengelberg's pioneering 1926 recording which takes but 7:06.  Haenchen  (b. 1943) has never made the major ranks of conductors; he is represented in the CD catalog by recordings of Brahms, Bruckner (Symphony No. 3), Liszt (Dante Symphony) and Mahler (Symphony No. 6), issued on the budget Laserlight label, and by many recordings of music of C.P.E. Bach.  He is very active on Holland's music scene as conductor of the Netherlands Opera, the Netherlands Philharmonic and Netherlands Chamber Orchestra.  The multi-channel recording is rather disappointing, quite distant, overly-resonant and bass heavy; Pentatone has some magnificent multi-channel SACDs; this, unfortunately, is not one of them. 

SCHMIDT:  Symphony No. 4 in C. Excerpts from Notre Dame
Netherlands Philharmonic Orch/Yakov Kreizberg, cond.
PENTATONE PTC 5186 015 TT:  60:25 (5 channel)
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This fine performances holds up admirably to recordings of the symphony by Neemi J”rvi and Zubin Mehta—Kreizberg is one of the finest of today's younger conductors. He fully understands the nature of Schmidt's masterpiece which reflects the composer's tragic life. Gustav Mahler had a personal animosity for Schmidt and did what he could to diminish the young cellist and composer.  Schmidt's wife was in a mental institution and their daughter died when only ten. The subtitle of the 45-minute symphony is "Requiem for my daughter." It opens with a rather sad trumpet melody, a 'final salute' as it were, repeated towards the end as well, and includes a powerful funeral march with a sense of tragedy and sonorities reminiscent of Parsifal. The suite from the opera Notre Dame is also well-played with appropriately rich strings in the sensuous Intermezzo.This recording was made in the Yakult Hall of the "Beurs van Berlage" in Amsterdam, Aug. 29-30, 2002.The engineers have provided a big, rather distant pickup, a touch heavy and undefined on the bass end, with rear channels providing ambient sound.

R.E.B. (Next Surround Review)