Gustav Mahler - Symphony No. 4

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This is the recording of the Mahler 4 that I've been waiting to hear all my life. I expected it to show up earlier, from one of the great Mahler conductors like Bernstein, Haitink, Abbado...leading world class orchestras like Berlin, Chicago, London, etc...but such a definitive interpretation never saw the light of day until now. Ivan Fischer's previous recording of Mahler's 2nd Symphony, was presented with a few well deserved awards, and you will find it listed on this site on the Award Winners page. I am convinced this recording of the 4th will attract the same accolades, if not more.

This wonderful work has often been considered na´ve, simple, even considered a step back in Mahler's symphonic development, following his own previous bold and massive symphonies 2 & 3. This symphony does express the innocence of childhood, its dreams, its freedom, its pure vision and concept of heaven not clouded by doubts. But if it is true that all music written by Mahler was autobiographical, then we must also consider that it is in childhood that we develop our deepest fears, our idiosyncrasies, our sometimes malevolent behavior, etc...and Mahler's own adulthood angst is never far below the sunny surface of this misunderstood work.

Ivan Fischer's interpretation goes a long way in presenting both sides of the coin and bringing out the myriad of small instrumental and expressive details that confirm this work's purpose. His pacing, nuances, moments of deep expression are all expertly judged and true to the spirit of the work. The Adagio in particular, which Mahler himself considered to be his best slow movement, flows along with that magical childhood sense of having all the time in the world to reach our destination. And when he does reach the end, the sudden opening of heaven's gates, the glorious vision of paradise, has never been portrayed with such an intense light and powerful blaze of sound.

The recorded sound is superb, with each and every instrument clear and precise in their individual solos and as a group, all captured in truly natural acoustics.

Jean-Yves Duperron