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Mahler: Symphony No. 4 [Hybrid SACD]

Gustav Mahler , Ivan Fischer , Budapest Festival Orchestra , Miah Persson Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 24.04 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. Symphony No.4 In G: I. Heiter, Bedachtig. Nicht Eilen
2. Symphony No.4 In G: II. In Gemachlicher Bewegung. Ohne Hast
3. Symphony No.4 In G: III. Ruhevoll
4. Symphony No.4 In G: IV. Sehr Behaglich

Product Description

Product Description

Ivan Fischer writes of Mahler's masterpiece, "There is a unique purity and transparency in Mahler's 4th Symphony. The enchanting sleigh bells take us to his inner child, to his dreams of angels, fairy tales, angst and pure, divine love. This child-like symphony needed a different orchestra: no dark tuba, no heavy trombones, no large arsenal of massive brass. A chamber orchestra in fact, where the clarinets act as mock trumpets, the solo violin tunes his strings sharper in order to scare us and the lightness of the whole orchestra lifts us up to his lovely, childish vision of paradise."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best 4 I've ever heard April 14 2009
By William Dodd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I don't pretend to be able to write as professional a review as some, but I do want to share my feelings about this one. I have 9 other Mahler 4's, and I've traded back many more. I'm familiar with the perforamnces usually referred to as the best. This one, for me, puts all others in the shade. The performance, the soloist, the recording itself--- this is what it's all about.

Fischer has a way of making works come alive for me. His Rachmaninoff 2 made me finally appreciate a symphony I always felt was a bit schmaltzy. His Mahler 6 made me finally understand a work that had left me cold.

I can't comment on whether or not he follows Mahler's requests, I don't have the score. But it just sounds..."right". And the multi-channel SACD layer is the most realistic orchestral recording I've ever heard.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Stuff of Dreams Nov. 30 2009
By Eric J. Matluck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I first discovered the Mahler Fourth over 30 years ago, when I was in high school. I don't remember who the conductor was but the recording was part of a compellation issued by the Readers' Digest. At the time it seemed both enchanting and disturbing, and I'd never been able to hear this piece as "untroubled." Unfortunately, every performance I'd listened to since then tended to favor one emotional pole at the expense of the other: too sunny or too tortured. So, for years, I'd tried a number of "classic," "sleeper," and "what was I thinking?!" performances, none of which satisfied. Then this came out. I had seriously unkind things to say about Ivan Fischer's "Resurrection," but loved his Rachmaninoff Second and so, after reading positive reviews of this recording from both sides of the pond, decided to take a chance and see what he was up to here.

Finally I found the Mahler Fourth of my dreams. With all due respect to others who have had their say on this interpretation, I find nothing emotionally lightweight about it at all. The first movement reminds me of the powdered candy I used to pour from a long paper tube onto my tongue: it seemed intensely sweet at first blush but left the most surprisingly bitter aftertaste. I don't know where that wonderful aftertaste comes from but I think the sound of the orchestra has something to do with it. There's always a special treat to hearing Mahler played by an Eastern European ensemble, with its tart winds, and the Budapest Festival Orchestra here offer a wonderful anodyne to what I hear as the corporate blandness of so many better-known Symphonies and Philharmonics. My ear was constantly arrested by orchestral colors and turns of phrase that seemed different but intuitively "right." Yes, the expression "like hearing the work anew" is in serious need of retirement but I'm going to trot it out one more time because it applies so well here.

I've never heard the scherzo done better. The solo violin sounds more diabolical than in any other version I know and the phrasing is wonderfully pointed. In contrast, the trios, in which Fischer achieves a sense of aching nostalgia, are meltingly beautiful.

If the glockenspiel had been given just a little more presence in its one fast variation in the third movement, Fischer's interpretation would have been, for me, perfect. As it is, it's as near to perfection as I ever hope to find. The opening cello melody and its variations are beautifully inward and profoundly moving and the oboe-led second thematic group leaves a lump in my throat. From there the movement builds effortlessly and inevitably, yet the "Gates of Heaven" episode sounds like the most glorious surprise (the slight acceleration leading into the E major chord is magnificent). Fischer sees this as the real climax of the symphony, playing it as the climax of the first movement magnified, as it were, and in this way he ties together the two "slow-ish" movements (with the scherzo between them), making a proper introduction to the finale.

For three decades I've found the finale the dead spot in this symphony. Not that the movement isn't beautiful, per se, but that it seems a sad anticlimax, especially after the adagio. By not overplaying the third movement ("beautifully inward" and "profoundly moving" do not mean "milked") and taking this finale at a blithe amble, Fischer alone makes it seem an inevitable and perfectly fitting conclusion, and Miah Persson's voice, shorn of any sense of artifice or souped-up "sophistication" is just ideal.

Did I happen to mention that this performance is more rich in portamento than any I know?

This won't be a Mahler Fourth to all tastes, any more than any other is or ever will be, but it's nice to be reminded, every now and again, that some things are worth waiting for.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars every bit as good as Gramaphone/Classicstoday both say May 8 2009
By B. Guerrero - Published on Amazon.com
When Gramophone and Classicstoday.com both agree on a Mahler recording, you can count on them pretty much getting things right. Indeed, this is very, very good. But then again, how much sense does it make to shell out the big bucks for Channel Classics (great sound though), when you can get the latest DSD remastering of Bernstein's pioneering Columbia Records Mahler cycle for not a whole lot more? Still, let's stick to the musical facts.

Unlike another review given here, I actually find Fischer rather congenial and, at times, "moody" sounding in the first three movements. A look at the timings will show you that he's no speed-demon early on. But the fourth movement is taken quicker than usual. Sound weird? Consider that both Mahler (his piano roll) and Bruno Walter were consistently timed just around 8 minutes for the vocal finale. One has to remember that the fourth movement isn't a cozy sounding aria designed to make an opera house soprano feel comfortable. Instead, it's a boy's view of heaven and, more to the point, the longing to finally "live" with plenty of food to eat, and plenty of excess time to actually enjoy being a lad with lots of excess energy. But even more to the point, is the fact that Miah Persson sounds positively ideal for such a role. In other words, she's convincing as a youthful lad.

In addition to all that, add on Channel Classics usual outstanding sonics - combined with Fischer's usual care for balances and phrasing (without dragging) and you've got yourself a first class winner. Too bad that that remastered Bernstein set looks so tempting though! (which also has a really good 4th).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very fine Mahler 4, not equal to the greatest April 12 2014
By Charles F. O'Connell - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Everything well done, highly enjoyable, a first class outing, but falls short of the greatest Mahler 4ths. This symphony is unique among Mahler's symphonies in needing a special gentle, almost nostalgic touch throughout, a kind of paean to a vanishing world. Fischer's reading sometimes slides into the ominous sound world more associated with the 6th and 7th symphonies, a fearful look at the world to come. A Gramophone review in its composer recommendations series made a similar point. My own top choice remains Szell's great recording, followed by Sinopoli's Dresden recording. There is also a version also by the Cleveland Orchestra under von Donanhyi--superbly played with just the right emotional weight and corresponding sound. Also worth investigating is an often overlooked recording by Armin Jordan on Erato, which may be out of print. And Haitink's earlier Philip's recording remains a fine choice. Fisher's recording then: Top drawer, but short of best ever.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mahler 4th that whispers rather than shouts June 21 2012
By Gyges Three - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I've just listened to this recording and found it enchanting. Fischer observes Mahler's dynamic markings very carefully and a lot of them are ppp or pp. I had to turn up the volume of my Stax earspeakers. The orchestra sounds like a chamber ensemble and the big climax at the end of #3 is by far the loudest moment in the piece, as it should be. I noticed details that had escaped me in previous recordings such as the references to Sym #2. Enthralling!

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