It's a real shame that Fritz Reiner only made two Mahler recordings (he and the CSO also did a fine Das Lied von der Erde). Throughout this account, it is clear that the Hungarian maestro had a great feel for the idiom, conducting the first two movements with character, well-placed glissandi, and wit. Also praiseworthy is the playing of the Chicago Symphony in this, their first Mahler recording. Despite the trumpets' tendencies to blast, it is evident that they were a Mahler orchestra of the first rank even in 1959. Although this is one of the quickest Fourth's on record, the recording never seems rushed. The second movement is a particular delight, the CSO demonstrating their ability to play "in between the notes" (to use a Stravinsky phrase). What keeps this performance just below the very best (a select and diverse group consisting of Szell, Previn, and Haitink) is Reiner's unwillingness to play the third movement with the requisite warmth and Della Casa's heavy-sounding soprano in the Finale (the playing gets a little raucous in this last movement as well). Still, the "Reiner Sound" is evident throughout as he makes much of the Mozartisms and Schubertisms that abound and shapes the melodic lines with elegance and authority. This recording is enthusiastically recommended to those who admire Reiner's work in Chicago, to those who do not cotton to some of the other recordings I've mentioned, and especially to those who yearn for a recording from a real "Master of the Baton" (are there any such conductors in existence today?).