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A luminous version of Mahler's Fourth Symphony
Steven A. Peterson | Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL) | 06/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The redoubtable Herbert von Karajan conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in a luminous version of Mahler's Symphony # 4, able assisted by soprano Edith Mathis in the 4th Movement. This is an enchanting symphony created by Mahler, distant from his larger scaled works. Movement by movement, there is an organic feel to this charming work, as each movement segues naturally to the next movement.
The first movement features the "sleigh bells," which act as a kind of glue as this movement emerges segment by segment. This movement is accessible and has a light-hearted element at many points throughout. The liner notes state that this is "as warm and beguiling as a summer's afternoon," not a bad description from my perspective. This movement carries a nice pace forward from one section to the next.
The second movement, the scherzo, is lively and seems to follow naturally from the first movement. It is both sprightly and contemplative, closing out quietly--save for the very end.
Then, the third movement, the slow movement. This is elegiac, wonderfully textured, with some dramatic moments at the end (those timpani!).
Finally, the fourth movement. The words are from Mahler's own "Das Knaben Wunderhorn," and soprano Edith Mathis sings these words well, speaking of St. Peter, lambs going to slaughter, vegetables and fruits, deer and hares in a spit. . . . What wondrous music, consistent with one line sung by Mathis: "There's no music on earth that can be compared to ours." And then the slow closing to this movement and to the symphony-as-a-whole.
This is a strong version of Mahler's 4th Symphony. Those interested in Mahler would, I believe, enjoy this particular reading of the music by conductor and orchestra.