A wonderful performance of Mahler's fourth symphony
L. Johan Modée | Earth | 12/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the second issue of a Kurt Sanderling interpretation of a Mahler symphony from BBC Legends. The previous issue was an exceptionally fine performance of Mahler's ninth symphony, recorded in studio in 1981 (Mahler: Symphony No. 9).
The present issue incarnates a studio performance from 1978 of the fourth symphony. The orchestra is BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra (now BBC Philharmonic), the same orchestra as in the previous issue. Vocalist in the fourth movement is Felicity Lott in her prime voice.
I had great expectations for this issue. And, I'm glad to say, there are no disappointments here. On the contrary, this is clearly one of the very best interpretations of the fourth that now is available on record. Sanderling's approach is sensitive to the delicate score: no great exaggerations, only a stunning subtle flexibility in phrasing and tempo choices. The result is a beautiful, balanced performance, close to van Beinum's legendary performance (Decca, Japan issue), especially in the two final movements.
Sound is excellent (analogue stereo), and the orchestra plays with passion, doing their very best under Sanderling's baton.
I have been listening to this recording several times now. It strikes me as a very special recording of the fourth - the most enigmatic symphony from Mahler's symphonic legacy - capturing the complexity of the score in a perfectly convincing way.
References, in addition to van Beinum's recording, include Kubelik's wonderful recording for DG (Mahler: Symphony No. 4); Kletzki's classic account for EMI (Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde; Symphony No. 4); and Abravanel's exceptional performance for Vanguard (Mahler: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 4). All these are very special performances too. But I will return to Sanderling's recording more often, since it give me the impression of a real crème de la crème performance.