Surprisingly good and distinctive
Allan Brain | Houston, TX USA | 01/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's dismaying to see that this recording is apparently
not currently available.
I bought it on the strength of the soloist,
a most unusual one at that, a boy soprano
who has become since the early days of his
career an adult soprano, Max Emmanuel Cencic.
He was a star soloist with the Vienna Boys
Choir in the late '80s, around the time of
But I only recently got around to hearing it.
I have to admit that I was skeptical of an
orchestra from what was then Yugoslavia,
particularly from a city that I had gone
through by car on my way to Italy a few times.
Ljublana is not exactly Vienna or Budapest.
But as I listened to the recording, I felt that
it was idiomatic, well played, well recorded,
and then of course I waited with some anticipation
for the entry of the soloist in the final movement,
"a child's version of heaven".
Bernstein recorded this symphony with a boy
soloist with what most critics consider mixed
results. I like that recording, by
one of the most celebrated Mahler conductors
in history. In some respects, that recording
is better than this one--it's more highly inflected emotionally.
But Cencic is so good in the finale
of this recording, that I think I prefer this one.
You can probably find it in some cut-out bins here
and there or perhaps it will be reissued on some
budget label like "Brilliant Classics"."
Boy Wonder A Revelation
Ed Luhrs | Long Island, NY USA | 04/06/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Recordings like this lift my spirit. It confirms my belief that there are more than a couple of wonderful orchestras on planet Earth. This ensemble hails from the beautiful city of Ljubljana in Slovenia, across the Adriatic from Northern Italy. Anton Nanut leads the orchestra in a graceful, engaging reading of Mahler's Symphony No. 4. The recording, originally released by Stradivari Classics, dates from the late 1980s. Tempi are well chosen, the sound balance good. Sheer perfection? No. Perfection is not what makes this performance great. It's the warm nature of the music, which is conveyed exceptionally well. The third movement is very well paced, preparing the listener for Max Emanuel Cencic in the finale.
This kid KICKS THE LIVING SNOT out of most of the competition. I'm not saying this to set up a comparative analysis: there are a number of finely sung finales, Kathleen Battle being one of my favorites. I am simply emphasizing how special this particular performance is, which may keep someone from passing it over. It may seem strange to feature a boy soprano when so many recordings opt for a female voice. Look at the lyrics: a young child imagining heaven. This is it.
Thanks to Amazon for providing the MP3 download! Never mind preconceived notions about budget labels and small orchestras. There is plenty of heart here. You may find yourself falling in love with this music all over again.