Mahler: Symphony No.4 in G major

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Mahler: Symphony No.4 in G major
Minnesota Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä; with Carolyn Sampson, soprano

[ BIS SACD / Hybrid SACD ]

Release Date: Friday 3 January 2020

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In Gustav Mahler's first four symphonies many of the themes originate in his own settings of folk poems from the collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Boy's Magic Horn). A case in point, Symphony No. 4 is built around a single song, Das himmlische Leben (The Heavenly Life) which Mahler had composed some eight years earlier, in 1892. The song presents a child's vision of Heaven and is hinted at throughout the first three movements. In the fourth, marked 'Sehr behaglich' (Very comfortably), the song is heard in full from a solo soprano instructed by Mahler to sing: 'with serene, childlike expression; completely without parody!'

The symphony is scored for a typically large, late romantic orchestra (though without trombones and tuba) and an extensive percussion section which includes sleigh bells as well as glockenspiel. However Mahler mostly deploys his forces with a transparency and lightness more akin to chamber music or eighteenth-century models like Mozart or Haydn. The Fourth has become one of his bestloved symphonies, and is here performed by Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, joined by the angelic voice of English soprano Carolyn Sampson.

"he first two movements are splendidly realized, combining poetry with a sense of momentum, and just the right touch of the spectral in the soloist's tuned-up violin in the second movement....The quality of recording is beautifully clear - as one expects from BIS - and I like very much their robust, bio-friendly, slim packaging, a huge improvement on easily-broken jewel cases....Make no mistake: this Mahler 4 ranks with the very best, and I shall return to it very often." MusicWeb Recommended Feb 2020


Symphony No. 4 in G
major (1899-1900)

Osmo Vänskä conducts Mahler's Fourth Symphony