Mahler: Symphony No. 4 / Berg: Sieben fruhe Liederby Claudio Abbado, Renée Fleming
Hearing the opening of Gustav Mahler's Fourth Symphony, with its innocent jingling of sleighbells and the Schubertian melody that follows, it's easy to imagine that this is going to be a more easygoing, peaceful work than the composer's other angst-ridden symphonies. Some conductors choose to pursue precisely that path; and perhaps it's this, along with the gratifying star turn offered to a soprano soloist in the final movement, that has made it one of Mahler's most popular symphonies. But Claudio Abbado is not one to trivialize Mahler's vision in this way, and his new recording of the Fourth -- another in a series of live recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic -- seems dedicated to bringing out the symphony's darker undertow. Mahler was a master of musical grotesquerie, and it's the elements of distortion and sometimes creepy exaggeration -- most famously the mistuned violin solo in the Scherzo -- that Abbado really excels at bringing to our attention, animating the spectral and uncanny world that much of this symphony inhabits. Renée Fleming provides another sort of animation in the Finale, singing the child's vision of heaven that concludes the symphony. Even if Fleming's rich, lustrous voice sounds more knowing and mature than naively childlike, there will be no complaints about the beauty she brings to the part. Alban Berg's luxurious Seven Early Songs allow Fleming more room for expressive expansion, featuring the kind of soaring melodic lines her voice is made for. Combined with Abbado's strong credentials as a Berg conductor, Fleming's singing here makes this one of the most seductive recordings available of these lyrical gems, not to mention an ideal encore to the distinguished Mahler performance it follows.
- Release Date:
- Deutsche Grammophon
- Symphony No. 4 in G major - Gustav Mahler - Claudio Abbado - Christopher Alder - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - Nikolaus Boddin - Renée Fleming - Lionel Salter - Guy Braunstein
- Early Songs (7), for voice & piano (or orchestra) - Alban Berg - Claudio Abbado - Christopher Alder - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - Nikolaus Boddin - Renée Fleming - Otto Erich Hartleben - Carl Hauptmann - Paul Hohenberg - Nikolaus Lenau - Rainer Maria Rilke - Lionel Salter - Johannes Schlaf - Theodor Storm - Guy Braunstein
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