Mahler: Symphony No. 4
Fans of Gustav Mahler's joyous "Symphony No. 4 in G major" will relish this buoyant performance by Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, featuring soprano Miah Persson, for it is wholly in keeping with the light tone and merry spirit of the score and is as delightful as any other recording on the market. Along with the "Second" and "Third" symphonies, this is one of the so-called Wunderhorn symphonies because of its radiant setting of the German poem, "Das himmlische Leben" in the Finale, and because of the incorporation of related themes from Mahler's "Des Knaben Wunderhorn." It expresses the youthful energy and magical sweetness of the first period in Mahler's symphonic style and is the culmination of this charming phase, before the onset of darker things in the "Fifth," "Sixth," and "Seventh" symphonies. Fischer and his musicians are in a light and playful mood, and their reading is cheerful, energetic, and irresistibly gemütlich in its warmth and happiness. Some listeners may quibble over Fischer's seemingly casual use of rubato, which in spots can seem a little too arbitrary, but on the whole this remains a well-balanced and spirited performance, and the slight changes of tempo serve to give the symphony a gentle Viennese flavor that seems indispensable. The DSD multi-channel sound on this SACD is stunning in its clarity, wide in its dimensions, and vibrant in its tone colors, so there is much to rejoice over in this sublime recording.