Mahler: Symphony No. 4; Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen
Erwin Stein's reduction of Mahler's "Symphony No. 4" and Arnold Schoenberg's pared-down version of "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen" were written for a concert series devoted to the presentation of modern music in chamber arrangements. The available orchestral resources were limited, and thus led to some inventive reworkings of the string parts, extensive woodwind doublings, and the use of the piano and harmonium as fill-in instruments for the brass. This compromise yields a lean sound that at first seems antithetical to the richness of Mahler. Yet these versions succeed on an intimate level and allow for heightened colors and expressive warmth. Close attention is paid to the details in Mahler's scores, and most of his extraordinary effects are preserved. However, these arrangements would be less convincing were it not that chamber-like textures are readily found in the originals, and their presence probably made arranging much easier for both Stein and Schoenberg. Kenneth Slowik leads the Smithsonian Chamber Players and the Santa Fe Pro Musica in charming readings that make the pieces sound fresh, though their interpretations -- based on Willem Mengelberg's annotated scores -- may strike some as too old-fashioned and sentimental. Soprano Christine Brandes is delightful in the symphony's final movement, and mezzo soprano Susan Platts is wonderfully dramatic in the lieder.