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Mahler Symphony No. 4

Description

Benjamin Zanderís Telarc recordings of the Mahler: Symphony No. 9(CD-80527) and more recently, the Symphony No. 5 (CD-80569), have been hailed by critics as "searing," "definitive" and "revelatory" for their passionate performances and impeccable adherence to the composerís markings in the score.

"...One senses that he has done everything in his power to conduct the score as Mahler would have conducted it," said Fanfare. "Zander understands Mahler in practice as well as theory," said the Sunday Times (London). "The result is exhilarating and often...overwhelming."

Equal praise has been given to Zanderís informative, entertaining and generously timed bonus discussion discs. Zander firmly believes that, given some guidance, everybody can understand and come to love great music. "This is fascinating stuff," said the Times, "and even those who know the music well can learn from it."

Here, the conductor joins the ethereal soprano Camilla Tilling (making her recording debut) in a richly detailed performance of the lively Fourth Symphony, whose sunny qualities met with surprised animosity during its first performances in Germany. The very characteristics that Mahler thought might win him greater supportóclarity, simplicity, and relative brevityóannoyed his audiences and inspired them to make ugly comments that were often anti-Semitic in nature.

In a letter to a friend, Mahler wrote that he could imagine the most wonderful target="_blank" title="s for the movements of this symphony, but would not "betray them to the rabble of critics and listeners" who would subject them to "their banal misunderstandings." The scherzo is the only movement for which we have Mahlerís own target="_blank" title=": Death Strikes Up. Alma Mahler explained that here "the composer was under the spell of the self-portrait by Arnold Bocklin, in which Death fiddles into the painterís ear while the latter sits entranced."

The final movement of the Fourth Symphony weaves the lovely song Das himmlische Leben (The Heavenly Life) into its orchestral fabric. Mahler finished the song in 1892, taking its lyrics from the collection of German folk poetry called Des Knaben Wunderhorn. In it, the singer tells the listener of domestic details in the heavenly kingdom, where "No worldly tumult is to be heard," and "All live in gentlest peace."

Soprano Camilla Tilling was born in Sweden and studied first at Gothenburg University and then in London at the Royal College of Music. She launched her international opera career in 1999, when she enjoyed enormous success singing the role of Corinna in a new production of Rossiniís Il Viaggio a Reims at New York City Opera. She has since made her debut at Covent Garden, and recent and future engagements include appearances at Glyndebourne, Gothenburg, the Aix-en-Provence Festival, and the Metropolitan Opera.

Benjamin Zander began working regularly with the Philharmonia Orchestra in 1995, conducting a series of Mahler symphonies to extraordinary ciritical acclaim. His recordings with the Philharmonia on Telarc include the Mahler Symphonies Nos. 4, 5, and 9, and the Fifth and Seventh Symphonies of Beethoven. Telarc is planning a new recording of Mahlerís Sixth Symphony in 2002.

Tracks

Disc One:

1. Bedachtig. Nicht eilen
2. In gemachlicher Bewegung. Ohne Hast
3. Ruhevoll (Poco adagio)
4. Sehr behaglich

Disc Two:

1. Fourth Movement: "The Heavenly Life"
2. First Movement: The Earthly Struggle
3. Second Movement: Death Takes the Fiddle
4. Third Movement: The Gates of Heaven

Reviews

This is without a doubt the most fascinating and moving performance of the Mahler 4th that I have ever heard.
*Star of the month* "HEAVENLY SPLENDOUR" One could simply come out with it and call this performance of the Fourth Symphony the most felicitous Mahler recording of recent years.
Zander's revelatory Mahler Fifth is followed by a Fourth that, without self-indulgence or exaggeration, similarly helps you to hear a familiar symphony in a new light.
"Benjamin Zander's interpretation is so fresh and unaffected that it wouldn't be at all far-fetched if Telarc had slapped a "100% Natural" sticker on the cover."
"Mr. Zander both gives the music room to breathe and makes it so clear that it's as if all four movements were fitted out with verbal texts: Mahler to sink your teeth into."


   


 
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