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Gustav Mahler: Symphony no. 4 in G Major
Miah Persson (Soprano), Budapest Festival Orchestra, Iván Fischer (Conductor)
Recorded at the Palace of Fine Arts, Budapest (September 2008) – 57’00
Channel Classics – Booklet in English, German, and French

This CD is labeled by Channel Classics as a Super Audio CD, recorded in multi-channel digital SURROUND/5.0 sound. And indeed, it is a “super-sonic” audiophile recording! Mahler’s complex symphonic orchestration greatly benefits from this type of recording, and many subtle inner voices of the music, that are often obscured in recordings, are clearly revealed in this brilliant and transparent performance.

I found a great deal to admire in Fischer’s presentation of this popular symphony, most notably its pristine “Mozartian” approach. The great Mahler conductors of the recent past, particularly Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, and Otto Klemperer, linger over this music, letting it spread outward like a vast morass in space. Maestro Fischer holds the reigns tightly; distilling the music into a fine, clear wine, which has a taste that is deliciously light and clean, with no heavy aftertaste. I find this approach refreshing, and the music loses none of its punch. In fact, it has a power and forward motion that is often lacking in the more expansive and sprawling renditions. For me it immediately calls to mind the style of Bruno Walter’s Mahler.

From the evidence of this recording, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, which I have not heard live in performance, is a magnificent symphony. The strings are quite lush, without being overly saccharine. The brass has a bold and clarion sound, and the winds possess a warm fullness. The drums and percussion are impressive and strikingly recorded with a great deal of impact on this CD.

Soprano Miah Persson is superb. I am so tired of hearing boy sopranos in the last movement of the Mahler 4th symphony. Miss Persson's voice is especially ideal in timbre for this piece, and she sings the music with a childlike sweetness that is both appropriate and convincing. I assume she will soon be in great demand as soloist for this work, if she is not so already.

If you are looking for a new vision on this symphony that eschews the clichés of the past, this is a recording I can highly recommend. The Sonics will definitely impress you.

Micaele Sparacino




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