Mahler: Symphony No. 4 / Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Essential Classics)
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It is very hard for me to describe different elements of Szell's interpretation here, because it seems like there is none. What the listener ends up hearing IS Mahler's 4th Symphony. The legendary Cleveland Orchestra seems to blend together perfectly in a mix of precision and beauty. Judith Raskin again is the perfect voice for the finale conveying a very simple, yet overwhelming beauty bringing to a close the greatest recording of this piece, and maybe the closest to absolute perfection I've ever heard on disc. This is a no brainer.
1. Szell slows down too much at "Fliessend, aber ohne Hast" in I (the beginning of the brief A major passage, where the four flutes enter in unison, Rehearsal 10 in Dover).
2. The solo violinist is slightly out of tune several bars before Rehearsal 4 in III.
That's it. And these two "flaws" can be easily ignored. Simply put, this recording is a knock-out. You can't ask for better playing, the soloist is great, and the sound is clear yet full of warmth. Moreover, Szell's conducting is tough to beat. Indeed, I have yet to hear better interpretation live or on disc. I is a delight - Szell and the Clevelanders were tops when it came to Mozart and Haydn, and they put their expertise in the two Viennese classicists to good use here. II and IV brim with life and personality. III is astonishingly rich, serene, and relaxed (except for the passages which demand tension, to which the performers bring just the right amount). Anybody who thinks Szell was a cold conductor and that his Cleveland Orchestra was incapable of matching the great European orchestras in warmth should hear this.
Next to this performance, other great recordings are wanting. My second favorite, Previn, has some awkward moments and Elly Ameling is not at her best. Haitink is a little stiff compared to Szell, Horenstein rather stilted, Klemperer misconeives III and has a miscast soprano, Kletzki is a little dry, and Reiner's III cannot compete with Szell's.
The Songs of a Wayfarer are decently done, but I do prefer a baritone (especially Hermann Prey).
At this price, why would you even think of not buying this recording? GET IT! Even if you already own ten other Mahler Fourths.
As to the vocal solist Raskin does a commendable job and has some of the boyish quality really needed! She was tremdously good and one wonders where she is these days! This is a superb disc for the people out there who want a non fussy interpretation which really sticks close to the score.
Keep your Klemperer discs as well...Szell and Kemperer were much more alike than one would wish to think!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The G Major symphony is Mahler's most accessible orchestral work, and what a beautiful symphony it is. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Southern Man
I bought this on Amazon. A very good recording for those among you who not have a stereo good enough to reproduce the bass on the TELARC version. Read morePublished 21 months ago by F. P. Dunbar
This is about as good as it gets. In addition to a sweet, affectionate interpretation, we get probably the most-precise treatment of the text ever heard. Read morePublished on April 4, 2013 by John J. Puccio
In his biography of George Szell, Michael Charry (Szell's former assistant) tells the story about how Szell kept a cherished copy of the score of the Mahler Fourth with him, and... Read morePublished on July 29, 2011 by Firebrand
For performing musicians the thing about Gustav Mahler's music is that it really keeps you busy: together with skads of people on stage you puff and saw away for all you're worth... Read morePublished on July 2, 2011 by Joseph Ryan
After hearing a live performance of Mahler's Fourth Symphony by the National Symphony Orchestra with Christopher Eschenbach conducting and Dawn Upshaw as the soprano soloist, I... Read morePublished on April 13, 2011 by Robin Friedman
This is a wonderful symphony, comparable to the greatest symphonies of Sibelius or Tchaikovsky. It can even live in the company of Beethoven 6 and Mozart 40. Read morePublished on February 5, 2011 by William Shardlow
I grew up in the Cleveland area and was weaned, as it were, by George Szell. Hearing his concerts in Severance Hall were among the seminal experiences of my life. Read morePublished on November 6, 2010 by Allan S. Kohrman
Mahler was among the most sentimental composers of them all. Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov are the rare symphonists who approach Mahler on the sentimental turf. Read morePublished on September 23, 2010 by dv_forever