This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Pierre Boulez takes a fresh approach to Mahler's much-recorded Fourth Symphony. Eschewing the received Mahlerian style, Boulez instead views this echt-18th century work composed at the close of the 19th from the perspective of our 20th century embarking on the 21st, thus infusing this reading with modern sensibility. Don't expect the usual accelerandos and ritardandos; sentimentality for its own sake is not the Boulez way. Instead he sees entire movements as whole entities and plans his tempo relationships, and rubato, to fit his conception. This approach is most convincing in the first movement where the quick gait draws us immediately into Mahler's magical world. The lyrical second subject, usually elegant and genteel, here flows like a
cool stream. Boulez's carefully rationed rubato is employed to round off a phrase rather than expand it. In the development the impetuous pulse presses ever forward, letting nothing get in its way, and builds to a frenzied, brightly-lit climax, one of the best on record. This interpretation brings to mind Fritz Reiner's wonderful recording with the Chicago Symphony on RCA. The Cleveland Orchestra's buoyant, crystalline and clean-lined playing perfectly realises Boulez's intentions.
The second movement suffers from a curious detachment that is at odds with the nature of the music. The village fiddler's tune is robbed of its sarcasm when played in such a subdued manner, with muted colors from the orchestra, and weighed down by Boulez's inflexible tempo. The adagio, on the other hand, is wonderfully serene. Boulez pays special attention to the string portamentos that accent the dramatic passages (which the Clevelanders play with a generously singing tone). When the main theme returns in 3/4 time, Boulez's quicker tempo is (for once) perfectly balanced against the rapid accelerando that follows. Ideally judged tempo relationships make the finale sound less like an interrupted lullaby and more like the child-in-heaven song it was intended to be. Juliane Banse's singing has a beautiful knowing quality, though I must admit a preference for the childlike wonder of Barbara Hendricks in her radiant performance with Esa-Pekka Salonen on Sony Classical. Deutsche Grammophon's clear, impactful, and realistic recording is one of the best they've made in Cleveland. For the familiar approach, Bernstein (DG), Salonen, and Levi (Telarc) are the modern exemplars, but Boulez, starting with a clean sheet of paper, offers a wonderfully convincing alternative.
--Victor Carr, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 4 in G major by Gustav Mahler
William Preucil (Violin),
Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Written: 1892-1900; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 04/1998
Venue: Masonic Auditorim, Cleveland, Ohio
Length: 53 Minutes 32 Secs.
Symphony No.4 In G: 1. Bedächtig. Nicht eilen - Recht gemächlich
Symphony No.4 In G: 2. In gemächlicher Bewegung. Ohne Hast
Symphony No.4 In G: 3. Ruhevoll (Poco adagio)
Symphony No.4 In G: 4. Sehr behaglich: "Wir genießen die himmlischen Freuden"
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