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Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 4

Sarah Fox , Gustav Mahler , Sir Charles Mackerras , The Philharmonia Orchestra Audio CD

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1. Symphony No. 4 - Philharmonia Orchestra

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Recorded at the Royal Festival Hall in February 2006, the next disc in Signum s series of live orchestral recordings with the Philharmonia features the late Sir Charles Mackerras conducting Mahler s Symhpony No.4. The concert was a memorable one, as this review of that concert demonstrates: This performance was inspired and interesting ... Setting off at a no-nonsense, fastish speed, Mackerras s appreciation of the numerous changes of tempos was a miracle of refined music-making that enhanced the rustic joys of the first movement. What impressed so much was the innate humanity of this music that in other hands can come across as insincere. Numerous details were bought out in the music, not least gurgling bassoons, clarinets suggestive of birds, and flutes that effortlessly floated above the general melee. Each movement received wonderful care for the sentiment that lies behind the notes; the slow movement in particular was of a poise and serenity that was truly touching. The singing of Sarah Fox in the finale embellished the entire sense of naturalness that was enshrined in this memorable rendition, a triumph for the partnership of the Philharmonia Orchestra, on riveting form, and the venerable Mackerras. ClassicalSource.com

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real beauty from Mackerras at his very best 21 July 2012
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
In a review of the Feb. 2006 concert that featured this Mahler fourth, one review gushed over it as "a miracle of refined music-making." Mackerras, who has been commemorated in a series of CDs on Signum since his death in 2010, was eighty at the time. Beloved in England, he has never struck me as an inspired conductor, but this really is an outstanding performance. It is quick and almost no-nonsense, exactly the wrong approach to Mahler in my mind, and the recordings that fall into the same camp (notably Reiner and Szell) have never appealed to me. But the reviewer hit upon the key word: refinement. The Philharmonia, caught in excellent, detailed sound, adds immeasurably to a sense of alertness and sheer exuberance that fits beautifully with Mackerras's fast tempos in the first two movements. Bucolic, spirited, and delightfully pointed in its phrasing, this is irresistible music-making.

At 21 min. the slow movement isn't quickly paced, but Mackerras keeps to his intention to avoid seriousness and weight. He makes the lovely main theme sound light and meditative at the same time. the Philharmonia strings are really poised, keeping the lyric line moving without sagging and yet very tenderly phrased. In the finale the soloist, soprano Sarah Fox, is unknown to me. Mackerras gives her the right support, with a playful bounce to the rhythms, and she is quite lovely in portraying a child's view of paradise. the tremulousness in her voice is very appealing, and although she is miked a bit too far away, her German diction seems good, too.

In all, this may be the single best recording I've ever heard from Mackerras, and a beautiful addition to the very full catalog of Mahler Fourths.
4.0 out of 5 stars Mackerras Mahler 4 30 Sep 2011
By neill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
We don't often think as Mackerras as a Mahler conductor but I have a fine BBC recording of his Mahler 6th. and I'm sure many more of his Mahler concerts will now be unearthed. In the early 1950s one of the first pieces of classical music to grab my young attention was the Mahler 4th. symphony along with Furtwangler's Tchaikovsky 6th. The Mahler still remains one of my great loves. Over the years I have recordings (mainly LP) of Kletzi, Szell, Klemperer, Karajan, Britten, Barbirolli, Mackerras and Kubelik. Mackerras is therefore up against formidable competition. Two recordings for me now stand out ; the Britten and Mackerras. As an Aussie my sympathies are with Charlie. Glowing performance, fine recording and sympathetic soprano. And yet...Paul Kletzi, a great reading) probably now unknown and unremembered.
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