This exciting, vibrant performance of the Mahler 4th Symphony truly stands out from the dozens of other recordings made of it since the early 1960s. It's definitely the best live recording of it I've heard, demonstrating the splendid musical chemistry between the Staatskapelle Dresden - the world's oldest symphony orchestra - and the late Giuseppe Sinopoli, its former music director. This is a concert recording (recorded live in Dresden on May 29, 1999) that has the intimacy of a well-produced studio recording, since the listener will think that he (or she) is sitting amongst the orchestra itself, hearing nothing less than virtuoso playing from the strings, winds and brass. If nothing else, the intimate qualities of this recording merely reinforce the "chamber music" ambience of the symphonic score itself, which remains among Mahler's most popular, and most performed, works. In stark contrast to the longer, more somber, 2nd and 3rd symphonies, the 4th Symphony in G major is a spirited, joyous work replete with humor. Composed in 1899, the symphony was inspired by his arrangement for voice and orchestra of his song "Das himmlische Leben" ("The Heavenly Life") originally for his Das Knaben Wunderhorn song cycle; the song itself would become an integral part of the fourth and final movement of this symphony. As for this superb performance itself, Sinopoli led the Staatskapelle Dresden in an exhilarating performance after a nearly forty-minute long musicological analysis that he presented with the orchestra playing excerpts (approximately seventeen minutes from Sinopoli's lecture are included in this CD's final tracks); one that compares favorably to both Boulez's Deutsche Grammophon recording with the Cleveland Orchestra and a live performance I heard a few years ago at Carnegie Hall from the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Bernard Haitink. Sinopoli's interpretation isn't excessively Romantic, but sounds right, keeping tempi somewhat brisk. Finally soprano Juliane Banse is a joyful soloist in the fourth movement. Without question, this is a Mahler 4th symphony recording that I can recommend highly not only to Mahler fans, but especially those interested in seeking out more recordings which demonstrated the superlative musical chemistry between Giuseppe Sinopoli and the Staatskapelle Dresden.