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Michael Gielen Conducts

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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£20.93 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details Only 1 left in stock. Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Product details

  • Audio CD (28 Jan. 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Swr Music/Naxos
  • ASIN: B000083ENC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,799,242 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Michael Gielen has complete cycle of Mahler's symphonies available (rather expensively) on Hanssler Classics, recorded, in an exciting fashion, with the South West German Radio Symphony Orchestra. This cycle's version of Mahler 4 is so very nearly top-of-the heap amongst the dozens of recordings of what is perhaps Mahler's most popular symphony. It is indeed a charming and delightful work, less dramatic and, well, noisy, than many other of his symphonies. That's the surface impression, but it is actually a complex and highly-structured work, something that becomes clearer with repeated listening.

Gielen's orchestra might not be quite from the top-rank, but they play very well indeed, and this is one of my favourite versions of this lovely piece. Very much a "modernist" take on the symphony (rather similar to Boulez and Abbado), Gielen presses on, adding excitement to this sometimes too-softly played work. All goes well, if a touch roughly, until the fourth movement. I'm afriad that the soprano, Christine Whittlesley, is just wrong for my taste. She sounds to hard and cruel for the words. It's not a disaster, but a disappointment.

Boulez is excellent Mahler Symphony 4, as is Chailly Mahler: Symphony No.4 / Berg: Seven Early Songs, and, for a very different approach,you could try Welser-MostMahler Symphony No. 4 /Franz Welser-Most among the (fairly) recent versions.

I'm very pleased to have this CD as Gielen includes an impressive extra in the form of Franz Schreker's "Prelude to a Drama", which is well-worth hearing.

Recommended, as long as you can put up with the slightly scary soprano!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant also-ran in the Mahler Fourth sweepstakes 28 Oct. 2008
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Every Mahler symphony offers endless possibilities for emotional depth and musical imagination, so what can one say about a reading like this one of the Fourth Sym. that starts at the beginning, reaches the middle, and comes to an end? There are no remarkable events along the way. Other than being a bit brisk, and a little breathless in the finale, Gielen has nothing to say. But of course, that is what he wants to say, that Mahler, in his mind, shouldn't be seductive, ravishing, dramatic, turbulent, conflicted, ironic, faux-naive, sentimental, or volcanic.

If you agree, here's the Mahler Fourth for you. Among so-called "objective" readings (Reiner, Szell, Boulez), it's neat, cleanly played, and pleasant. The soprano in the finale, Christine Whittlesey, has the right child-like voice, although she does little to dramatize a child's view of heaven. The orchestra plays middling well, and the recorded sound from 1988 is clear and natural (a virtue common to all of Gielen's Mahler cycle).

The generous 18 min. filler, a lush but not overblown Vorspiel by Franz Schreker, is linked to Mahler by anti-Semitism. Schreker had a Jewish father, amking him fair game for being banned under the Nazis, even thogh he was lucky to die in 1934 before turning sixty. His style is almost identical to Korngold's, if less flamboyant. Gielen does well by this soothing, impresisonistic score, which could also be described as pleasant.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mahler Fourth to Treasure 30 July 2015
By RJAdams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There are not many outright disappointing recordings of this most joyful symphony of Mahler. I was curious how the German Argentinian conductor Michael Gielen would come across. By reputation he has been a specialist in the second Viennese school of composers such as Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. He shares with his contemporary Pierre Boulez a reputation for clarity. So, would this be a performance in which all the notes and instrumental lines stand revealed? Yes, indeed, it is. Would there also be lyricism, narration, and appreciation of the sonorous splendor and structure in the score beyond the printed notes, qualities that some exponents of musically complex scores downplay in the pursuit of clarity and light? I find all of that here as well.

Comparing this performance with Reiner CSO, Bernstein Amsterdam, Gatti RPO, Zander Telarc, I prefer Gielen. He captures the score brilliantly and is abetted by detailed but atmospheric sound in a beautiful, burnished acoustic. Gielen heeds and gives voice to all of Mahler's feelings, his joy, angst, tenderness, doubt, fearfulness, humor, spookiness, innocence, and exaltation. This performance really gives us the best of all possible worlds. The soprano soloist in the fourth movement is very good if not the best ever recorded performance, but there is nothing distracting in the performance that on second or subsequent hearings would wear poorly, as is the case with the Reiner or Bernstein recordings.

The Schreker "Prelude" is a wonderful bonus and strikes me, after several hearings, as one of the very best late romantic works I had never heard about until this disc came by. I would put it on a par with almost anything by Richard Strauss, and it projects an ominous atmosphere not unlike the latter's opera Elektra.

In sum, highly recommended. Gielen has risen in my estimation, through this recording and others of music from Beethoven to Schoenberg, as an enlightening and musical presence on the podium, one who delivers story, beauty, and clarity. The orchestra lacks nothing in tonal splendor or virtuosity.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear as spring water. 31 Mar. 2011
By bikeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The most lyrical of Mahler's symphonies is beautifully presented on this recording - no bombast, no hysterics, no messing about. What I really like about this recording is the crystal clear sound and the orchestra's complete command of the music. This is a thoroughly assured performance. Nothing is overdone for effect, nothing is rushed, and the soloist in the 4th movement is the best I've ever heard, a warm, shimmering voice. Geilen's cerebral approach to Mahler didn't cut it (in my opinion) for his 9nth (listen to Barbirolli's 9nth!), but to my ears, his grounded and yet sympathetic direction brings out all the best contained in this sublime music, it's gentleness, it's pastoral idealism and story-telling whimsy. The 4th is unique in Mahler's cycle because of it's even good-temper. There is none of the caustic sarcasm or longing despair found in his other symphonies. It's a walk in the woods on a sunny day. Geilen allows the music to speak for itself. A definitive performance!
7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mahler's 4th 15 Dec. 2004
By Mr John Haueisen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Regarding the Mahler 4th, Michael Gielen conducts this performance, and it is as beautiful as nearly all the versions I've heard of Mahler's Fourth. Christine Whittlesey provides the kind of simple, clear, non-dramatic voice that Mahler would use if he couldn't get a good boy soprano.

Forgive me, but Schreker's music I simply cannot understand or appreciate at this stage in my development. If you can appreciate Schreker, I can only tell you that this sounds orchestrally well-done to me--it's just that I don't like it.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but one can do better than this. 21 Jun. 2011
By J. K. Davis MD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It's difficult to find a recording of Mahler's 4th where there isn't SOMETHING to like; it's the most accessible of his symphonies.If we start with the assumption of good sound quality and orchestral playing, there isn't much here beyond that. Try the Bernstein (SONY, not the DG)or Abbado (Berlin)for a totally different experience. If you want 'cooler' but beautiful sounding, Chailly or Maazel (VPO, Sony)are superior to this one IMHO.
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