I first heard this recording on Vinyl in 1971 and I remember being very impressed. Highly rated by the critics at the time of its initial release in 1965, it has stood the test of time.
Wonderfully phased throughout by Szell's masterly conducting of the Cleveland Orchestra, the four movements flow consistantly throughout. I particularly like the phasing of the opening bars taken slower than Bernstein's version which in my view, is too fast for the material and robs it of its charm. The sleigh bells just tingle along with absolute delight and set the tone for the rest of the movement.
The second movement with its dominance by the strings is lovely. Even though it only lasts something like nine minutes, its one of Mahler's finest creations.
The slow movement is masterful. Szell takes a slow pace, but does bring out the emotions of the music and makes it a joy to listen too. Wonderful.
The fourth and final movement sung well by Judith Raskin is actually a cross over from Mahler's Third Symphony. It compliments the entire work perfectly.
I do feel that it remains one of the finest versions around, so I am pleased to see that it is still available at a low price. The recording and sound is very good, well balanced and clear. Most Mahlerians will have this version anyway, but for those who are new to Mahler please do add it to your collection. Would be a shame if you didn't.
on 20 October 2011
Obviously, any appreciation of any performance is entirely subjective; that being said, this really would be my first choice in Mahler's fine Fourth Symphony. From the first note it is obvious that Szell is going to let the music breathe. Nothing hurried, as is the case with so many performances. If speed is your criterion, better look elsewhere. Szell has always struck me as meticulous in his tempi and this fourth is no exception. The Cleveland orchestra respond to their conductor as though conductor and musicians form one organic whole. Again, that is no more than one has come to expect from these forces. And the sound from Sony is nothing short of stunning! I played this with my 5.1 speakers giving full service and was nearly lifted from my seat. Just like being seated among the players, although that, of course won't be everybody's cup of tea. No need: the Sony engineers have, as always, risen to the occasion.
So what about the soprano soloist? Judith Raskin has just the right timbre to infuse Mahler's verses with that hint of child-like innocence that he surely had in mind. No need to worry on that score - a big bouquet to the lady.
The Songs of a Wayfarer needed a slight adjustment downwards in volume. Here the London Philharmonic, Andrew Davis and Frederica von Stade give good value, although, obviously, the chief attraction of the disc is the Symphony. Buy it and you won't be disappointed.
This item appeared to be out of stock at the time I ordered it and I had a lengthy wait (eleven weeks!) for Amazon to complete the order, but complete it they did. It was decidely worth the wait!
on 1 September 2010
This recording produced by Paul Myers and released by CBS some 40 years ago with Szell/Clevelend/Raskin was given a rosette by the Penguin Classical Record Guide and I have never heard better since I bought the LP in the 70's. I have since bought the CD and am am happy to say that it has not suffered from any adverse remastering.
Light-spirited, just the right tempo (not too fast unlike Simon Rattle's performance with the CBSO), happy yet intensely emotional, and all with good sound quality. Simply the best recording of Mahler's most delightful symphony.
on 23 November 2015
These are two marvellous Mahler performances. Sony like using these Wayfarer songs as a filler and I do not blame them.
Some say this 4th is the best. It is easy to hear why when you hear it. Pacing throughout is exquisite allowing every phrase and note to make maximum effect. The finale can seem a bit irrelevant. Here it really is a culmination of what has gone before. The child's vision is presented with not the slightest hint of condescension. This is deadly earnest. I often think this and not number 6 which should get the nickname 'Tragic'.
There are others which match this on their own terms. Obviously Kletzki, Reiner and Horenstein. Also perhaps Karajan Maazel and Bertini. And more.
But this one is my personal favourite. Fortunately the now quite ancient recording comes up as fresh as you could wish.
on 28 June 2012
This recording of Mahler's 4th Symphony should never be out of the catalogue. It is magnificently performed and gloriously recorded.
The pacing and phrasing have never been bettered. A remastered reissue might be desirable, since I recollect the vinyl LP version sounding both warmer AND a little more incisive than the Essential Classics reissue!
The artwork should also have been retained!
Von Stade is reliable in the Fahrenden Gesellen cycle (four stars), though many of us cannot conceive of any performance outranking Janet Baker's mid sixties performance with Sir John Barbirolli.
on 14 January 2004
This CD combines one of Mahler's less well known symphonies with his Songs of a Wayfarer. Both are excellent performances and provide a good overview in themselves of Mahler's art, dramatic, emotional symphonic music and beautiful, soul penetrating song. The orchestras and singers all perform to a high standard and the recording is good. It is recommended by the Penguin Guide too.