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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 11 December 2013
This recording, compiled from two 'live' concerts in early 1212, is a very successful and compelling re-think of the symphony by Chailly. In the main bonus feature, Chailly explains in some detail how, after a considerable gap, he has returned to this symphony and in the course of so doing, he has substantially revised his previous views on interpretation.

The result has been an interesting mixture. This is now a fleeter view of the symphony but also one that manages to bring out the darker elements lurking below the surface. This may seem to be a contradiction in terms but in reality it makes for a compelling and illuminating performance.

The subject of tempo is very important to Chailly who has taken great pains to go back to original sources and performances practices in order to observe specific instructions and metronome markings that are sometimes not observed as well as they might be. Interestingly, his performance of the final three movements is faster than the current three recent performances that I have on DVD/Bluray, those being the two Abbado versions and the Gergiev version. The last movement in particular is given both a markedly faster performance than the others as well as delivering an altogether darker view of the text.

Only by comparing this performance with Reiner's from 1958 does one find a similar approach to such tempi. Reiner delivers the fastest first and third movements of these five comparisons and is also swift in the remaining two movements. Significantly, Reiner's version has long been much admired. Thus Chailly is closer to Reiner than either of the Abbado versions or that by Gergiev.

Chailly makes the point that even in the calmest or least troubled movements there is darkness or irony. That is obvious in the second movement and the climax of the otherwise serene third movement always comes as a troubled and unexpected surprise. The text of the last movement has a clear problem with so much slaughter of animals for the delight of the inhabitants of Heaven by saints and unlikely inhabitants of Heaven as Herod. How can this be a scene of peace or joy - or is this asking us to question this ourselves? Chailly takes that view and the upbeat tempi for this movement underlines the irony or questionable nature of the text relative to the carefree music that supports it.

This then is an interesting view of the work which makes us ask questions about possible sub-texts. There are two bonuses - those of Chailly's views on performance and a description of the Welte-Mignon piano player device. That is then heard as Mahler's recording of the last movement of this symphony is heard on a piano. This is an interesting experience but unlikely to make listeners wish for a return to times past for recording enjoyment.

The recording quality is superlative with detailed but unobtrusive camera work and crystal clear imaging. The sound is one of the best yet heard in this medium and is presented in DTS 5.1 and stereo.

I would suggest that this disc now has strong claims to be the current leader of video discs, and if that response is challenged, then its position of at least one of the very best is unlikely to be a cause for complaint.
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on 24 August 2014
This is a marvellous performance as are all the Chailly Blu-ray releases of Mahler with outstanding camera work and the most delicate sound. It has interesting extras but no other works like the two Abbado recordings. Despite this I consider this the best of the available recordings on Blu-ray and I await 7, 9 (due imminently) 3 and 1 with great anticipation.
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on 29 January 2015
Superb! A delightful performance of No. 4, as well as being excellent in terms of sound and picture quality.
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on 23 December 2013
A super performance and well recorded. Did not know the soprano,but thought she was very good.This disc joins my selection
of Bluray recordings,where I can watch conductors perform
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on 27 May 2013
Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhausorchester are proving to be an excellent combination. The former's intuitive musicianship and the latter's thoroughbred sound have paid interpretative dividends with their Beethoven cycle, an ongoing series of Mahler films and, hopefully, their forthcoming survey of Brahms. This latest DVD and BluRay recording of Mahler 4 by the resourceful Leipzig-based company Accentus – complete with a fascinating performance of one of Mahler's piano rolls – finds Chailly and his team in particularly fine fettle.

Chailly last tackled this symphony 11 years ago. It is, he confesses on the accompanying interview, 'unfinished business'. In truth, how could anyone settle on a final reading of this work? Chailly brings the plurality of the piece to bear on this performance, fusing 'neo-Classical' detachment and an almost Elgarian sense of space and nobility.

The Gewandhausorchester is a superb instrument for exploring these contrasts. A really bouncy string spiccato and nimble woodwind, though never overplayed, give a requisite dose of acid, while the third movement is a model of Apollonian grace and restraint. They play up the 'Humoreske' elements of the work, while never denying its heart.

Chailly and the orchestra are also wonderfully clear throughout (mirrored in Accentus' on-the-ball camera work). Contrapuntal lines tell within often-complex textures, as opposed to the lusher plusher recording Chailly fashioned during his time at the Concertgebouw. Evident of this is the really spry quality Christina Landshamer brings to the final movement, effortlessly graceful with cheekily vivid diction.

Whether Chailly, or even Mahler, attains resolution within the finale's decidedly strange view of heavenly life remains unclear. Pitched somewhere between the certainty of the 3rd Symphony and the even more plural language of the 5th, Mahler 4 is anything but conclusive. But in this jostling and vivid performance, Chailly and his excellent Leipzig musicians remain wonderfully alive to all interpretative possibilities.
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on 31 August 2013
Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig have already given us two outstanding interpretations of Mahler symphonies on DVD/Blu-ray: the Second and Eighth, both 2011. Here is the Fourth: a most welcome addition to what I hope may be an ongoing series with the goal of eventually recording all the symphonies. I find the Accentus audio and video, as usual, exemplary, with particular praise for the camera team and their appropriate focus on instruments/groups, no gimmickry here but thorough knowledge of the score. As a bonus, the disk brings an introduction to the Welte-Mignon piano player/recorder apparatus and - an eerie but revelatory experience - Gustav Mahler's own recorded Welte-Mignon roll ghost-playing the final movement of the Fourth on the empty Gewandhaus stage in an amazing 7:39 minutes. An additional bonus (bravo, Accentus!) is Riccardo Chailly's 15+ minutes interview/monologue on interpreting Mahler's Fourth that eloquently presents highly intelligent insights on the music and, at the same time, illuminates the conductor's own growth in his approach to Mahler through the decades. Chailly speaks Italian (and makes me wish that I had a real grasp on this language), but the English subtitles convey the gist of his words pretty well. You may want to argue with the conductor about his term "neo-classical symphony" for the Fourth, but this appears to be a matter of definition. Chailly rightly propounds orchestral transparency as essential for the appreciation of Mahler's aesthetics and his extreme dynamics: this is exactly the hallmark of his own recent readings with the fabulous Gewandhaus musicians.

Now to the symphony. My good friend Clive Goodwin has termed Chailly's Mahler "bel-canto Mahler", and I could not agree more with his designation. Everything glows and flows, and there is an almost sublime beauty ever-present throughout the performance. And there is more: the stated tempi are taken almost verbatim (with the exception of the finale), from the first movement's "Bedächtig - nicht eilen" ("deliberate - don't hurry") at 16:50 through the appropriately spooky Scherzo with a brilliant solo part by concert master Frank-Michael Erben (sadly not credited, also superb in the 3rd movement) at 8:43. The Scherzo's "deconstruction of the Viennese Ländler" (Chailly) is followed by the symphony's highpoint, the slow 3rd movement ("Ruhevoll" at 19:47), beautifully played in what I consider the ideal tempo. The finale, "Sehr behaglich" ("very much at ease" at a fairly brisk 8:12), shows soprano Christina Landshamer at her youthful best and then brings the work to an almost inaudible conclusion. Throughout the performance, Chailly manages to pick up several seldom-heard details. The Gewandhaus musicians (with properly divided violins), both in solo/group play and in the tutti passages, give us their genuine Mahler sound, with all the proper portamenti, glissandi, eerie harmonies and sharp transitions. There are quite a few very good recordings of the Fourth to be had, but Chailly's shines out as one of the most inspired.
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on 23 September 2016
I prefer his previous recording, which was fascinatingly piquant. No like suprises here - a more 'natural' approach. But very acceptable
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