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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 8 March 2009
I can't remember where, but I recently came across a reference to this recording of Mahler's fourth symphony that suggested that it was worth a listen. I managed to track a copy down from a marketplace seller who sent it to me by return.

The fourth is Mahler's sunniest symphony and I have a few versions in my collection. From these, I most often listen to Gielen on Hanssler or Boulez on DG, so you can tell that I prefer the "modernist" type of conductor (well, most of the time). This performance was recorded in June 1988 by EMI for, I believe, the budget "Classics for Pleasure" label; my copy is on the EMI Eminence label, sponsored by a tobacco company.

The orchestra is the London Philharmonic conducted by the then rather young Franz Welser-Most. Felicity Lott is the soprano in the closing fourth movement.

My forgotten reference made mention of the slow speed of this performance. It's true:-

Boulez takes 15'17 in movement 1, Gielen 16'56, Welser-Most an astonishing 18'12!

Movement 2 is fastest with Boulez at 9'31, then Welser-Most at 10'06, followed by Gielen at 10'31.

Movement 3 (Ruhevoll) comes in at 20'00 under Boulez and a similar 20'54 under Gielen. Welser-Most ambles along at 24'35!!

The final movement rushes past in 8'12 under Gielen and 8'44 under Boulez. Welser-Most slouches along in 10'06.

So, you can see (hear?) that Welser-Most's performance is very slow; but I think it works quite well.

For anyone who loves this symphony, it is worth tracking down Welser-Most's 1988 recording in order to hear a different view of this often recorded work. Maybe this is the slowest modern recording?

Good sound from the Andrew Keener/Mike Clements EMI team all those years ago, perfunctory notes (none from the conductor); recommended.
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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