The Fourth Symphony of Gustav Mahler stands apart from his others for a number of reasons. This is his "sunny" symphony; it is filled with delicate harmonies, a catchy ornamented rhythmic pattern, and it has an almost pastoral feel to it. While scored for large orchestra, it comes off as a chamber work. The last movement, with its soprano solo "Wir geniessen die himmlischen Freuden" from 'Des Knaben Wunderhorn,' talks of heaven from a child's innocent perspective.
This recording from 1960 features the preeminent Mahler interpreter of the twentieth century, Leonard Bernstein along with the New York Philharmonic, joined by the radiant soprano Reri Grist in the last movement. One could not ask for a better ensemble of players. Indeed, there are times when Bernstein seems to take off (if not fly into orbit) with the tempi, but his innate understanding of this music cannot be argued. Grist, a great singer at the height of her artistic powers, sings perfectly. A beautifully remastered and essential recording.