Miah Persson / Gustavo Gimeno / Orchestre philharmonique du Luxembourg

Mahler: Symphony No. 4; Nicht zu schnell

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Among the most popular of Gustav Mahler's symphonies is the Symphony No. 4 in G major, which was composed between 1899 and 1900, though the Wunderhorn song he used as the finale, Das himmlische Leben, was composed in 1892. This symphony holds a special attraction because of its lighthearted moods, radiant orchestration, and tuneful evocation of Classical style with a strong Viennese lilt. For this 2018 release on PentaTone, conductor Gustavo Gimeno, soprano Miah Persson, and the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg deliver a sparkling rendition that is enhanced by the hybrid SACD multi-channel format, which captures the ensemble's sumptuous timbres and the subtle play of inner parts in the many chamberlike sections. In terms of pacing and expression, this performance is consistent with most mainstream recordings, though the highly detailed and spacious audiophile reproduction is superior to most, thanks to PentaTone's first-class engineering. Listeners may find Colin Matthews' Nicht zu schnell, an orchestral arrangement of Mahler's only movement for his Piano Quartet in A minor, somewhat less appealing than the symphony, not merely because it's an early work that shows little of Mahler's mature character, but also because the dark orchestration and fairly Wagnerian textures don't add much value to the original composition.

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