Elizabeth Watts / Marc Albrecht / Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 4

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In what appears to be an auspicious beginning of a Mahler symphony cycle, Marc Albrecht and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra offer the Symphony No. 4 in a deluxe audiophile presentation that's sure to build anticipation for a full set. (This hybrid SACD follows the 2013 release on PentaTone of Das Lied von der Erde, which is the actual starting point for Albrecht's Mahler, though that masterpiece is seldom included with the numbered symphonies.) This is an engaging performance with charming singing by soprano Elizabeth Watts in the joyous vocal finale, "Wir genießen die himmlischen Freuden," and the orchestra's playing is imbued with the playfulness and childlike fantasy that have made this one of Mahler's most popular works. The multichannel recording captures the delightful magical quality of the orchestration, from the scintillating sleigh bells of the opening measures to the soothing harp ostinato that closes the symphony, and every detail is wonderfully clear and contributes to the work's vibrant and colorful atmosphere. Highly recommended.

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