Carolyn Sampson / Osmo Vänskä / Minnesota Orchestra

Mahler 4

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Mahler 4 Review

by Blair Sanderson

Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra continue their critically praised series of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler with this 2019 BIS release, and true to past results, this hybrid SACD of the Symphony No. 4 in G major is another stunner. Easily the lightest and happiest symphony in the cycle, even more than the vernal Symphony No. 3 in D minor, the Fourth is an easy introduction to Mahler's music, and newcomers getting acquainted with him often start here, before plunging into the darker depths of his later symphonies. Vänskä has had a strong relationship with this orchestra since 2003, and they have not only recorded a substantial portion of Mahler's symphonic output already, but they have also issued complete recordings of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, Carl Nielsen, and Jean Sibelius, demonstrating a high level of competence in this genre and a commitment to large-scale, long-term projects. Soprano Carolyn Sampson joins the ensemble in the finale, a setting of "Das himmlische Leben" from the poetry collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn, and her sparkling interpretation transports the symphony from the realm of child-like wonder to a place of ethereal calmness and peace. The recording was made at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, and the combination of 5.0 surround sound and exceptional acoustics gives the music great clarity, depth, and richness.

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