Peter Manning / Heather Jamieson / Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Chamber Ensemble

Mahler: Symphony No. 4 (Arranged by Klaus Simon)

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Perhaps the best-known chamber version of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 in G major is Erwin Stein's 1921 arrangement for Arnold Schoenberg's Society for Private Musical Performances, which has appeared on several recordings and become quite popular with small ensembles. However, Klaus Simon's 2007 chamber version has been recorded by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Peter Manning, and it offers an alternate version of Mahler's most neo-classical symphony. Simon has worked as an arranger for Universal Edition/Wien, and his transcriptions of Mahler and Schoenberg have gained adherents, though his take on the Fourth doesn't differ dramatically from Stein's, for both employ similar instrumentation and accurately convey the spirit of the music. In any event, this is an engaging performance with a cheerful Viennese attitude, and the musicians play with a light touch that emphasizes the rhythmic bounce and bright colors of the music. The highlight of the symphony is the finale, "Wir genießen die himmlischen Freuden," which soprano Heather Jamieson performs with the gentleness and humor that makes this one of Mahler's most charming Wunderhorn songs. The sound of the recording is quite good for the instruments, but Jamieson's voice is a little distant in the mix.

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