Andrew Davis

Mahler: Symphony No.4; Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen

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George Szell is not considered a major Mahler conductor -- his recordings were too few and his participation in the revival of the 1960s too occasional to be influential -- yet he gave a remarkable performance of the Symphony No. 4 in 1965, which Sony has reissued in its Essential Classics line. The overtly Classical features of this work no doubt recommended it to Szell, a legendary conductor of Haydn and Mozart. The Cleveland Orchestra responded warmly to this symphony, and its sound is vibrant and rich, even though Columbia's recording is limited in its frequency range. Judith Raskin's radiant singing in the finale, "Wir genießen die himmlischen Freuden," adds luster to this recording and ensures it a place among the most endearing performances available. Frederica von Stade's emotive performance of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, with Andrew Davis conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra, is provided as complementary filler. Although these songs are more often paired with Mahler's Symphony No. 1 for the obvious musical correlations, they have enough commonality with the Symphony No. 4, particularly in their sense of wonderment, to warrant inclusion. The recorded sound of the Lieder, dating from 1978 and engineered by EMI, is noticeably fuller than that of the symphony and requires a slight adjustment of volume.

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