Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Mahler: Symphony No. 4

Philharmonia Orchestra/Sarah Fox (soprano)/Sir Charles Mackerras

Signum Classics sigcd188

Recorded four years ago in the intimate venue of Queen Elizabeth Hall, and released now as a memorial tribute to Sir Charles, what could be more appropriate?

No histrionics, no attempt to prove anything, he relaxes into this vision of life finishing with a child's vision of Heaven, delivered without fuss by Sarah Fox.

Many people's favourite of Mahler's, might No. 4 thrive even more in these times of cuts and imposed austerity? Do audiences really demand the huge orchestras of Mahler's and of Shostakovich's biggest for a value-for-money night out, and will promoters to continue to be able to afford them? Maybe Shostakovich's little 9th will rise in the popularity stakes too?

Whatever, the 4th is perhaps the most welcome of Mahler's to the domestic hearth and this is a heart-warming account of it, whilst not eschewing the tensions which ruffle the calm, especially towards the end of the long, great slow movement.

Produced by Misha Donat (who provides many programme notes for Wigmore Hall) and successfully engineered in QEH by Tony Faulkner, this disc is one to be coveted.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See ClassicalSource's concert review: “This performance was inspired - - the innate humanity of this music that in other hands can come across as insincere. - - Each movement received wonderful care for the sentiment that lies behind the notes; the slow movement in particular was of a poise and serenity that was truly touching. The singing of Sarah Fox in the finale embellished the entire sense of naturalness that was enshrined in this memorable rendition, a triumph for the partnership of the Philharmonia Orchestra, on riveting form, and the venerable Mackerras.”

& The Guardian's review of this CD: - - No one thinks of Mackerras as a Mahler specialist, yet this account of the Fourth Symphony stands comparison with any currently available on disc - - the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London - - was clearly superb for recordings, for the sound on this disc is marvellously immediate and precise. Mackerras's performance has that vivid directness, too, almost astringent in the climaxes of the first movement, and using a daringly wide dynamic range in the spectral scherzo and the slow movement, as well as encouraging the strings to swoop and slide to heighten their effect. After them, the simplicity of the Wunderhorn finale, guilelessly sung by Sarah Fox, really comes like a comforting balm."