Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 is the “most appealing and accessible of his symphonies,” but also displays the darker side of the Austrian composer, said Hugh Canning in the London Times. The four-movement work may end with a soprano solo representing a “child’s version of paradise,” but “the devil asserts himself” in the scherzo’s violin solo. And more often than not, the “inevitable Mahlerian angst” breaks in and domineers the piece. “Unlike some heavy-duty Mahlerians, Ivan Fischer and his wonderful Budapest band don’t overplay the nightmarish episodes.” Instead, the Hungarian conductor “lingers on exquisite instrumental detail” without halting the music’s momentum. He gently guides soprano Miah Persson, who sounds “angelic in the finale.”
Fischer treats this symphony as chamber music, which “won’t appeal to those who like a high decibel count in Mahler,” said Tim Ashley in the London Guardian. But they will appreciate the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s playing, which is “exceptional in its dark-hued subtlety.” For that reason alone, this recording comes “highly recommended.”
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