Adam Fischer conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra

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COMPOSERS: Mahler
LABELS: Avi-music
ALBUM TITLE: Mahler
WORKS: Symphony No. 4 Dusseldorf
PERFORMER: Symphony Orchestra/Adam Fischer
CATALOGUE NO: 8553378

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Iván is not the only Fischer with impressive Mahler recordings to his name. While Iván is now nearing the end of his version of the symphony cycle –the Hungarian conductor says he no interest in recording the Eighth – his brother Adam is just embarking on his Mahler series with the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra. The Seventh came out last year, and now he’s turned to what he describes as ‘Mahler’s Pastoral Symphony’ – the chamber-like Fourth.

And it’s a fascinating, detailed account. After those opening sleigh bells sprinkle their fairy dust, you immediately hear one of the most distinctive features of this performance – how the strings play the glissandos, which pepper the score. As Fischer explains in his liner notes, he’s paid special attention to how Mahler has notated them and the fingerings he’s marked – taking a little detour below the starting note before sliding up to the main note. Here they sound by turns slinky, sultry, sharp, sentimental, exaggerated, but above all evocative of the Viennese world in which Mahler was working.

It’s also the alternation between cataclysm and serenity that Fischer and his fine Dusseldorf musicians capture so well in this live account. On a micro-level, the plentiful rubato in the first movement suggests different moods, all jostling for attention, each imposing its own tempo and character. Jaunty tunes interrupt unstable elements, and vice versa. On a macro-level, the pacing is spot on. The build-up in the long Adagio is overwhelming, the glimpse of the depths and the arrival at Heaven’s gates superb. If Hanna-Elisabeth Müller’s soprano isn’t my ideal, the overall effect is magical.

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Rebecca Franks