Magazine article Gramophone

Mahler

Magazine article Gramophone

Mahler

Article excerpt

Mahler [G]

Symphony No 4

Hanna-Elisabeth Muller sop

Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra / Adam Fischer

AVI-Music (F) AVI8553378 (57 * DDD)

Recorded live at the Tonhalle Dusseldorf, November 17-21 2016

Adam Fischer launched his Dusseldorf Mahler cycle with an accomplished and individual account of the nighthawkish Seventh Symphony. I commented at the time that his brother Ivan should be looking over his shoulder. More so now. This Fourth is even better. Its Wunderhorn playfulness offsets a knowing old-world charm where phrases turn on a sixpence and all manner of characterful nuance lifts it out of the commonplace.

I love that all the Mahlerian exaggerations and heightened contrasts are in almost wilful defiance of the finesse of the reading. The work's childishness and petulance is an integral part of it and pulling these excitable flights of fancy out of the bag can only be achieved by super-responsive playing. The intricacy of detail here (balance, phrasing, dynamics) makes even the familiar sound new and unexpected. And taking Mahler at his word, edging him out of even his comfort zones, is the key to rekindling its newness. There is a clear trust and mutual respect between Fischer and his Dusseldorf Symphony and not one bar--in marked contrast to the recent Gergiev/Munich account (11/17)--is taken for granted.

As I write I am recalling the pungency of the first-movement climax whose exuberance really is infantile and whose raucousness is dominated by the noisiest child of all--the E flat clarinet--pinging through at the top of its voice. Likewise the sour fiddler of the second movement's spooky dance of death egged on by the spiky klezmer-band clarinet and an awkward bassoon lumbering into the Trio section.

The eiderdown of strings at the start of the slow movement surprises by virtue of the fact that Fischer keeps the sound inward and intimate. …

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