Composers have written individual symphonies as good as any of Beethoven's symphonies but, in my opinion, the only person to have got anywhere near to his consistent excellence is Gustav Mahler. I have enjoyed his music for almost as long as I have enjoyed the music of Beethoven and when I am in the mood for something symphonic and complex (with a bit more to get my teeth into) I will put a Mahler CD in preference to a Beethoven one. My favourite Mahler symphony is number four but I had never come across a recording of it with which I have been satisfied with the playing, and production of, all four movements until I bought this new version last week.

The sound is completely sumptuous and really emphasises this symphony's claim to being one of the great romantic works of all time. Furthermore, Rosemary Joshua's performance in the fourth movement is exactly how I want the singy bit to be sung. I just cannot praise Herreweghe's interpretation highly enough and I bet he's well chuffed with himself, as well, as he has achieved exactly what he set out to achieve.

FROM THE BLURB: After a 30 year-long partnership with harmonia mundi, Philippe Herreweghe has founded his own label, PHI, coproduced with Outhere. For his first CD, he presents Mahler s Fourth Symphony. Under the leadership of Philippe Herreweghe, l Orchestre des Champs-Élysées has been striving, for almost twenty years, to attain an idiomatic style and forgotten colours. This Fourth Symphony by Mahler, interpreted on period instruments, champions resolutely modern aesthetics, far from standard interpretations. Beyond the sumptuous colours of l Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, beyond the meticulous work on the musical score, this recording confirms Herreweghe's intimacy with the world of the Viennese composers of the turn of the century.

Here are the first and fourth movements. Those of you who are into this sort of thing are going to really enjoy this. At least, I'm pretty confident you will.




  1. Wow! Thanks, MP! Rosemary Joshua is great! I’ve only heard her sing Handel. She was especially memorable in Semele, very sexy and her voice was fantastic! I’ll have to look for more.

  2. Interesting but not my idea of Mahler. Too light a touch for my taste. I have to admit to a preference for No. 6 anyway, but find this soloist has a vibrato which for me spols the clean vocal line.
    Possibly the computer is not the best medium for comparison.
    Thanks for the chance to hear it anyway.

  3. Sure hope it helps you.

    It certainly does. I have just received my first commission cheque from Amazon. Just in time for Christmas. I will be spending it on Mrs MP’s present.

  4. Oh, oh, oh. How wonderful. There’s an amazing purity to this performance that I’m not used to.

    By the way, the most exciting interpreter of Mahler to hit the scene in recent years is Gustavo Dudamel, the dynamite young conductor from Venezuela.

    I must say, I miss performing Mahler. I don’t really miss much else. But there’s just nothing like being in the middle of the HUGE symphony orchestra required for Mahler and being completely immersed in that sound. Truly nothing like it.

    I’d say the Fourth is my second favorite – my favorite being the First, actually — probably because Mahler used so much material from his earlier “Songs of the Wayfarer”.

  5. Yes, me too. Mahler really knew how to write for the voice.

    Do you know “Das Lied von der Erde”? Luscious. And then there’s the “Kindertodenlieder”. Heart breaking but utterly beautiful.

  6. Oh, yes, Ellie! I sang the Wayfarer cycle on my Senior Recital in 1968. I absolutely loved it, especially the one that started out “Ich hab ein gleuend Messer in meine brust!” My spelling may be off, but the image of that ‘knife in the breast’ and the exclamation ‘o weh, o weh, in meine brust!’ was perfectly illustrated by the accompaniment!

  7. I’ve been trying to sit down and get a spare moment to listen to this for days and I still haven’t and won’t tonight or tomorrow, or the night after, and now my comment is so late no one will even see it. However I just wanted to say that I have seen Rosemary Joshua sing in a performance of Handel’s Belshazzar and she was fabulous. And I love Mahler, and think Das Lied von der Erde and Kindertotenlieder are gorgeously beautiful.

    So, thank you, MP. I’ll listen to it at some point, I promise.