MAHLER: Symphony No. 4; Ruckert Lieder, Blu-ray (2009)

by | Jan 11, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

MAHLER: Symphony No. 4; Ruckert Lieder, Blu-ray (2009)

Lucerne Festival Orchestra/Claudio Abbado
Soloist: Magdalena Kozena
Director: Michael Beyer
Producer: Paul Smaczny
Studio: Euroarts 2057984 [Distr. by Naxos]

Video: 16:9 1080i Full HD Color

Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1, PCM Stereo
Subtitles: German, English, French

Length: 88 minutes

Rating: *****

This is one of the most translucent recordings of Mahler’s ultra-popular Fourth Symphony I have ever heard. Abbado coaxes chamber-like textures from his perceptive and enthusiastic Lucernians, holding back the big guns for rare moments, and even his massed textures have a clarity and refinement that might seem to some to lack the requisite power they have been used to in this work. I find it fascinating and perfectly agreeable. Abbado considers this work as a preamble in many ways to the Fifth, and its softer conflicts and more direct communicativeness are put across with admirable direction that serve as a perfect prelude to the more demonstrable work would which soon follow after this one. For a number of years now the conductor has been enjoying an astonishing second wind since his critical surgery and it seems reflective in all of his work, especially the video issues. His Beethoven with the Berlin Phil was astounding, and his Mahler show a penetrative depth that was absent from his earlier recordings; he has truly become perhaps the foremost Mahler interpreter alive today, the dean of the older generation of great conductors.

Kozena finds just the right vehicle to pair with this luscious reading of the Fourth in the often-overlooked and less-played Ruckert Lieder. She rarely displays the power of her voice that she is capable of here in these works of delicacy and soaring lyricism speaking of love, nature, and the need to retreat from the world. This is a perfect introduction to the symphony and a gentle breeze of fragrant sound from the hands of a master composer brought to life for us by a master conductor. The Blu-ray picture is superb—as are all releases in this series—and the sound vivid and clean. The orchestra plays like angels. Highly recommended.

— Steven Ritter

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