SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

MAHLER: Symphony No. 4 in G Major – Lisa Della Casa, soprano/Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner – RCA Living Stereo multichannel (3 channels) SACD

Though not a Mahler specialist, Reiner brings us an acoustical marvel of an interpretation

Published on August 12, 2005

MAHLER: Symphony No. 4 in G Major – Lisa Della Casa, soprano/Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner – RCA Living Stereo multichannel (3 channels) SACD
MAHLER: Symphony No. 4 in G Major – Lisa Della Casa,
soprano/Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner – RCA Living Stereo
multichannel (3 channels) SACD 82876-67901-2  55:37****:

Utilizing RCA’s three-track stereo recording techniques for
multichannel, this 1958 reading of the Mahler Fourth by Fritz Reiner
(1886-1963) is simply a gorgeous example of what modern audiophile
definition can do for historic performances. While not deemed a Mahler
specialist, Reiner made two impressive recorded incursions into this
music, with the G Major Symphony and The Song of the Earth. Alternately
admired and despised by fellow musicians, Reiner was an exacting
taskmaster on the podium; but he could elicit vibrant and splendid
effects from his Chicago players, everywhere in evidence in this
acoustical marvel of a CD.

Horns, bells, winds, strings, brass, and triangle seem to emerge from
every space in the listening area.  The scordatura (tuned up a
semi-tone) violin suggesting Death’s eerie presence, in the rocking
second movement, adumbrates Death’s ambiguous triumph in the last
movement lyric from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, which juxtaposes a heavenly
feast with heavenly slaughter. Mahler had written the symphony in
reverse, having planned the last movement as part of his pantheistic
Third Symphony. The massive Ruhevoll third movement gathers into itself
Mahler’s cosmic sense of inner and outer space, to which the Chicago
Symphony responds with transparent wafting colors. While my own
predilection for Teresa Stich-Randall in the solo part often clouds my
listening to others’ versions, I must confess that Lisa Della Casa
brings her own youthful sweetness to a lilting realization of Mahler’s
eccentric vision of bliss. DSD engineer Dirk Sobotka has a showcase
album in this restoration, to which Mahler acolytes should listen with
rapt and mesmerized pleasure.

–Gary Lemco




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