The magic of childhood inspired Gustav Mahler’s most intimate and lovable symphony which traces a journey from the worldly life to an innocent heavenly one, painted in the bright colours of folk-art.
Lucid and transparent, the Fourth is the perfect introduction to Mahler’s wondrous symphonies – it is a short story rather than an epic.
The sound of sleigh-bells ushers into a mysterious place, both beautiful and sinister. ‘Imagine the uniform blue of the sky,’ Mahler wrote, ‘Occasionally…it darkens and becomes phantasmagorical and terrifying’. Death himself fiddles in the danse macabre of the second movement, before an adagio of serene calm transports us heavenward.
In the radiant finale the soprano sings of the celestial life where ‘there’s no music at all on the earth / Which can ever compare with ours’. Mahler’s comes close.