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MAHLER: Symphony No. 4; Ruckert-Lieder - Kozená, Abbado, Lucerne Festival Orchestra (Blu-Ray DVD)

MAHLER: Symphony No. 4; Ruckert-Lieder - Kozená, Abbado, Lucerne Festival Orchestra (Blu-Ray DVD)

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The charismatic and inspiring Claudio Abbado and the magnificent mezzo-soprano Magdalena Koená, with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, hold the audience spellbound in this live recording from Lucerne Festival in Summer. Mahler's five Rückert-Lieder - in a profoundly moving and rapturously received performance - precede Mahler's sublime and deeply personal Fourth Symphony. This extraordinary work is executed with power, passion and sensitivity, with Magdalena Kozená giving a transcendent rendition of the final movement.

"There's no-one...who lifts the phrases so beguilingly (and without a baton) as does Abbado. You'll never see a first movement done with bigger smiles or more wide-eyed wonder, nor the poco adagio heaven inflected as artistically as here from the master's goodlooking love-in orchestra, filmed with ingenuity as always by Michael Beyer's camera team." -BBC Music Magazine****

"There are innumerable incidental beauties from all sections: the woodwind nothing short of sublime, the brass tactfully reticent, the strings perhaps most remarkable of all with their radiant pianissimos...Koená sings with consummate technical control and intellectual understanding...Here is profoundly affecting artistry which for once lives up to the hype." -Gramophone Magazine

"The most remarkable thing of all is the sense of intimacy that he achieves: this is Mahler conducting of the greatest insight, matched by playing of the highest quality, matched by pacing of the highest quality...I can't think of any other filmed performance of this symphony that I'd rather hear and watch...This is a DVD to cherish." -International Record Review

The cinematography, employing a plethora of camera angles, has been carefully thought out. It's obvious that the musicians find Abbado easy to follow. His motions are clear and economical, rather than a display of self-aggrandizing conductorial theatricality. It's remarkable how many of the instrumentalists are smiling as they play and not the least bit surprising that two female violinists embrace after the conclusion of the symphony; their pleasure with having participated in this musical event is palpable. Sonically, the spatial difference between stereo and the 5.1 multichannel is less pronounced than usual - and that's meant as praise for the two-channel option. The program is available on DVD as well as Blu-ray, though why you'd chose the former in this day and age is beyond me, so superior is the high-definition image with the newer format.

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