Mahler – Symphonie nr 4

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I have already written you that I am working on a major composition. Can you not understand that this makes demands on the entire personality, and that one often becomes so absorbed that one loses all contact with the outside world? And now imagine a work so great that the whole world is mirrored in it- one is, so to speak, an instrument upon which the universe plays. I have often explained this to you, and you must understand it if you have any understanding for me. You see, all who were to live with me have had to learn this. In such moments, I no longer belong to myself… I tell you that I often have an uncanny feeling at many a passage, when it seems to me as if I had not written it.

Mahler was a breed apart. Hard on those who loved him. This fourth symphony is the shortest and the most accessible he wrote. It also contains the absolute brilliant fourth part, on this record sung by Elly Ameling.

At the end of my school days I had the habit of walking to school. I could go on a bike, which was a lot faster, but I liked the slowness of walking. I guess it also allowed me to rest my mind. My love for walking comes from that time. I used a walkman (do I add a registered trademark thing here?) and carried one or sometimes two tapes. It was half an hour to walk, so I had time to listen.

And listen I did. I discovered my own music using the walkman. One of those was recommended to me: Mahlers fourth. It was this recording, taped from a record from the library. I listened to it over and over again. And what seemed like very difficult music at the start, slowly opened up for me. I learned to listen more closely, and to get more out of music by listening to it often.

In fact, it spoilt every other recording ever made of this work. This has become the standard for me, nothing else will do. I know every little note, every little detail of this. And now I’m listening to it on a better sound system than ever before, I can hear even more of this. Layers upon layers of beautiful sound from in my opinion one of the, if not best orchestra in the world. I am sitting next to the window, which is usually open. I have closed it so I can hear more.

This record is also a good example of how shitty, how absolutely terrible streaming services treat classical music. In classical music, you need more detail to find a piece. This recording has been made by Bernard Haitink at least five times in his career. Three of which were with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. All three of those were with a different singer. Try to find that on Spotify, or any other streaming service. And in this case, the recordings are easily distinguished by looking at the singer in part four, but what if there is no singer? Where can I find a reliable source of information about the year of recording?

Even a superb service like Roon failed to find this recording in the way it should. It was there, and I was able to find it, but you have to know it is there. If you don’t, it is lost. And with it, a beautiful experience.

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