Listening and Seeing (and Mahler)
Three things led me to post this recording. One is that this piece (though not this performance) was one of the late Harry Kroto’s selections for Desert Island Discs. Another is that I had occasion to sort out my CD collection recently and I realised in doing so that I had more recordings of this Symphony than any other. And the third is that I heard a discussion on Radio 3 recently in which a record company executive noted that while sales of opera performances on DVD were very healthy, it was very difficult to sell DVDs of symphonic concerts. I am not particularly surprised by that but I have to say that I love the visual as well as the auditory experience of a classical concert. A large group of talented people coming together to make music is a great thing to watch, and it also helps understand the music a bit too. I’d much rather go to a live concert (even a mediocre one) than listen to a CD (even a very good one), but failing that I’d definitely go for a DVD.
All of this provides an excuse to show this film of the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Leonard Bernstein playing the gorgeous third moment (marked Ruhevoll) of Symphony No. 4 in G Major by Gustav Mahler. My favourite recording of this symphony is actually by Von Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammophon, but this is well worth watching to see the communication between Lenny and the band. And if you think Mahler is always gloomy and angst-ridden, hopefully this will make you change your mind.