“Writing a symphony is the same thing as creating the world”, said Gustav Mahler, the Austrian composer and conductor. In fact, his Fourth Symphony in G major, one of his most popular symphonies, is precisely that. It is shorter than others, of lighter orchestration and written in just about traditional form. The symphony’s vivid orchestral gestures span from the most subtle to the most powerful. The instrumentation is an essential part of Mahler’s musical language, as is a particularly expressive phrasing, precise tempo and dynamic indications, and the use of unusual instruments (sleigh bells). The Fourth Symphony explores humanity’s eternal themes – death and immortality, good and evil. Here, good and evil are projected as harmony and disharmony. In creating a world of harmony, the composer turned to the past, to the style of Viennese classicists and to children folk songs. The composer himself described the mood of the work as follows: “… the serenity of another, more noble world, foreign to us, raising an incomprehensible fear”. Following the examples set by Beethoven, Berlioz, and Liszt, Mahler included vocal in his Fourth Symphony. In the finale of the Fourth Symphony, the song Das himmlische Leben (The Heavenly Life) reveals the vision of paradise through the eyes of a child. Mahler took the text from the 19th-century folk song collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Boy’s Magic Horn). The Symphony was premiered on November 25, 1901, under the direction of the composer himself.
Mahler’s heavenly symphonic opus is performed by the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, solo violin – Algimantas Peseckas. The soprano part (in the fourth movement) features opera soloist Sandra Janušaitė. The podium is graced by the Canadian Keri-Lynn Wilson, who enjoys invitations to conduct at various world opera houses.
ORCHESTRA: LITHUANIAN NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
CONDUCTOR: KERI-LYNN WILSON
SOPRANO: SANDRA JANUŠAITĖ