Helmut Wittek, soprano. Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam. Leonard Bernstein, conductor.
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Mahler's most accessible symphony opens with a first movement that recreates an Old World Bohemian landscape, "a ray of light upon the meadow" in the composer's words. The entire symphony is built around a single song, "Das himmlische Leben" from the song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn ("The Youth's Magic Horn"). It is prefigured in various ways in the first three movements and sung in its entirety by a soprano in the fourth. This Bernstein Mahler cycle was released in the late 1980s.
"Bernstein's Mahler interpretations have an extraordinary power."—Washington Post