Mahler 4 was the first of his symphonies that I learned. An LA native, I was a senior in high school and a student member of the Pasadena Symphony. My mother was Concertmaster and the Conductor was the Pasadena Symphony's Music Director Richard Lert. I have memories of evening rehearsals - sitting in the back of the second violin section, watching Lert prepare the orchestra for performance and working hard to perfect my part. There was one passage in the Bass section in the third movement that Lert kept going over and over again, trying to get it to sound as he envisioned it. Somehow, the basses managed to get it right and we continued on.
I have no memory of the solo violin part that my mother played in the second movement. She never let on that the part posed challenges, as it required playing the movement on a second, specially tuned violin.
She always sounded great, no matter how difficult the music.
From this experience I remember falling in love with this symphony. To this day, it is the symphony I recommend newcomers to Mahler listen to first. The third movement is just magical to me, especially the from the ecstatic climax to the final peaceful moments leading into the last movement.