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About This Performance

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The unique sound of flutes and sleigh bells make the beginning of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony absolutely unforgettable. The second movement Scherzo depicts Freund Hein, the skeleton from German lore that plays the dance of death on his violin. The third movement is a solemn processional that leads us away from any trace of irony or parody, preparing us for the exquisite final movement in which a soprano describes a child’s naïve vision of heaven. Here is one of the verses:

Should a fast day come along,

all the fishes at once come swimming with joy.

There goes Saint Peter running

with his net and his bait

to the heavenly pond.

Saint Martha must be the cook.

After the final verse (“The angelic voices gladden our senses, so that all awaken for joy”), the symphony concludes with the softest sound of a low note on the harp.

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