Pinnock and Mahler?! Seeing these names side-by-side may provoke disbelief in many British music lovers, given that the veteran harpsichordist is known in the UK as a baroque specialist. But Pinnock has long pursued other interests elsewhere: this recording shows him to be well acquainted and at ease with the demands of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and the CD’s companion-piece, Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.
The interest for collectors lies in the chamber versions in which these performances are given, exquisitely, by an RAM ensemble of just 13 players. Both arrangements (the Mahler by Erwin Stein, the Debussy by Benno Sachs) were made for the Schoenberg-inspired Society for Private Musical Performances in Vienna in the aftermath of the first world war. And both capture a simplicity of timbre and colouring that goes to the essence of the music – unlike many symphony orchestra performances.
What they miss in fullness of sound, they gain in transparency and up-tempo crispness, with plenty of pianistic in-fill. Sónia Grané is the suitably fresh-voiced soprano in the finale of the Mahler.
Symphony No 4
Trevor Pinnock/Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble