Scherchen was one of the leading conductors in the middle part of the twentieth century, especially valued for his pioneering performances of the contemporary music of his time. He was essentially self-taught as a musician and became a violist in the Blüthner Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic when he was 16. In 1911 he was an assistant to Arnold Schoenberg in the preparation of Pierrot Lunaire for performance.
With Gustav Mahler, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has a very special relationship. The composer conducted the orchestra no less than 12 times and found in Amsterdam an understanding audience. Mahler's Fourth Symphony was premiered in Amsterdam by the composer, who conducted it twice, once before and once after the interval, so that the audience could get to know the work better. With this release, Mariss Jansons and the Concertgebouw orchestra add an impressive new chapter to the RCO’s recorded history of Mahler Symphonies.
On 23 October 1904, Gustav Mahler himself conducted the Concertgebouw Orchestra in his Fourth Symphony. The work was given twice during the concert, once before and once after the break! Since 1939 all chief conductors of the Concertgebouw Orchestra have made sound recordings of this cornerstone in the RCO repertoire. After Mahler's Second (RCO 17003), the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Daniele Gatti present the SACD edition of this beloved Fourth Symphony.
Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 is an incomprehensible wonder of music history, rigorously peculiar, disturbingly new, and timelessly modern. “Wie ein Naturlaut” (Like a sound of nature) is indicated above the first notes of the symphony. It is both the prelude and the key to his symphonic cosmos as a whole. Mahler captures this music of the world, transforms it into a symphony in the old, comprehensive sense of the word and uses it to create his masterpiece of harmony. Composed over the course of just a few months at the beginning of 1888 in Leipzig, this symphony is a true musical awakening. Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig bring Mahler’s sounds of nature to life in a riveting performance.