I just got Kenneth Slowik's recent recording of Edwin Stein's reduction of the Mahler 4th symphony on Dorian. The performing forces are the Smithsonian Chamber Players and the Santa Fe Pro Musica, with Christine Brandes singing the last movement.
I think it's a wonderful performance in the most interventionist way. There's lots of rubato and portamento everywhere, but integrated very well into the music so it sounds like a natural part of the music, instead of a gratuitous special effect like other recordings I've heard. From the liner notes, it's apparent that the performers are die-hard Mahler enthusiasts, and fans of Mengelberg and his performance style, and this comes through very clearly in the recording from the very first notes. The main quartet strings are 4 gut-strung Amatis from the Smithsonian's collection, including what they claim is the best-sounding viola in existence! Interestingly, the scordatura violin (the off-tuned violin in the third movement) is a modern violin with steel strings for added contrast.
The result is lots of orchestral color (apparent from the very first notes), and moments that are so concentrated and still (like the opening of the third movement) that the feeling of time is very different than what the otherwise pedestrian timings would indicated (I 17:00, II 8:34, III 21:05, IV 9:28). Even the last movement is different in that it's definitely not a child's take on what heaven would be like.
The recorded sound, especially decoded on an HDCD DAC, is very good, giving a slightly closer perspective, which seems appropriate for a chamber group. The coupling is Schoenberg's reduction of LefG, which is interesting for its singing by a near contralto, Susan Platts.
Anyone else hear this recording?