Perth Concert Hall
June 22, 2018

Had one cast an eye across the program for WASO’s Asher Fisch Conducts Mahler 4, the eclectic programming immediately stood out. Keeping true to his desire to ‘break the overture, concerto, symphony thing,’ Fisch instead opted for a string orchestra arrangement of a single Schubert string quartet movement, a collection of reimagined folk songs, and one of Mahler’s smallest and shortest symphonies.  Whilst innovative and refreshing in concept, the program was bound together by a series of recurring themes running throughout the works, making it all the more rewarding in practice.

After taking his place on the podium to greet the audience, clutching a microphone rather than a baton, Fisch explained that each piece explored the relationship between the smallest and biggest musical forms; the art song and the symphony. The ‘Andante con Moto’ from Schubert’s Death and the Maidenvaried a theme based on Schubert’s own 1817 lied of the same name. Similarly, the song Das himmlische Leben( The Heavenly Life) serves the basis for Mahler’s composition of his Fourth Symphony, subtly influencing each movement before appearing in full in the fourth movement. Meanwhile, Berio’s Folk Songs, functioning as both folk and art songs,...