This is an oddly unsatisfying Mahler 4th. Abbado very wisely lets us hear Mahler's sensitive, chamber-like scoring and the Berliners play handsomely, but after the first few minutes of the first movement, we get the feeling that he's being fussy, and that we are getting Mahler-under-a-microscope. The work as a whole loses impact. Perhaps in the concert hall (this is a live performance) the specificity worked its magic and the listeners could feel a part of the process, but we, at home, somehow do not get the correct effect. The Adagio is beautifully played--Abbado adds extra drama but some quick accelerandi. The finale, with its beautiful soprano solo, is the worst work I've ever heard from Rene Fleming, who, in an attempt to sound innocent, as the score is marked, actually comes across as a teenaged brat simpering with pursed lips and a big voice she's trying to hide. There are a dozen better performances available--Barbara Bonney (with Chailly), Juliane Banse (with Boulez), to name two. Fleming also sings Alban Berg's Seven Early Songs quite handsomely and imbues each with an ear for both textual and musical nuance. --Robert Levine.