Of all the symphonies that Mahler wrote, the Fourth is the lightest and sunniest. The cheerful bells in the opening measures immediately evoke images of skipping horses for a sleigh. Also, Mahler, unlike what we are used to from him, is fine with a modest orchestra line-up. Not that the melancholic Mahler is completely absent - in the second part, for example, the violin plays a dance of death - but every time it gets dark, the sun breaks through quickly.
With the first three parts, Mahler takes a run-up to the climax of this symphony, the song Das himmlische Leben. In it he gives us a peek into the children's paradise where little angels frolic and laugh together. The sentences that the Australian soprano Eleanor Lyons sings are typical of the atmosphere of the symphony, for example: “We lead an angelic life, but also have fun. The angel choirs spoil the ears. Beautiful asparagus and dill and everything we want above. The deer and hares are grazing freely. The angels bake the bread. ”Many Mahler enthusiasts find this his most beautiful symphony.