Gustav Mahler completed his fourth symphony in 1901. Like his previous three “Wunderhorn” symphonies, it was based on texts from the German folk poems, Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth's Magic Horn). But the Symphony No. 4 is a particularly multidimensional work that bundles spirituality, mysticism, humor and love of nature into one big search for life's meaning; it ends with a poem, sung by a soprano soloist, describing a child's simple, gleeful vision of heaven. With its complex, bold orchestration and amazing tonal and emotional scope, the Symphony No. 4 is the perfect work to kick off “The Mahler Project,” the Los Angeles Philharmonic's tribute to the great German composer on the 100th anniversary of his death. Over the course of several weeks, Mahler devotee Gustavo Dudamel will lead both the L.A. Phil and Venezuela's Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in all of Mahler's symphonies, along with other works. The opening program also features two extraordinary singers: Swedish soprano Miah Persson in the Symphony No. 4 and baritone Thomas Hampson in Mahler's enchanting first foray into the world of lieder, Songs of a Wayfarer. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Fri.-Sat., Jan. 13-14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 15, 2 p.m.; Upbeat Live with Stephen Hefling one hour prior to concerts; $71-$183. (323) 850-2000,

Jan. 13-14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 15, 2 p.m., 2012

LA Weekly