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Mahler: Orchestral Songs

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The Four Mahler Song Cycles in One Generous and Fine Album

    Any time there is a chance to hear the favored orchestra for Mahler - the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam - involved in performances of any of Mahler's four song cycles, it is a reason for rejoicing. Somehow the sound of this orchestra and Mahler were meant to be one. Add to this bit of good fortune the fine conducting of Bernard Haitink and a group of first class soloists and Voila! - an album of 2 CDs, modestly priced, and a must for every collector of Mahler's music. 'Das Lied von der Erde', that would-be 9th symphony of the paranoid superstitious Mahler, is one of his most powerful symphony of songs. Here it is given a warm and introspective performance by Dame Janet Baker (just try to find a more poignant 'Der Abschied') and James King in his prime. This is followed by a soulful 'Kindertotenlieder' this time rendered by a male voice - Hermann Prey - giving these five melancholic songs a special Mahlerian significance, paying homage to the Mahler's inspiration for composing them. Prey then segues into the youthful 'Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen': again one song in particular is glowingly memorable with Prey's interpretation - 'Die zwei blauen augen von meinem Schatz'. 'Lieder aus Des Knaben Wunderhorn' served Mahler well in providing melodies and songs for his first four symphonies and hearing the cycle sung with the grace and fun and dignity by Jessye Norman and John Shirley-Quirk plumbs the depths of Mahler's ongoing inspiration. Haitink offers the support and orchestral playing that fits these soloists like a glove. In all these are fine performances of these cycles, the binding thread being the same orchestra and conductor. Yes, we all have our favorite recordings of each of these works, but on the whole this album is difficult to match. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp

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