Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn

Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn

by Claudio Abbado
     
 

It takes more than a pretty voice to sing Mahler's music. The singer must be able to express extreme emotions -- from angry despair to transcendent tenderness -- without affectation or operatic histrionics. The songs from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" (The Youth's Magic Horn), with their folksy, sometimes sentimental qualities, also require an abundance of humor and charm.… See more details below

Overview

It takes more than a pretty voice to sing Mahler's music. The singer must be able to express extreme emotions -- from angry despair to transcendent tenderness -- without affectation or operatic histrionics. The songs from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" (The Youth's Magic Horn), with their folksy, sometimes sentimental qualities, also require an abundance of humor and charm. Anne-Sofie von Otter and Thomas Quasthoff give a brilliant performance of these songs that rivals the classic recording by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (EMI). Like its predecessor, dignity is the hallmark of this more recent interpretation. In "Der Tamboursg'sell" (The Drummer Boy), for example, Quasthoff portrays a soldier being led to the gallows. And while his characterization is sadly sympathetic, there's also an underlying nobility that only makes the boy's plight more heartbreaking. Von Otter is just as powerfully affecting in "Das Irdische Leben" (The Earthly Life), dramatizing the plight of a hungry child and her helpless mother with hard-hitting emotional bluntness. The orchestra is no mere accompanist in this music, of course, and the Berlin Philharmonic plays superbly for Claudio Abbado, adding an appropriate bite to its usual dark, plush sound. Listen to the rugged swagger of the playing in "Revelge" (Reveille). DG provides sound that's both immediate and atmospheric, with perfect balance between the voices and orchestra.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Jim Svejda
It is Thomas Quastoff's singing in Claudio Abbado's Deutsche Grammophon recording of Des Knaben Wunderhorn that makes this one of the finest available recordings of Mahler's enchanting cycle. The rhythmic swagger that the baritone brings to the military songs is altogether exhilarating, as is the droll wit with which he infuses "Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt" and "Lob des hohen Verstandes." Predictably, mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter is equally marvelous, especially in her wonderfully teasing version of "Verlorne Müh'" and her ethereally pure "Urlicht." Unlike virtually all other recorded versions of Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Abbado follows the composer's own performing practice, using only one voice per song instead of the usual custom of turning several of them into duets. Inspired, no doubt, by his excellent soloists, Abbado turns in one of his best Mahler recordings in years: Each individual song is allowed to unfold in the most completely natural way, while the Berlin Philharmonic misses no detail of Mahler's rich and subtle orchestration -- nor, for that matter, do the DG engineers. If you're looking for the most satisfying digital Wunderhorn, then look no further than here.
New York Times - James R. Oestreich
...treasurable as much for the committed and highly charged playing of the orchestra as for the characterful singing of the baritone Thomas Quasthoff.
Gramophone
A finely balanced recording places the voices in ideal relationship with the orchestra which itself is given a well-aired, clean sound... It supports a performance that is predictably...shipshape in execution, nothing in Mahler’s highly original scoring overlooked.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/15/1999
Label:
Deutsche Grammophon
UPC:
0028945964621
catalogNumber:
459646
Rank:
73511

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Lieder aus Des Knaben Wunderhorn, songs (12) for voice & piano (or orchestra): Revelge  - Gustav Mahler  - Claudio Abbado  - Thomas Quasthoff  - Anne Sofie von Otter  -  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

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