- Um Mitternacht, song for voice & piano (or orchestra) in B minor (Rückert Lieder No. 4)
- Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder, song for voice & piano (or orchestra) in F major (Rückert Lieder No. 1)
- Liebst du um Schönheit, song for voice & piano in C major (Rückert Lieder No. 5)
- Shéhérazade, poems (3) for soprano (or tenor) & orchestra (or piano)
- Biblical Songs (Biblické písne) (10) for voice & orchestra, B. 189 (Op. 99)
- Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, song for voice & piano (or orchestra) (Rückert Lieder No. 3)
- Ich atmet' einen linden Duft, song for voice & piano (or orchestra) in D major (Rückert Lieder No. 2)
This album of three very different song cycles comes from a live 2012 recording Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozená made with the Berlin Philharmonic, led by Simon Rattle. It's a hugely successful recording by one the most multifaceted, expressive, and distinctive mezzo-sopranos of her time. From the first notes of Dvorák's "Biblical Songs," Kozená warm, limpid voice and lyrical phrasing envelop the listener. The "Biblical Songs" are relatively reserved, understated settings of selections from Psalms that highlight the deeply personal, passionate interior focus the singer is capable of evoking. The songs may not be overtly showy, but they put Kozená's dark amber tone and the velvety seamlessness of her delivery on full display. Ravel's "Shéhérazade" and Mahler's "Rückert Lieder" on the other hand give Kozená the opportunity to cut loose and soar ecstatically over the orchestra. In the Ravel she sings with an appropriately Gallic transparency. She brings a sound to the Mahler that is both solid and refined and there are many moments, such as at the ending of "Um Mitternacht" where her voice has a shimmering radiance. The three cycles are stylistically diverse but heartfelt emotion is at the root of each of them, and Kozená gives voice to those passions with nuanced tonal coloring and musically varied delivery. Her singing is matched by the lustrous playing of the Berlin Philharmonic. Rattle is a sympathetic collaborator and is acutely sensitive to the give and take between singer and orchestra, particularly in the sensuous rhythmic fluidity and timbral translucence of the Ravel. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is so clean, present, and well-balanced that it could easily be mistaken for a studio recording.