- Kindertotenlieder, song cycle for voice & piano (or orchestra)
- Rückert Lieder, song collection for voice & piano (or orchestra)
- Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, song cycle for voice & piano (or orchestra)
There are plenty of recordings of these three Mahler song cycles, but this one by mezzo-soprano Alice Coote stands out from the crowd. It may seem extreme, but it might equally be regarded as simply having the kind of direct emotional commitment that classical performances used to have before the genre got too decorous. A symphonic counterpart might be Leonard Bernstein's Mahler recordings, and one guesses that Mahler would have loved both. Coote is really powerful in the "Kindertotenlieder," the Songs of Dead Children, and she's one of the few singers who really enter into the texts of Rückert. She can blaze in the higher ranges and take it down to an extremely uncanny echolike effect in the midrange: sample "Ging heut' morgen über's Feld," the piece that furnished the thematic material for the first movement of the "Symphony No. 4 in G major," starting about three and a half minutes in, when Coote seems to fade into the background. Conductor Marc Albrecht keeps the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra largely out of Coote's way, although all the details are there, and are captured by Pentatone's precise engineering. A fine set of Mahler song cycles.