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Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Lieder
see track listing below review
Christian Gerhaher (baritone)
Gerold Huber (piano)
rec. 3-4 January, 13-14 April 2009, Großer Saal der Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Munich, Germany
Full texts with English translations
BMG RCA RED SEAL 88697567732 [75:52]

Christian Gerhaher is one of the foremost Lieder singers of his generation and with a number of successful Schubert recordings has probably taken over Fischer-Dieskau’s mantle. In March 2013 I attended a performance in Munich of the Britten War Requiem with the Chor und Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under Mariss Jansons. Gerhaher was one of the three soloists and although English is not his first language, unlike the other two singers, he stood out clearly and gave a quite superb account of himself.
 
All of Mahler’s Lieder are high quality and a number are masterworks of the genre. For this RCA Red Seal release Gerhaher has selected twenty from four collections. The deeply committed Gerhaher is in his element. He certainly makes a strong emotional connection to the text and it feels as if he is actually living the words. With superb diction, his firm, attractive voice takes on a golden timbre. At certain points as in my favourite, the gloriously moving Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen when he reaches into his high register, his voice sounds as if it is floating on air. In the opening song Rheinlegendchen we encounter cheery sentimentality and in Ging heut morgen über's Feld the joy of nature is unmistakable. The depth of grief that Gerhaher conveys in Die zwei blauen Augen is memorable and in the wonderful love song Um Mitternacht he delivers a powerful intensity especially with the words Hab' ich die Macht In deine Hand gegeben! The magnificent melody and affectionate text to Liebst du um Schönheit is quite beautifully sung as is the powerful emotional content of the final Urlicht. Throughout Gerhaher receives highly sympathetic support from pianist Gerold Huber - they make a sterling team.
 
Those looking for other recommendable recordings of Mahler Lieder with piano might wish to obtain the 2006 Stoke D’Abernon accounts from Christianne Stotijn (mezzo-soprano) and Julius Drake (piano) on Onyx 4014; it’s the one I reach for first. Also there is Fischer-Dieskau in five of Des Knaben Wunderhorn Lieder with accompanist Karl Engel from 1959 Berlin on Deutsche Grammophon ‘The Originals’ 477 9375. This is coupled with the orchestral song-cycles Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Kindertotenlieder and four Rückert Lieder. Another admired pairing involves Angelika Kirchschlager (mezzo-soprano) and Helmut Deutsch (piano) who have released two recordings of Mahler Lieder. Their first is from Eisenstadt in 1996 on Sony SK 68344 (c/w Korngold, Alma Mahler Lieder) and the second an all-Mahler release from Raiding in 2009 on Quinton Q-1001-2.
 
For RCA Red Seal these two artists have been splendidly recorded. There is an interesting essay by Gerhaher in the booklet and full texts with English translations are provided.
 
Be aware: this is sheer enjoyment from start to finish. This disc deserves the highest possible praise.
 
Michael Cookson

Track Listing

1. Rheinlegendchen [3:27]
2. Ich ging mit Lust [4:44]
3. Frühlingsmorgen [2:07]
4. Ablösung im Sommer [1:48]
5. Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht? [2:10]
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen:
6. I. Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht [4:04]
7. II. Ging heut morgen über's Feld [4:25]
8. III. Ich hab' ein glühend Messer [3:24]
9. IV. Die zwei blauen Augen [5:23]
10. Zu Straßburg auf der Schanz [4:28]
11. Das irdische Leben [2:54]
12. Nicht wiedersehen [3:56]
13. Phantasie [2:35]
14. Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen [7:08]
Fünf Lieder nach Texten von Friedrich Rückert:
15. I. Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder [1:23]
16. II. Ich atmet' einen linden Duft [2:17]
17. III. Um Mitternacht[6:26]
18. IV. Liebst du um Schönheit [2:05]
19. V. Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen [5:53]
20. Urlicht [5:15] Masterwork Index: Rückert Lieder

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