Lied and symphony are inseparably connected in Gustav Mahler’s oeuvre. As early as 1923, his close friend, Willem Mengelberg, had already recognized the significance of the lied genre for Mahler: “The core of Mahler’s music is the folk song.” Indeed, numerous reciprocal links as regards both content and compositional structure can be found
in Mahler’s lieder and symphonies. In this context, Hermann Danuser spoke of “duality in art forms,” in which Mahler had “converged, indeed, transformed
and interwoven opposing poles […] into one another.” Peter Revers has even identified Mahler’s lieder as “the genetic code underlying his style of composition.”
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Wolfram Nehls, Erdo Groot
Erdo Groot, Lauran Jurrius, Jean Marie Geijsen
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|Release Date||July 7, 2017|
“With so many great studio and live recordings of Mahler’s three song cycles for solo voice readily available, any new contender has to offer something very special. On the new Pentatone Mahler Song Cycles, which is available as a hi-rez DSD download in both stereo and surround at NativeDSD Music, mezzo-soprano Alice Coote and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra under Marc Albrecht present interpretations of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), the five Rückert-Lieder (settings of poems by Friedrich Rückert), and Kindertotenlieder (Songs to Dead Children) that can stand up against those of, to mention only a few leading mezzo-sopranos/contraltos of the last 70 years.
The major difference between Coote’s recording and the many others lies in the recording and accompaniment. The manner in which they’ve placed Coote in the acoustic of NedPhO-Koepel, Amsterdam, and wrapped the orchestra around her, is unique in my experience. Sound may not have such a pearly sheen in most of the venues I’ve visited, and the orchestra may not cast its net around the voice as it does on this recording (even in two-channel), but the engineering makes Albrecht’s carefully considered orchestral commentary, and the beautiful playing of the Netherlands forces, equal partners in the recording’s success. The interplay between voice and instruments is revelatory.
Coote’s performance of the other two cycles (which really are cycles) is equally special. In just a few months, John Atkinson will be asking a host of Stereophile contributors to submit our 2017 “Records to Die For.” You now know what one of mine will be. After three Mahler recording reviews in a short period of time, I will likely refrain from more for a while. But I will just as likely carry Coote and Albrecht’s Mahler Song Cycles with me to shows, and listen to parts of it over and over. It is an artistic and sonic showcase worthy of repeated listening.”
“What makes Albrecht’s Mahler so unique? His approach has integrity, is intelligent and sensitive … Albrecht leads the Mahler that makes you love Mahler.”
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