Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Thomas Hampson, Gustav Mahler, Klaus Tennstedt|
Mahler: Songs of a Wayfarer; Symphony No. 1
Genres: Pop, Classical
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Excellent Live Tennstedt Mahler Performances from The Proms
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 07/31/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Klaus Tennstedt is a Mahler conductor about whom opinions can be fiercely divided. There are those who decry his emotionality, and those who love it. I fall in the latter camp. These two performances are from London Proms concerts -- 1985 (Symphony) and 1991 (Songs) -- recorded live by the BBC and just now being released for the first time on the fairly new LPO label, the London Philharmonic's own label. Indeed it is only the twelfth of their releases and they are indeed worthy.
Thomas Hampson had recorded the 'Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen' ('Songs of the Wayfarer') early in his career with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. That performance seemed a bit underdone to me; rather, it appeared to me that Bernstein rather overpowered Hampson. This performance, however, is mature and ravishing. Mahler wrote his own texts, presumably in response to a love affair with a singer than had not gone well, and the overall tenor of the songs is sad or at least reflective, with the exception of the beginning of the second song where the finch says to the traveler, 'Isn't it a good morning ... a wonderful world?' to which the wayfarer responds 'No, my happiness can never bloom.' Hampson, that healthiest and most American of singers, sings the finch's optimism convincingly but, better, he conveys the wayfarer's despair equally well. The end of the fourth song 'Die zwei blauen Augen' is both heart-breaking and gently inspiriting. This is a masterful performance by Hampson, matched by a virtuosic performance by the LPO.
I have to admit that it had been probably a couple of years since I had listened to a performance of Mahler's First Symphony, and in hearing it here in this electric live performance by Tennstedt and the LPO I was struck anew with what a marvelous work it is. I know there are probably better recorded performances overall -- Horenstein, Kubelik and Bernstein come to mind -- but coming back to the symphony after such a hiatus I was again reminded what a marvelous first symphony it is, one in which Mahler broke all the rules and created a sui generis work of real power. Tennstedt's emotionality is evident throughout, although the third movement seems slightly automatic in tone (and there are some momentary tuning problems with the 'Bruder Jakob' entry). The LPO brass really outdo themselves in the Stürmisch bewegt fourth movement. One finds oneself dodging the lightning strikes!
I don't know that I would recommend this recording as an only Mahler First, but I was extremely impressed with Hampson's 'Wayfarer Songs' and find it very nearly the equal of Thomas Quasthoff's recent lauded set under Boulez which also has the additional merit of Anne Sofie von Otter's touching 'Kindertotenlieder.'