"This 1975 Das Lied came to CD in this same budget issue in 1986, where it has languished ever since. In all that time I've never seen it recommended, even in its price range-- very strange. Karajan was an acclaimed Mahler conductor, his orchestra plays stupendously well here, and his soloists are the incomparable Christa Ludwig and the very good Rene Kollo. Ludwig sings just as thrillingly as on her classic recording with Klemperer and the New Philharmonia on EMI, although she is not as closely placed, which removes a bit of emotional immediacy. Kollo, a variable artist at best, is no match for Fritz Wunderlich on that Klemperer recording, but he is in excellent voice and handles the fiendishly taxing tenor part much better than, say, John Mitchinson on the admired Horenstein reading (BBC) or James King for Bernstein (Decca) and Haitink (Philips).
Karajan's way with Mahler is smoother, less anguished or conflicted than many critics like, but he isn't glib or glossy--this is excellent, insightful conducting. I can't imagine why DG doesn't have more faith in this recording or why critics haven't discovered it. It's not as though Karajan is a hidden talent. After collecting Das Lieds from Rattle, Bernstein, Horenstein, Tennstedt, Kubelik, Giulini, Salonen, Sinopoli and Walter--the list goes on--I sitll rank this version almost as high as the Klemperer. Certainly no one has done it better since."
The Austrian composer Gustav Mahler penned down ("The Song of the Earth"), published in the autumn of 1907, as a large-scale work for two vocal soloists and orchestra. Set down in a preplanned pattern of six separate movements, each of them is an independent song. Das Lied von der Erde is described "A Symphony for One Tenor and One Alto (or Baritone) Voice and Orchestra. Mahler's abundant use of `Chinese' characteristics in the music represents a distinctive feature. Although Das Lied von der Erde has followed the 8th. Symphony yet Mahler did not number it as a symphony because of his superstitious fear of the purportedly "mortal significance" of a "ninth symphony". An awkward personal clash ensued in Mahler's psyche. According to Schoenberg , "" When Mahler wrote his Symphony No. 9 he thought he had baffled the curse, but died with his Tenth Symphony unfinished. (only the first movement of the Tenth was orchestrated at his death in 1911). From Mahler's point of view, the only two victims of this `'curse of the ninth'' legend had been Beethoven and Bruckner. In an essay about Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg wrote: "It seems that the Ninth is a limit. He who wants to go beyond it must pass away, as if something might be imparted to us in the Tenth which we ought not yet to know, for which we are not ready. Those who have written a Ninth stood too close to the hereafter." Karajan's beautiful interpretation brings us much closer to a song cycle. The work takes approximately sixty-five minutes in performance. Karajan has been able to embody Mahler's predicaments as if he had lived that period himself - when Mahler died, Karajan was a little over three years old, yet his conducting reflects Mahler's agonies -. First under pressure into resigning from his post as Director of the Vienna Court Opera due to political machinations within the administration (partially involving anti-Semitism credos ); next, Mahler's oldest daughter Maria died from scarlet fever and diphtheria; finally, Mahler himself was, incidentally and without prior planning, diagnosed with an innate heart defect. "With one stroke," Mahler wrote to his friend Bruno Walter, "I have lost everything I have gained in terms of who I thought I was, and have to learn my first steps again like a newborn".
Mahler and Karajan, at the end, have been able to translate the message, that is: ""since the beauties and mysteries of the earth renew themselves year after year, our own passing should not be feared but accepted calmly and without rancor. The earth, the world and nature goes on without us."" "
David Saemann | 07/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Karajan was a superb Mahler conductor, despite the fact that he was prohibited from conducting this music throughout the Nazi era. I felt that he delayed adding Mahler to his repertoire for a number of years due to the potential controversy of a former Nazi taking on a famously Jewish composer. Nevertheless, when he finally came to Mahler, he was on peak form. George Mendelssohn Bartholdy told me about hearing Klemperer conduct the Resurrection Symphony in Vienna, and seeing Karajan in the audience crying. There is no doubt that Karajan brought to Mahler an emotionality rare in his conducting life. Also, his mastery of the turn of the last century orchestral language, as evinced in his versions of Richard Strauss and the Second Viennese School, is very much in evidence here. You simply never have heard an orchestra play Das Lied so drop dead gorgeously, yet full of sensitivity and flexible tempos. The soloists are excellent, just about as good as they come. The analog sound has turned up very nicely on this reissue, if without the dyanmic range of digital. Karajan's Das Lied definitely goes on my list of those versions you must hear."
Fine perfomance, but DG's Galleria sound is rather harsh up
B. Guerrero | 08/14/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I found an inexpensive used copy of Karajan's "DLvdE", and the reviews given here made it a no-brainer as to whether I should pick it up or not. Indeed, this is a very good performance. Unfortunately, as with so many recordings from DG's back catalog, the rather harsh and shallow sounding "Galleria" sonics come close to ruining it. If DG were to remaster this, and then reissue on to their Originals series (or their even more recent Karajan series), I would gladly award this five stars. But all the same, this performance lives up to the high standards of Karajan's other Mahler recordings (love his 5th and 9th, but am not nearly so enthused over his 6th).
This recording was made in 1973 and/or '74. Karajan began performing "DLvdE" as early as 1970. Needless to say, the Berlin Phil. sounded highly polished by this point. As for Rene Kollo and Christa Ludwig, this was the second time that the two of them recorded "Das Lied" together, having recorded it in Tel Aviv with Leonard Bernstein two years earlier (Sony Classical). In fact, Kollo recording it again in 1972 for Georg Solti on Decca. By this time, Kollo was beginning to show some wear and tear in his first two numbers (first and third songs). But in the fifth song, "The Drunkard In Spring", Kollo really hit his stride. Frankly, his heldentenor antics are tailor made for this, the most poignant and somewhat bitter sounding song in the cycle. Ludwig would go on to record "DLvde" again in 1983 for Supraphon (Vaclav Neumann/Czech Phil.). I've yet to hear that particular recording, but am told that it's quite good.
Clocking in at slightly over 31 minutes, Karajan pours a lot of concentration and focus into the final song, "Der Abschied". He begins the central, funereal sounding orchestral interlude at a daringly slow speed. Yet, his Berliners never lose the tension over the entire duration. The large orchestral gong (tam-tam) is somewhat underplayed throughout this passage, but Karajan does deliver two spectacular smashes at the interlude's climax. He saved up, in other words. The ending passage of the work - the business about the earth blooming anew, and everything turning sky blue, etc. - is as beautifully done as one could hope for. Karajan has the celeste placed far forward in the recording's perspective, making one think of "Neptune" from Gustav Holst's "The Planets". While making an extremely brief appearance, the mandolin is quite forward too. Ludwig sings this final passage rapturously, and with plenty of reserve left in the tank as well. Good stuff.
"Das Lied von der Erde" is another Mahler work that has been incredibly lucky on disc. DG and the Berlin Phil. would go on to record yet another really good one ten years later with Brigitte Fassbaender and Francisco Araiza, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini. That one is equally as good."