Complete succes on all fronts ...
Pater Ecstaticus | Norway | 01/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Actually, this recording was my very first acquaintance with Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, and I think I (or anyone else?) could have done worse. A lot worse. Because this was my introduction to Mahler's 'Das Lied', for me it has always been some kind of a benchmark recording, even if it cannot be labelled as such when compared with the 'best' out there. But hey, what the heck, (being an amateur having had no musical training whatsoever and not being able to read music) I actually DO consider this recording one of the best, cherishing it as one of my best CD's! At least to me it really only does have strong points and no weaknesses (that I can detect).
First of all the orchestral playing. This is very balanced and clear, with a nice polish, with every instrument group given pride of place beside the other. The playing is powerful and piercing when needed, for example in 'Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde'. But also, when delicacy and contemplation is needed, for example in 'Der Einsame im Herbst', the orchestra acquits itself wonderfully, weaving delicate webs of well balanced musical textures. All in all, I would say the playing is nicely disciplined, but with a nice 'rounded' sound, helped no doubt by the beautifully balanced recording, which gives a nice sense of space but with all instruments clearly audible.
The singing to my ears is very sympathetic and warm. Very honest. Thomas Harper's voice - if not a 'Wunderlich' or a 'Seiffert' - has, for this listener, the right balance between lyricism and strength, singing all of his songs with clear and ringing voice and with a nice legato (a legato which also characterizes the orchestral playing overall, giving the music a nicely natural-sounding 'flow'). The mezzo Ruxandra Donose sounds nicely in touch with all of the complex and deep emotions she is supposed to express here, really singing all of her low notes with natural ease. Her voice never sounds forced and always natural. Her 'Der Abschied' is I think more warmly affecting than harrowing, and the same can be said of the orchestral playing, which to me makes this recording all the more enjoyable. This is not to say that all of the emotions are underplayed, on the contary! For example, the music between the third and fourth stanza (between '[...] Lebenstrunk'ne Welt!' and 'Er stieg vom Pferd [...]) is indeed laden with foreboding and sadness, with some beautifully deep Tam-Tam crashes.
So all in all one can never go wrong with this album. This is a truly fine Das Lied von der Erde, which IMHO can hold pride of place beside (and be considered even better than) many other more 'high-profile' recordings. The conception of the work here is somewhat lightweight, more flowing, without the gravitas of some of the other recordings out there, but there is beautiful and intelligent playing and singing here to make this a complete succes, I believe. IMHO, this is not to be missed by those who love Das Lied von der Erde!"
Excellent performance and great recording
Pater Ecstaticus | 07/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While I am not very familiar with this work by Mahler, I found the performance to be quite good - I thought the orchestra and singers performed very well, and neither overwhelmed the other. This was also a very good recording - everything is clear and a delight to listen to."