Gustav Mahler's Symphonies: Critical Commentary on Recordings since 1986

By Lewis M. Smoley | Go to book overview

DAS LIED VON DER ERDE
Movements:
1. Das Trinklied Von Jammer der Erde
(The Drinking Song of the Earth's Sorrow)
2. Der Einsame Im Herbst (Autumn Loneliness)
3. Von Der Jugend (On Youth)
4. Von Der Schönheit (On Beauty)
5. Der Trunkene Im Frühling
(The Drunkard in Spring)
6. Der Abschied (The Farewell)

ASAHINA, TAKASHI/Osaka Philharmonie; Naoko Diara, alto; Makoto Hayashi, tenor Firebird KICC 155 (1984) (63:42) Although Asahina's reading is intelligently conceived, it lacks personality and emotional involvement, sometimes sounding sterile and dispassionate. The Osaka Philharmonic perform admirably, but in a tight, constricted manner which lacks expressivity and stylistic nuance. Naoko Ihara has a strong, matronly voice with a wide vibrato. Closely miked, she buries the orchestral accompaniment at powerful climaxes in the finale, singing full-voiced throughout. The tenor also has a robust voice on top but he has trouble negotiating certain passages, coming in late on "Du aber Mensch" in the first song and sings too loudly throughout the Trinklied.

BARENBOIM, DANIEL/Chicago Symphony; Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano; Siegfried Jerusalem, tenor - Erato 2292–45624 (1992) "60:16"* Barenboimdrivesthrough the Trinklied fiercely, providing a high level of intensity in support of Jerusalem's strong, expressive reading. In fact, tenor and conductor seem more sympatico than do mezzo-soprano and conductor. The sprightly, light-hearted third and fifth songs are more characterful than the second, fourth and sixth. Barenboim appears to be more personally involved in the faster movements; but his detachment from the world-weary moody of the Herbst movement, the lilting charm of "On Beauty" and the profound mystery of Der Abschied make his rendition of these movements less than satisfying. His cool reserve is well matched with Meier's. While she has admirable vocal qualities, one senses lack of involvement, perhaps from an effort to maintain control, particularly in Der Abschied. That expansive final movement opens in an atmosphere of abysmal doom. As it progresses, Barenboim becomes too edgy, diving hurriedly into climaxes (before #13) or meandering dispassionately (at #17, c.7:40), despite the marking zart leidenschaftlich (gently passionate). Too frequently the tonal shading becomes mirky (c.9:10) or even washed out (c.12:15). Harshness sometimes pervades more rapid passages

-205-

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Gustav Mahler's Symphonies: Critical Commentary on Recordings since 1986
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Symphony No. 1 in D Major ("Titan") 1
  • Symphony No. 2 in C Minor ("Resurrection") 33
  • Symphony No. 3 in D Minor 59
  • Symphony No. 4 in G Major 81
  • Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp Minor 107
  • Symphony No. 6 in a Minor ("Tragic") 141
  • Symphony No. 7 in E Minor ("Song of the Night") 167
  • Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major ("Symphony of a Thousand") 189
  • Das Lied Von der Erde 205
  • Symphony No. 9 in D Major 225
  • Symphony No. 10 in F-Sharp Major (Unfinished) 255
  • Bibliography 268
  • Index to Conductors 269
  • Index to Orchestras 284
  • Index to Soloists 298
  • Index to Choruses 322
  • Index to Record Labels 334
  • About the Author 355
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