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Mahler, Rihm: Orchestral Songs

Mahler / Pregardien / Bochumer Symphoniker
Release Date: 10/29/2013 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777675   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gustav MahlerWolfgang Rihm
Performer:  Christoph Prégardien
Conductor:  Steven Sloane
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MAHLER Songs from Das Knaben Wunderhorn. Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. RIHM Rainer Maria Rilke: 4 Gedichte Christoph Prégardien (ten); Steven Sloane, cond: Bochum SO CPO 777 675-2 (62:26)


This recital came as a pleasant surprise for two reasons. One was the inclusion of a recent cycle of Rilke settings by Wolfgang Rihm, a work that sounds like Henze at his most approachable and sits firmly in the line Read more of distinguished German Lieder. The second surprise was the lyric tenor of Christoph Prégardien, a singer I had been aware of for years but for some reason had never heard.


To the Rihm first: This contemporary composer sets four poems by Rilke, all of a somewhat pessimistic cast. The cycle comes across as one long piece in four sections. The settings all consist of long arioso vocal lines, accompanied by gently shifting orchestral textures with an emphasis on woodwind colors. Harmony is atonal (that is, without a distinctive tonal center) but never abrasive, and the overall effect is one of quiet unease, reflecting the angst of Rilke’s poems. Prégardien premiered the cycle with piano accompaniment in 2002, and the orchestral version in 2004. His light but well supported voice proves the perfect instrument for this searching work. Though a tenor, he is also comfortable in the baritonal range, and Rihm takes advantage of this by sending him down below the stave at several points.


In the Mahler songs, Prégardien dons the cloak of a storyteller. His clear diction and attention to detail combine to bring immediacy to the character songs (like the cuckoo and donkey song “Lob des hohen Verstandes” from Das Knaben Wunderhorn ) and exceptional clarity to the rest. While he can hit a powerful forte— as he does in “Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer” from Lieder eine fahrenden Gesellen —he mostly sits at a mellifluous mezzo-forte . It is a joy to hear his effortless technique and cleanly produced tone in every register recreate Mahler’s exquisite writing. Inevitably, some songs are more successful than others: I certainly prefer a woman’s voice in the two slowest Knaben Wunderhorn songs, “Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen” and “Urlicht” (preferably Janet Baker, although Anne Sophie von Otter, Christa Ludwig, and the almost forgotten Yvonne Minton are not to be overlooked). Nevertheless, Prégardien brings something special to this recital: He conveys that conversational intimacy, as if he was speaking to the individual listener alone, which is the mark of a true Lieder singer.


The Bochum Symphoniker under its regular conductor Steven Sloane provides a warm yet pointed accompaniment, and tempos are well judged. I see that Prégardien has recorded all these songs previously with piano, accompanied by Michael Gees in the Mahler and Siegfried Mauser in the Rihm selections (for different labels). I have not heard those issues, but let me reiterate that a substantial part of the success of this recital is due to the orchestra and conductor. This really is a lovely disc.


FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

1.
Des Knaben Wunderhorn: no 10, Lob des hohen Verstandes by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Christoph Prégardien ()
Conductor:  Steven Sloane
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1898; Hamburg, Germany 
Venue:  Ruhrkongress Bochum 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 
2.
Des Knaben Wunderhorn: no 9, Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Christoph Prégardien ()
Conductor:  Steven Sloane
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1898; Hamburg, Germany 
Venue:  Ruhrkongress Bochum 
Length: 6 Minutes 48 Secs. 
3.
Des Knaben Wunderhorn: no 13, Revelge by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Christoph Prégardien ()
Conductor:  Steven Sloane
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1898; Hamburg, Germany 
Venue:  Ruhrkongress Bochum 
Length: 6 Minutes 59 Secs. 
4.
Des Knaben Wunderhorn: no 7, Rheinlegendchen by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Christoph Prégardien ()
Conductor:  Steven Sloane
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1898; Hamburg, Germany 
Venue:  Ruhrkongress Bochum 
Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs. 
5.
Des Knaben Wunderhorn: no 4, Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht? by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Christoph Prégardien ()
Conductor:  Steven Sloane
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1898; Hamburg, Germany 
Venue:  Ruhrkongress Bochum 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
6.
Des Knaben Wunderhorn: no 12, Urlicht by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Christoph Prégardien ()
Conductor:  Steven Sloane
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1898; Hamburg, Germany 
Venue:  Ruhrkongress Bochum 
Length: 5 Minutes 8 Secs. 
7.
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Christoph Prégardien ()
Conductor:  Steven Sloane
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1896; Germany 
Venue:  Ruhrkongress Bochum 
Length: 14 Minutes 52 Secs. 
8.
Rilke: 4 Gedichte, for tenor & piano by Wolfgang Rihm
Performer:  Christoph Prégardien ()
Conductor:  Steven Sloane
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2000 
Venue:  Ruhrkongress Bochum 
Length: 19 Minutes 13 Secs. 

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