Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
New to the Living Stereo series, this recording gets my "most revelatory remastered sonics of the year" award. It always was a fine performance--and just how fine we can hear for ourselves in this extraordinary SACD remastering. Whether in regular stereo or SACD three-channel sound, the improvement is simply amazing, revealing Reiner's wizardry with Mahler's pellucid orchestration at its most persuasive. Although sometimes thought to be a "cold" conductor, Reiner's work here is a model of sensitivity and expressive subtlety.
Two examples suffice: he takes the big
eruption at the center of "Von der Schönheit" at a tempo that permits Maureen Forrester to actually sing the notes and still manages to inject the music with the proper sense of urgency. In "Der Abschied" Reiner's shaping of the big orchestral interlude between its two parts is a model of world-weary heartbreak. Note the barely perceptible hesitations in the two phrases leading up to the melodic climax, with its wailing woodwind. Great stuff!
And the singing is no less fine. On balance, Klemperer still has the best soloists (Ludwig and Wunderlich), and let's not forget Janet Baker with Haitink. But as everyone knows, Maureen Forrester was a Mahler singer of real distinction. Had she died young and tragically, and been British, she would have a cult following just like Kathleen Ferrier's, though with one exception: she would have lived up to the hype. All three of her songs are models of fine diction, artful phrasing, and moving handling of the text.
Richard Lewis certainly is one of the better tenors to assay this role (after Wunderlich, of course). He's fearless in the opening number, and the recording balances his voice perfectly against the raging orchestra, letting us hear the words but at the same time embedding him within the texture rather than placing him artificially out in front. He manages a real downward slide at the movement's climax, and his two later songs are charming--"Of Youth" elegant and witty, "The Drunkard in Spring" tipsy but with an appropriately defiant, bitter edge. So throw out any previous incarnation you may own and buy this remastering. It's no longer "great, but..."; rather, it's just plain great.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Das Lied von der Erde by Gustav Mahler
Maureen Forrester (Mezzo Soprano),
Richard Lewis (Tenor)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1908-1909; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 11/1959
Length: 63 Minutes 0 Secs.
Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde (The Drinking Song of Earth's Sorrow) (Redbook Stereo)
Der Einsame im Herbst (Autumn Loneliness) (Redbook Stereo)
Von der Jugend (Of Youth) (Redbook Stereo)
Von der Schönheit (Of Beauty) (Redbook Stereo)
Der Trunkene im Frühling (Wine in Spring) (Redbook Stereo)
Der Abschied (The Farewell) (Redbook Stereo)
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