This is the eleventh installment within the Hans Rosbaud Edition of the label SWR CLASSIC. This edition, once accomplished, will be the most extensive and in depth documentation of Rosbaud’s artistic legacy. It contains all the Mahler recordings Rosbaud made for the German broadcasting stations, compiled for the first time in a box set. Gustav Mahler was one of Hans Rosbaud’s great favorites. Rosbaud did neither record all the symphonies nor the song cycles, but everything we have speaks for itself and gives ample proof of the fact that the musical all-round genius Rosbaud is not only one of the greatest Mahler conductors in history but one of the leading Mahler conductors ever. He does not just reveal the works’ structure to perfection and with maximum faithfulness to the score – though this is, apart from a strong sense of musicality, a most essential factor – but unfolds the whole range of Mahler’s passion. There is no specific moment that he would not express in an accordingly specific way. We present here the first release of all the Mahler recordings Rosbaud made for the SWR in one box set. This is of epoch-making importance in so far as it revolutionizes any Mahler image we may have had to this day: not in a specific direction that could be summed up in a slogan but in a way that provides a more comprehensive understanding based on all the structural and expressive dimensions of Mahler’s music. Nobody but Hans Rosbaud is able to make these aspects so perceptible, so audible in every detail and in every respect imaginable.
Latest to appear in SWR’s invaluable Rosbaud series is a Mahler box consisting of Symphonies Nos 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9 as well as Das Lied von der Erde. Although these recordings have been available in earlier incarnations this is, to the best of my knowledge, the first box dedicated entirely to the complete run of Rosbaud’s Mahler repertoire as preserved on tape.
The Seventh’s provocative stream of consciousness suits Rosbaud’s recreative temperament, while Das Lied finds the wonderful Ernst Haefliger in fresher voice than on his three commercial recordings. Grace Hoffman may not have the distinctive timbre of Kathleen Ferrier or Janet Baker but she nonetheless sings with genuine depth of feeling.
Above all, Hans Rosbaud’s Mahler is durable. He never allows the music to tire or exhaust you.
– Gramophone (Rob Cowan; Nov 2020)