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CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer),
song cycle for voice and piano (1883/85) [22:26]:
I. Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht [3:52]
II. Ging heut Morgen übers Feld [4:10]
III. Ich hab'ein glühend Messer [3:25]
IV. Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz [5:49]
Rückert-Lieder, song cycle for voice and piano (1901/02) [19:08]:
I. Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder! [1:25]
II. Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft [2:53]
III. Liebst du um Schönheit [2:24]
IV. Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen [6:12]
IV. Um Metternich [6:26]
Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children)
Song cycle for voice and piano (1904) [24:01]:
I. Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n [6:34]
II. Nun seh ich wohl [5:15]
III. Wenn Dein Mütterlein [4:33]
IV. Oft denk’ich [4:22]
V. In diesem Wetter [3:17]
Hermine Haselböck (mezzo)
Russell Ryan (piano)
rec. 5-6 May 2008, 17-18 January 2009, Lisztzentrum, Raiding, Austria
Full German texts with English translations provided
BRIDGE RECORDS 9341 [60:25]

CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Stimme der Sehnsucht (Voice of Longing)
Hans PFITZNER (1869-1949)
Songs for voice and piano [12:31]:
I. Stimme der Sehnsucht, Op. 19/1 [2:17]
II. Nachts, Op. 26/2 [3:21]
III. Lockung, Op .7/4 [2:12]
IV. Nachtwanderer, Op. 7/2 [1:37]
V. Abschied, Op. 9/5 [2:48]
Richard STRAUSS (1864–1949)
Songs for voice and piano [21:23]:
I. Ständchen, Op. 17/2 [2.23]
II. Des Dichters Abendgang, Op. 47/2 [5:33]
III. Schlechtes Wetter, Op.69/5 [2:22]
IV. Nachtgang, Op.29/3 [2:36]
V. All mein’ Gedanken, Op.21/1 [1:12]
VI. Befreit, Op. 39/4 [4:44]
VII. Zueignung, Op. 10/1 [1:58]
VIII. Morgen! Op.27/4 [3:42]
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children)
Song cycle for voice and piano (1904) [22:26]:
I. Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n [4:58]
II. Nun seh ich wohl [4:30]
III. Wenn Dein Mütterlein [4:18]
IV. Oft denk’ich [3:05]
V. In diesem Wetter [5:34
Christianne Stotijn (mezzo)
Joseph Breinl (piano)
rec. 15-17 March 2011, Reitstadel, Neumarkt, Germany
Full German texts with English translations provided
ONYX CLASSICS 4075 [60:35]
Experience Classicsonline

Here we have releases from two mezzo-sopranos Hermine Haselböck on Bridge and Christianne Stotijn on Onyx giving Lieder recitals that both contain Mahler’s profoundly affecting Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children).
Austrian singer Hermine Haselböck accompanied on piano by Russell Ryan recorded her Mahler Lieder recital over a number of sessions in 2008 and 2009 at the Lisztzentrum in Raiding, Austria. Haselböck’s programme comprises three song cycles Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer); the Rückert-Lieder and Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children).
It did take me a while to get used to the characteristics of Haselböck’s voice. At the start of a number of the Mahler Lieder particularly in Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht her voice initially appears a touch severe before it begins to warm and soften. Overall diction is exceptionally clear, accentuating all the consonants. As heard in Ging heut Morgen übers Feld pronouncing each word one at a time makes the legato seem rather ponderous. I felt that quickly taken notes when under pressure in her top register presented some difficulty providing a degree of harshness. I would never describe this voice as beautiful although it is highly expressive and has considerable amplitude. I was struck by the amount of drama Haselböck produced in Ich hab'ein glühend Messer. With the words Wennich den Himmel she’ her high register when under pressure sounds rather piecing. She is very much at home with the funeral tread of Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz with her voice sounding agreeably soft and tender. When singing the words Ich bin ausgegangen: in stiller Nacht it sounds as if she means every word. A fine example of how excellent the singing can be is in Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder! which really suits her deliberate style and clear production. I loved her tender expression in the short song Liebst du um Schönheit and the abundance of heartbreaking yearning in Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen which is so expressively sung. Dark and melancholic Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n from the Kindertotenlieder is full of world weary expression. A degree of harshness to the voice is evident with the words Du musst nicht die Nacht in dir verschränken. Commencing with what sounds like suspect piano tuning the song Nun seh ich wohl is tenderly sung conveying a sense of heartbreaking yearning. Sombre and highly moving Oft denk’ich contains stunning singing in her higher register which is assisted by not being taken too quickly. Low and dark, and taken briskly in the song In diesem Wetter the tempo increases and the tension builds to produce considerable drama. Exceptionally moving the music slows down and fades away to nothing. Hermine Haselböck and Russell Ryan are quite closely recorded with a cool clear sound quality that I found most agreeable. The Bridge label is to be congratulated for providing full German texts with English translations.
Dutch born Christianne Stotijn and pianist Joseph Breinl recorded their Lieder recital in 2011 at the Reitstadel in Neumarkt, Germany. The programme includes a selection of five Pfitzner songs a selection of eight Richard Strauss songs and the Mahler’s cycle Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children). The recording
Titled Urlicht I was highly impressed with Stotijn’s 2006 recital of Mahler’s songs with pianist Julius Drake on Onyx 4014.
I was immediately struck by Stotijn’s natural warmth and dark mellow timbre. Her diction is reasonably clear and her expressiveness is striking. She manages to imbue her performances with real personality. Her fine diction and phrasing is well displayed in Pfitzner’s Stimme der Sehnsucht. She is able to sing at a near whisper however her voice when forced loses some attractiveness and the smoothness reduces. I enjoyed the dark eerie mood that she created in Nachts evoking a gloomy nocturnal forest scene. Assisted by sumptuous piano writing in Richard Strauss’s Des Dichters Abendgang there’s a heady atmosphere depicting a poet’s walk in the evening dusk. An intense yearning for a deceased partner in Befreit is sung with an abundance of feeling yet real composure. One of Strauss’s finest compositions Morgen! contains some delicious piano writing and the rich smooth timbre is heard to telling effect. Taken more slowly than I am used to Stotijn’s assured interpretation of this Strauss masterwork is achingly affectionate and highly expressive. She gives a splendid rendition of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder. I particularly enjoyed the songs Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n and Nun seh ich wohl both sung with an intense yeaning containing dark colours of grief. Probably the finest singing with dramatic pleading in her deep grief is heard in the funereal tread of Wenn Dein Mütterlein. Pianist Breinl is slightly closer recorded than Stotijn with the partnership benefiting from cool crystal-clear sound. Onyx also provides full German texts with English translations.
The orchestral song cycle Kindertotenlieder (Songs for dead children) took on great meaning for the composer and his wife Alma Mahler. Mahler composed his orchestral song cycle Kindertotenlieder (Songs for dead children) in 1901/04 set to texts by Friedrich Rückert. Following the deaths of two of his children Rückert wrote over four hundred poems collectively titled Kindertotenlieder. Alma Mahler strongly expressed her discomfort with the subject matter as if composing the Kindertotenlieder would somehow tempt fate. The worst happened and Mahler and Alma became haunted by the death of their own child Maria in 1907. Given the mournful nature of the inspiration it is not surprising that an achingly poignant mood cloaks the orchestral songs.
The Kindertotenlieder is well represented in the record catalogues today in both the versions for voice and orchestra, and voice and piano. I cannot recommend any versions of the Kindertotenlieder for voice and piano but in the versions for voice and orchestra the highest standards are achieved by three mezzo-sopranos and a baritone. Firstly the cherishable and affecting voice of Janet Baker with the Hallé Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli from 1967 at the Abbey Road Studios, London on EMI Classics 5 66981 2. There is also the 1988/89 Jesus Christ Church, Berlin account from an intense Brigitte Fassbaender and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Riccardo Chailly on Decca 473 725-2. Another fine performance was delivered by Christa Ludwig with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan. The insightful and persuasive Ludwig recorded the score in 1974 at the Philharmonie, Berlin on Deutsche Grammophon 457 716-2. For those wanting to hear a male voice in the Kindertotenlieder the outstanding candidate is the achingly moving performance from the great baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau recorded in 1963 at the Jesus Christ Church, Berlin with the Berlin Philharmonic under Karl Böhm on Deutsche Grammophon 477 9375.
Mezzo-sopranos Hermine Haselböck on Bridge and Christianne Stotijn on Onyx have very different voices and each brings individual qualities to their well sung Lieder recitals. It is extremely difficult to choose between the two and both releases would sit nicely in any Lieder collection.
Michael Cookson

Masterwork Index: Rückert-Lieder











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