Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Das klagende Lied
: Der Spielmann und Hochzeitstück
Symphony No.10 - Adagio (1910) [25:50]
Manuela Uhl (soprano), Lioba Braun (alto), Werner Güra (tenor)
Czech Philharmonic Chorus Brno*
Beethoven Orchester Bonn/Stefan Blunier
rec. 14-16 May 2012, Bonn, Germany
MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 937 1804-6
This MDG CD from the Beethoven Orchester Bonn and
Stefan Blunier combines Mahler’s earliest orchestral works with
his last. As so often in musical matters, there are decisions that need
be made about versions and editions, and what is on offer here in this
regard may well determine how much appeal the disc will hold.
To begin at the end: Blunier conducts just the first movement Adagio
of the Tenth Symphony, which Mahler himself completed, unlike the remainder
of the work. There are countless versions of the full symphony as realised
by the likes of Deryck Cooke, Rudolf Barshai and Clinton Carpenter,
but these take up an entire CD to themselves. Be that as it may, the
Adagio of the Tenth works well as a ‘complete’ piece
and has been recorded as such by Bernard Haitink and Leonard Bernstein,
among others. Nor is it inappropriate to link Blunier with this exalted
company, since his Bonn orchestra plays splendidly and his reading captures
the ebb and flow, and occasionally the sense of crisis, of Mahler’s
intense symphonic vision. As recorded here, with a wide-ranging dynamic,
the violins sound thin towards the top of their range, but the climaxes
are suitably powerful and the ending could hardly be more inward and
In Das klagende Lied Blunier opts to omit the opening Waldmarchen
movement, whereas most rival recordings include it. Among these the
performances conducted by Riccardo Chailly (Double Decca 4737252) and
by Michael Tilson Thomas (Avie SACD 82193 00172) are particularly fine,
though it is a shame that Chandos have seen fit to delete the excellent
version by Richard Hickox and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Mahler completed Das Klagende Lied in 1880, at the age of twenty.
This cantata for soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, chorus and orchestra,
uses Mahler's own text based on an old German legend. Had he won the
Conservatoire’s composition prize with it, instead of coming second,
he might not have embarked upon his conducting career, his music may
well have been very different, and so on. In fact, the work is thoroughly
characteristic and has entered the canon of Mahler’s compositions.
For a recorded performance especially, it seems a pity not to have the
atmospheric Waldmarchen movement, though to be fair, what remains
does sound perfectly well on its own without any undue sense of torso.
In this performance the recorded sound is pleasing, and so too the contributions
of the three soloists, among whom the soprano Manuela Uhl sounds particularly
Blumine is the short second movement of the first version of the
Symphony No. 1, which Mahler chose to excise after the premiere. It
stands well on its own, a beautifully lyrical piece with a prominent
role for the trumpet, and it is good to have this pleasing performance
in the catalogue.
The presentation standards of the CD are high, with good documentation,
but there is no libretto.