Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde (tilson Thomas)

Album cover art for upc 821936001929
Catalog: SFS60019
Format: SACD

San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas Stuart Skelton, tenor and Thomas Hampson, baritone

Gustav Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde

Michael Tilson Thomas is emerging as, arguably, one of the finest Mahler interpreters of his generation. I have been following with enthusiasm the outstanding recordings of Mahler symphonies from San Francisco and this recording maintains that very high standard. When Mahler wrote Das Lied von der Erde he did not specify the voice opposite the tenor, simply that it could be a contralto or a baritone. It was Bruno Walter, conductor of the first performance in 1911, who opted for a contralto and that became the convention. Performances by two male voices are not common but there have been a few successful recordings over the years. Any recording of this work must stand in the shadow of Klemperer’s with Christa Ludwig and the late Fritz Wunderlich (EMI 74325 66944). The Klemperer Das Lied is outstanding not only because it successfully reflects Mahler’s intentions both musically and spiritually, he also employs two refined vocalists who remain the ultimate choices for this Mahlerian summit. Tilson Thomas’s approach is extroverted, treating the work as an orchestral show-piece. This is convincing but in a completely different way from Klemperer. Unfortunately, tenor Skelton just does not measure up to Wunderlich either musically or vocally. Luckily, Thomas Hampson, who sings the songs usually assigned to a contralto is excellent and a true Mahlerian in every way. The engineering is astounding, faithfully and transparently reproducing the textures so necessary for the full impact of Maher’s complex score. Reviewed by Bruce Surtees. Reprinted from The Wholenote Magazine

Price: $24.98