Alma & Gustav Mahler - Lieder
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Cat No: CKD453
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 23rd June 2014
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer)
Symphony no.2 in C minor 'Resurrection'
ArtistsKaren Cargill (mezzo-soprano)
Simon Lepper (piano)
Frequently singled out for her phenomenal vocals, Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill brings her exemplary range of vocal colours and rich emotional expression to bear in her debut solo recital. Seldom paired, the well-known Gustav Mahler lieder follow five of wife Alma’s lesser-known, but equally engaging, songs.
These personal and highly romantic songs are perfectly complemented by Cargill’s poetic sensitivity. Her warm and vibrant voice, with the emotional insight borne of opera, is breathtakingly beautiful.
In 2013 Cargill was appointed Associate Artist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and their recording of Berlioz Les nuits d’été & La mort de Cléopâtre with Robin Ticciati was named Gramophone’s ‘Recording of the Month’. Winner of the 2002 Kathleen Ferrier Award, Cargill has won many fans through her performances at The Metropolitan, New York, Covent Garden, London and Deutsche Opera, Berlin.
Simon Lepper accompanies with sensitivity and flair. An award-winning pianist specialising in vocal accompanying, Lepper is a regular recital partner of Cargill’s.
‘Dark, mobile, richly emotional…makes you clutch at your heart...’ - The Times
‘Cargill's performance is a revelation for me…excellent pronunciation, diction and colour.’ - BBC Radio 3 ‘CD Review’
‘[A] sumptuous voice…extraordinary musical delicacy and emotional range.’ - The Independent
‘…wonderfully controlled and exquisitely shaded.’ - The Guardian
‘Karen Cargill has a remarkably beautiful voice, full of sunny delicacy and warmth.’ - BBC Music Magazine
The Europadisc Review
Thanks to the availability of numerous recordings, Gustav Mahler's song cycles are now so well-known in their orchestral versions that hearing them with piano accompaniments can come as something of a shock. Yet, when they're well done, as they are on this fine new disc from Linn, they have the feeling of taking the listener back to a more intimate world, and to the real musical and expressive essentials of these works.
For her debut recital disc, mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill – whose 2013 recording of Berlioz's Les nuits d'été and La mort de Cléopâtre we so enjoyed – has chosen two of Mahler's best-known collections, the five Rückert-Lieder (1901–02) and the earlier Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer, 1884–85). They are imaginatively coupled with five songs composed before 1901 by Mahler's future wife Alma Schindler, published only in 1910 as an appeasement from Mahler after he discovered her affair with the architect Walter Gropius. The relationship between Mahler and his much younger wife was a complex one, and their married life had started with him requesting that Alma, a budding composer in her own right, give up composition.
Alma's songs, including the five heard on this disc, are redolent of their times, and reflect not only her intoxication with the music of Wagner but also a familiarity with the latest musical trends: shades of Zemlinsky and early Schoenberg hover in the background. They're beautifully performed here, and if you don't already know them, you're certainly in for a treat, with wonderfully evocative late-Romantic harmonies in abundance.
With Gustav Mahler's own songs we enter an altogether different sound-world. He went back further, to the earlier nineteenth century, for his poetic inspiration, yet the music itself is utterly forward-looking. In these piano versions, the listener can appreciate anew the abundant invention of Mahler's motivic interplay, his skill in turning accompanimental figures into significant events in themselves. The opening of the second Rückert setting, ‘Ich atmet' einen linden Duft!' arguably makes an even greater impression on piano than it does with orchestral accompaniment, especially when it's presented as delicately as it is here, while ‘Liebst du um Schönheit' and ‘Um Mitternacht' hit home with rare tenderness.
In the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, the musical gestures emerge with the clarity of a freshly-engraved print, and ‘Ich hab' ein glühend Messer' lacks nothing in power or urgency. A substantial bonus is the piano-and-voice version of Urlicht (Primordial Light), the fourth movement from Mahler's ‘Resurrection' Symphony, which provides a beautifully poised close to this compelling recital.
The whole disc benefits from Karen Cargill's superb mezzo-soprano voice, which is warm but focused and incisive, her handling of the text is both fastidious and poetic. She has all the dramatic impact of an experienced opera singer, but the sensitivity to textual detail of a true Lieder artist. Simon Lepper's piano playing is ultra-responsive throughout, brilliantly representing Mahler's wide dynamic and textural range. With excellent recording, fine notes, full texts and well-chosen cover art (Oskar Kokoschka's Bride of the Wind (1913)), this is a disc to treasure.
1Alma Mahler - Die Stille Stadt
2Alma Mahler - In Meines Vaters Garten
3Alma Mahler - Laue Sommernacht
4Alma Mahler - Bei Dir Ist Es Traut
5Alma Mahler - Ich Wandle Unter Blumen
6Gustav Mahler - Blicke Mir Nicht In Die Lieder
7Gustav Mahler - Ich Atmet' Einen Linden Duft
8Gustav Mahler - Liebst Du Um Schonheit
9Gustav Mahler - Um Mitternacht
10Gustav Mahler - Ich Bin Der Welt Abhanden Gekommen
11Gustav Mahler - Wenn Mein Schatz Hochzeit Macht
12Gustav Mahler - Ging Heut' Morgen Ubers Feld
13Gustav Mahler - Ich Hab' Ein Gluhend Messer
14Gustav Mahler - Die Zwei Blauen Augen Von Meinem Schatz
15Gustav Mahler - Urlicht
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