WORKS: Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Schoenberg)
PERFORMER: Miriam Murphy (soprano), Henry Moss (baritone); Royal Academy of Music Chamber Ensemble/Edward Carroll
CATALOGUE NO: 010
This is really Mahler arranged by Schoenberg, realised by Riehn with additions by Edward Carroll (the conductor of this performance). With Carroll’s reinstatement of the crucial trumpet part, harps and timpani, Schoenberg’s creative role retreats further into the background; which is surely right, for while solo strings make the earth bloom with a unique intimacy, there’s little we actually miss from the original other than snarling trombones in the last funeral-march interlude and the sustained warmth of collective violins at the end. I was going to lament the missed opportunity of an even more striking rarity, Irwin Stein’s arrangement of the Fourth Symphony so beautifully played in concert some years back (but alas never recorded) by the Britten-Pears Ensemble; but since RCA has infuriatingly deleted the best contender among chamber Lieds, Mark Wigglesworth’s performance with his Premiere Ensemble, Robert Tear and the loveable Jean Rigby, this admirable venture has a special claim to attention.
The players could not be more expressive. In this context, the superlative handling of the oboe solo at the beginning of the farewell is only first among equals. Miriam Murphy could do with more flexibilty from Carroll in the Autumn meditation, and needs to focus the sound to help pitching and nuance; it’s not a warm tone like Rigby’s, but an undoubtedly fine contralto instrument, very impressive in the big phrases. Henry Moss, sounding fresh, anguished and effortful only when the text calls for it, takes a big step from his unforgettable delivery of telegrams in the Royal Opera Paul Bunyan. Overall youthfulness lends a special charm; but by any standards this is an impressive achievement. David Nice