Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde

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WORKS: Das Lied von der Erde
PERFORMER: Marjana Lipovisek (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Moser (tenor); Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Georg Solti
The Mahlerian world must be out of joint when an apprentice work moves the listener more deeply than the most introspective of all the composer’s late reflections on life and death; the very different calibres of these performances explain why. The fate of the youth in Das klagende Lied, slain by his jealous sibling, may well have had a special significance for the teenage Mahler, whose younger brother died six years before the cantata’s completion; certainly the way in which the first movement, ‘Waldmarchen’, shies away from the murder to lament in gently elegiac tones suggests as much. Alto Linda Finnie’s first entry at this crucial point strikes movingly home alongside the warm, woody Bournemouth sound. It’s an inwardness never achieved by Solti and his mezzo in the final ‘Abschied’ (Farewell) of The Song of the Earth. Marjana Lipovsek can be charismatic and musicianly, but here the long lines of sorrow or transcendence are too operatically larded to establish the movement’s still centre.


Solti’s adaptable tenor, Thomas Moser, seems more at one with the orchestra, and Mahler’s natural scene at its most springlike brings out the best in die bumpy Solti/Concertgebouw partnership. Hickox makes no apology for the leisurely wood-magic of Das klagende Lied, beguiling phrases from the singers and atmospheric woodwind solos keep impatience at bay. The Chandos sound has handsome natural presence – a lesson to Decca, who do the Concertgebouw violins no favours in close-up — so be prepared for a vivid pay-off to the murdered brother’s beyond-the-grave revenge. David Nice