LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Das klagende Lied
PERFORMER: Marina Shaguch (soprano), Michelle DeYoung (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Moser (tenor), Sergei Leiferkus (baritone); San Francisco Symphony & Chorus/Michael Tilson Thomas
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68599 2
Latest in a line of works Tilson Thomas told me he loves for their naivety, the teenage Mahler’s precocious shot at vivid storytelling improves by degrees in this conductor’s hands. Others have more plausibly argued the case for the long, first-movement ‘Forest Tale’ the mature composer cut from the first performance; so spacious a concept needs the resonance and depth Chandos lends Hickox’s leisurely narration, and less of the strip-cartoon Wagner-spurts Tilson Thomas puts on in the few moments of frenzied activity. Still, the chorus’s refrains strike poignantly home and the veil slowly drawn over the woodland fratricide at the end of the movement is beautifully done – there’s some especially dewy San Francisco string-playing here.
Star of the show is mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, who effortlessly projects the tragedy; though it’s good to have a touch of the heroic tenor in Thomas Moser’s contribution and Marina Shaguch handles her last final pianissimo cry of sorrow affectingly. In this final ‘wedding piece’, however, lightning certainly flashes but thunder rarely shakes the palace foundations – and that’s true of the performance as a whole. David Nice