Mahler: Complete Wunderhorn songs

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COMPOSERS: Mahler
LABELS: Evil Penguin Records
ALBUM TITLE: Mahler: Complete Wunderhorn Songs
WORKS: Complete Wunderhorn Songs
PERFORMER: Dietrich Henschel (baritone), Boris Berezovsky (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: EPRC 013

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Baritone Dietrich Henschel is pictured in winter-journey mode all over this CD. Yet it’s Boris Berezovsky who deserves the limelight and displays the wider palette, conjuring up the trumpets, drums and trilling winds of Mahler’s military marches with imaginative orchestral pianism. Sometimes he drives too hard, such as in the first two songs, the relatively late Revelge  and a less than bittersweet Rheinlegendchen. Henschel shows spirit but little tonal variety for the boy-girl dialogues and lacks introspection when it comes to the metaphysics of Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen and the concluding Urlicht. Here a soprano or mezzo should have shared the programme.

This recording’s real importance lies in the parity it gives to the earlier, voice-and-piano-only settings of the folk anthology Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Magic Horn of Youth). ‘Zu Strassburg auf der Schanz’ is every inch as dark a soldier’s song as the better-known masterpieces, and Berezovsky captures the quirky modulations of the simpler-sounding ‘Aus! Aus!’. It’s also unique in my experience to hear the angel song from the Third Symphony in its piano-accompanied alternative. The inlay notes, by Henschel and Stefan Grondelaers,
are engagingly written.
 

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David Nice