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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Mahler Lieder
WORKS: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (arr. Schoenberg); Kindertotenlieder; Rückest-Lieder; Des Knaben Wunderhorn – ‘Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen’; Drei frühe Lieder – ‘Im Lenz’, ‘Winterlied’; Lieder und Gesänge aus der Jugendzeit – ‘Ablösung im Sommer’, ‘Nicht wiedersehen’, ‘Frühlingsmorgen’
PERFORMER: Bernarda Fink (mezzo-soprano); Anthony Spriri (piano); Gustav Mahler Ensemble; Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich/Andrés Orozco-Estrada


There’s the best of all Mahlerian worlds on offer in mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink’s typically sensitively programmed new recital disc. She chooses the arrangements for chamber ensemble of the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen which Arnold Schoenberg made, in loving tribute to his mentor, for the Society for Private Musical Performances; and Fink contrasts these with piano-accompanied settings of early and later songs, and with Mahler’s own fully orchestrated version of the Kindertotenlieder. For the Rückert-Lieder, two orchestral settings frame two accompanied by piano.

It all makes for a recital as refreshing for the soul as for the ear. Mahler’s effusive, light-drenched early lovesongs, such as ‘Im Lenz’, from the Frühe Lieder, see the bright, clear soprano register of Fink’s mezzo lit by Anthony Spiri’s radiant piano playing.

Schoenberg’s arrangement (for ten instruments including piano and, to magical effect, harmonium) creates a hazy dawn and a sense of veiled despair at the start of the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. Strings sing intimately with the voice, solo violin and flute become avian soloists, and the bow lacerates the cello’s strings as the gleaming knife of angst is plunged in the breast.

In the full orchestration of the Kindertotenlieder, instrumental solos are as delicately yet ardently poised and placed as in Fink’s voice – and Spiri is a perceptive accompanist in his share of the Rückert-Lieder.


Hilary Finch