Mahler, Wagner

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COMPOSERS: Mahler,Wagner
LABELS: Aeon
ALBUM TITLE: Mahler, Wagner
WORKS: Mahler: Rückert-Lieder (arr. Favre); Wagner: Wesendonck-Lieder (arr. Favre); Prelude und Liebestod (arr. Favre)
PERFORMER: Felicity Lott (soprano); Quatuor Schumann
CATALOGUE NO: AECD 0540

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Listeners to the orchestral versions of Mahler’s Rückert Songs or Wagner’s Wesendonck Songs may not realise that what they are hearing is not entirely the composer’s own work. Four of Wagner’s five songs were orchestrated by the conductor Felix Mottl, one of Mahler’s by Max Puttman, a music publisher’s employee. So for Christian Favre, composer and pianist of the Quatuor Schumann, to transcribe them for piano quartet is scarcely outrageous. In fact he makes a perfectly decent job of it, though there are relatively few striking touches and arguably something in the medium itself, as well as his use of it, occasionally causes the image of a palm-court orchestra to surface. The performances are well delivered, though again the playing is not especially vivid, while the sound picture tends to hide Felicity Lott behind the instruments. Unnecessarily, for her voice is in remarkable condition for a 60-year-old, even if it was never suited to Isolde’s Liebestod, however arranged. Elsewhere she gives a decent account, though words are insufficiently clear and her tonal range limited. For more lustrous versions of the Wagner, Jessye Norman with Colin Davis conducting is unsurpassed; for the Mahler, try Janet Baker under Barbirolli. George Hall