Susan Platts, Charles Reid, Roderick Williams; Attacca Quartet; Virginia Arts festival Chamber Players; conducted by JoAnn Falletta. Naxos 8.573536 [80:00]. Released Oct 14, 2016.
We take it for granted today that we can hear any type of music at any time but before the development of recorded music it was a struggle for many even well known composers to get their work heard if it required large orchestras.
Arnold Schoenberg admired Mahler and we have to thank his industry for arranging Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen and Das Lied von der Erde for small forces which give singers and players a chance to perform these masterpieces more regularly in a more intimate setting.
The British baritone Roderick Williams combines a fine voice with a sense of drama and commitment to the text which produce compelling performances and he does not disappoint in the poetic style of the lieder.
Das Lied von der Erde is a much larger and complex work but again Schoenberg pairs down the orchestration and produces an intimate sense of colour from a small instrumental ensemble and allows the singers to perform the songs without straining against a large orchestra, I have always thought this to be a very difficult work to cast as the tenor has to be both tender and heroic and the mezzo to produce a rich darker more contralto sound which stretches many singers to the limit.
Happily both Susan Platts and Charles Reid do justice to this fine work and the sense of intimacy almost takes the piece into a different world which Mahler, who never heard this work performed, would no doubt have approved.
Mahler fans will want this recording in their collection and it is a very good start to exploring the more private emotional world of a complex man.
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (4 songs, complete)
Roderick Williams (baritone)
Das Lied von der Erde
arr. Arnold Schoenberg
Susan Platts (mezzo-soprano) & Charles Reid (tenor)