Thursday, June 29, 2017

Gustav Mahler, arr. Arnold Schoenberg - Songs (JoAnn Falletta)


Composer: Gustav Mahler; Arnold Schoenberg
  1. Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (arr. Schoenberg): 1. Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht
  2. Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (arr. Schoenberg): 2. Ging heut' Morgen übers Feld
  3. Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (arr. Schoenberg): 3. Ich hab' ein glühend Messer
  4. Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (arr. Schoenberg): 4. Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz
  5. Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Schoenberg): 1. Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde
  6. Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Schoenberg): 2. Der Einsame im Herbst
  7. Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Schoenberg): 3. Von der Jugend
  8. Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Schoenberg): 4. Von der Schönheit
  9. Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Schoenberg): 5. Der Trunkene im Frühling
  10. Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Schoenberg): 6. Der Abschied

Roderick Williams, baritone (1-4)
Charles Reid, tenor (5, 7 & 9)
Susan Platts, mezzo-soprano (6, 8 & 10)
Attacca Quartet
Virginia Arts Festival Chamber Players
JoAnn Falletta, conductor

Date: 2016
Label: Naxos



Recordings of Schoenberg’s chamber arrangements of Mahler have proliferated of late and this latest version from the Virginia Arts Festival consequently forms part of an already substantial discography. You may find yourself in two minds about it. First, there are the arrangements themselves. While some would argue that Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen gains intimacy from the reduction, scaling down Das Lied von der Erde all but undermines a work that deals with isolation by pitting solo performers, vocal and instrumental, against the collective weight of a sizeable orchestra.

Secondly, the singing here is variable in quality. Roderick Williams is, as one might expect, superb in Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, his tone easily produced, his attention to textual detail immaculate, even in the most high-lying passages. The chamber version of Das Lied von der Erde offers opportunities for singers who might find the original taxing, to offer new interpretative insights, though Falletta’s casting is in many ways conventional. Contralto Susan Platts sings with hieratic dignity throughout, and does exquisite things at ‘Die müden Menschen geh’n heimwerts’ in the ‘Abschied’. Charles Reid, however, is very much the full-throttle Heldentenor, and can be ungainly. You may prefer Douglas Boyd’s Manchester Camerata recording, which is sung with far greater detail and consistency.

Falletta conducts with admirable refinement and passion, though, and as on her Virginia recording of Stravinsky’s Soldiers Tale (Naxos, 5/16), the playing is extremely fine, with a real sense of give and take between the instrumentalists. Solo strings make ‘Der Einsame im Herbst’ more wintry than autumnal, though the Attacca Quartet sound creepily effective here. The woodwind are particularly beautiful and poised.

-- Tim Ashley, Gramophone

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Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was an Austrian late-Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. In his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, but his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of neglect. After 1945, Mahler became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers. Mahler's œuvre is relatively small. Aside from early works, most of his are very large-scale works, designed for large orchestral forces, symphonic choruses and operatic soloists.


JoAnn Falletta (born February 27, 1954 in New York) is an American classical musician and orchestral conductor best known as music directors of the Virginia Symphony (since 1991) and Buffalo Philharmonic orchestras (since 1999). She has also served as music director of the Long Beach Symphony and of the Women's Philharmonic Orchestra (San Francisco). Falletta has recorded over 70 albums. In 2011 she was appointed artistic director of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. Outside of the USA, Falletta was the 12th principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra (2011-2014).


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