Mahler's music always has the capacity to thrill and this excellently compiled collection of songs is no exception. The indomitable Stephan Genz teams up with the equally talented Roger Vignoles for a fine traversal through those song cycles that were basically, the gestation for the symphonies that continue to mystify, edify and transcend humanity.
The first seven songs from 'Lieder und Gesänge' are typical Mahler. Genz finds some lovely atmosphere in 'Hans und Grete' while the "Phantasie" is equally imbued with mystery. The 'Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen' are also ravishingly done with Vignoles providing exemplary accompaniment to Genz's strongly characterful singing.
I was always a great fan of the 'Rückert Lieder' and Stephan Genz did not disappoint me in any way. The cycle is particularly suited to the contralto voice but I was quite bowled over by the baritone qualities that the songs have. 'Um Mitternacht' is particularly beautiful with Mahler's masterful piano writing superbly played by Vignoles.
The team concludes with a wonderful performance of Mahler's greatest song cycle, 'Kindertotenlieder'. This emotional traversal through the darkest moments of death is also very well done with superb renditions of 'Wenn dein Mutterlein' and 'In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus', both sung with mastery accomplishment be Genz and emphatically accompanied by Vignoles.
Hyperion's recording is kind to the baritone and the piano is also well placed. The front cover painting is also ideally suited to the grim subjects of the song cycles and I have nothing but a wholehearted recommendation for this new release that should serve to enrich any self respecting collection of the celestial music of Gustav Mahler.
Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech