Chailly: Mahler - Des Knaben Wunderhorn (FLAC)
Chailly: Mahler - Des Knaben Wunderhorn (FLAC)

Performer: Matthias Goerne, Sarah Fulgoni, Barbara Bonney, Gösta Winbergh
Orchestra: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Conductor: Riccardo Chailly
Composer: Gustav Mahler
Audio CD
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: Decca
Size: 281 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Des Knaben Wunderhorn, songs (12) for voice & piano (or orchestra)
Composed by Gustav Mahler
Performed by Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
with Gosta Winbergh, Matthias Goerne, Barbara Bonney, Sarah Fulgoni
Conducted by Riccardo Chailly

01. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Der Schildwache Nachtlied
02. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Wer Hat Dies Liedlein Erdacht?
03. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Der Tamboursg’sell
04. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Das Irdische Leben
05. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Verlor’ne Müh
06. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Des Antonius Von Padua Fischpredigt
07. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Urlicht Sara Fulgoni
08. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Revelge
09. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Rheinlegendchen
10. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Lob Des Hohen Verstandes
11. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Trost Im Unglück
12. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Wo Die Schönen Trompeten Blasen
13. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Lied Des Verfolgten Im Turm
14. Songs From ”Des Knaben Wunderhorn” – Das Himmlische Leben

another benchmark

Chailly’s recording of “Des Knaben Wunderhorn” sets another benchmark, which is to say it rivals Abbado’s recent set with Quasthoff and von Otter. In truth, the two sets are not really in competition with one another, for Chailly’s set includes both more songs (the further addition of “Das himmlische leben,” associated with Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, as well as the “Urlicht” from the Second, which Abbado’s set also includes) and more singers (four instead of two), not to mention an entirely different sequence to the songs. It’s impossible to choose between conductors — both are top-notch, with Chailly perhaps emphasizing the quicksilver elements and Abbado more attuned to the elegance and morbidezza of the lyric moments. But then Chailly does have Barbara Bonney singing “Das himmlische leben” in what sounds like the performance of a lifetime. I cannot recall a performance of this song that marries innocence and uncanny wistfulness more beautifully than this one. Some of her recent recordings have revealed a certain wear on the voice, and this recording is no exception. Her breath control in “Wo die schonen Trompeten blasen,” for example, remains phenomenal, but the voice can no longer ride into the upper register with the tonal purity it used to command effortlessly. But on this recording, at least, Bonney seems to have found a way to exploit the shifting center of gravity of her voice, and she creates a heartbreakingly poignant reenactment of the dialog between parting lovers. Comparison with von Otter’s recording of the same song is telling. No one can create the impression of recessed grief like von Otter, and her version of the song is astonishing in a different way: iridescent tone and classical purity of line present the aural equivalent of a Pre-Raphaelite memory of a medieval illumination or tapestry. (No exaggeration.) Bonney’s version shows the eroticism, fear, and pain more directly. As for the baritones, again only personal taste can be the judge: Quasthoff’s singing is more robust and also more grainy; Goerne’s is more suave and insinuating. The real bonuses on the Chailly disc are perhaps the contributions of the late Gosta Winbergh, in a thrilling performance of the murderously difficult “Revelge,” and Sara Fulgoni, who nearly steals the entire show. Her performance of “Urlicht” easily eclipes von Otter’s for Abbado (which is saying A LOT), and comes very, very close to matching the ethereal beauty of Janet Baker’s performance at Ely Cathedral for Leonard Bernstein in the mid-seventies — it’s that good.

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