MAHLER Des Knaben Wunderhorn Otter 4596462
Quasthoff comes very near to the top of baritones who have essayed the military songs, his tone compact, well-ordered, responsive to verbal nuance, and he's as successful with the lighter and ever-delightful 'Lob des hohen Verstandes', nightingale, cuckoo and donkey nicely characterized.
. . . [von Otter, accompanied by a delightful dance lilt by Abbado,] embodies Mahler's description of "Rheinlegendchen" . . . With a care for a true singing line, even "in extremis", Quasthoff evokes the pathos and pity of war as well as its fury and horror. Like von Otter, he brilliantly distinguishes the "characters" in the duet songs, never straining for effect . . . DG's engineers and Abbado's ear ensure that Mahler's orchestral palette has never sounded more vivid. And his singers not only have expressively flexible voices but also strike a fine balance between folk-like directness and sophistication . . . As part of this dream Mahler team, Quasthoff sings "Fischpredigt" with just the right unexaggerated drollery, as the superlative Berlin wind cavort around him. Von Otter brings an unforced eloquence to her songs, culminating in a rapt, glowing "Urlicht".