MAHLER Knaben Wunderhorn Kozená Boulez

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GUSTAV MAHLER

Des Knaben Wunderhorn

Symphonie No. 10: Adagio
Magdalena Kozená
Christian Gerhaher
The Cleveland Orchestra
Pierre Boulez
Int. Release 01 Sep. 2010
1 CD / Download
CD DDD 0289 477 9060 0 GH
Pierre Boulez completes his Mahler discography on DG


Track List

Gustav Mahler (1860 - 1911)
Songs from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn"

Christian Gerhaher, The Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

Magdalena Kozená, The Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

Christian Gerhaher, The Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

Magdalena Kozená, The Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

6.
0:00
6:37

Christian Gerhaher, The Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

Magdalena Kozená, The Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

Christian Gerhaher, The Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

Magdalena Kozená, The Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

Christian Gerhaher, The Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

Symphony No.10 in F sharp (unfinished)

13.
0:00
24:04

The Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

Total Playing Time 1:13:16

. . . it's Boulez's conducting which most consistently engages the ear. He realizes the uncanny orchestral accompaniment to the third stanza of "Der Tamboursg'sell" and the pungent conclusion of "Revelge" with tremendous vividness. Boulez's Mahler has surely gained a degree of intensity over the years. But Thursday's program-opening Adagio from Mahler's unfinished Tenth Symphony confirmed that, rather than sacrificing his legendary intellectual rigor, Boulez has wedded it to a profound visceral understanding of this music. From the first pages, Boulez keeps the music under tight control, declining every opportunity to wallow in self-pity. Instead, Boulez seems to emphasize the strange ambivalence of the opening theme, using it as a springboard into a psychological world that's both elusive and rich. Yes, Mahler was known to find inspiration in dubious folk poems with a dodgy pedigree. But Boulez's carefully proportioned performances of Mahler's music testify to the unimpeachable emotional authenticity at the heart of the composer's work.

Pierre Boulez, without doubt one of the great musical minds of our time . . . His musical stature has only grown with his maturity . . . This performance had the hallmarks of the great Boulez/Cleveland Orchestra collaboration: precision of sound and tuning, transparency of texture with details being elucidated, flexibility of rhythm appropriate to this last of the great Viennese symphonists, but without being overwrought . . . Magdalena Ko¿ená and Christian Gerhaher proved ideal for these songs, adjusting their voices to the needs of the straightforward folk texts. Both Ms. Ko¿ená and Mr. Gerhaher used an extraordinary range of vocal colors . . . At the age of 85 Pierre Boulez is still going strong.

Kozena is every bit the star she was before, animating her roles with intense vocal and theatrical character . . . [Gerhaher is] delivering dramatic, full-bodied performances. No less a keepsake is the Adagio from Mahler's Tenth, a cool and insightful reading marked as before by overwhelming softness, piercing dissonance, and throat-grabbing peaks.

Clarity of expression becomes the purveyor of a tellingly dissonant climax securely placed between surrounding foothills of beauty, longing and poignancy. I'm hard-pressed to recall another performance, live or recorded, that has captured the essence of this elusive music so convincingly . . . In the songs, the orchestra provides a perfect foil to the two soloists . . . Christian Gerhaher nails every one of his songs with consummate understanding and projection, enhanced by a generous variety of tone and almost operatic engagement with the text . . . This disc represents a true jewel in the crown of Boulez's Mahler series.

He sings a fine, affecting "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen" and ends with an equally satisfying "Wunderhorn" group . . . that Housman-like tale is here most sympathetically unfolded . . . Michael Tilson Thomas, an instinctive Mahlerian, conjures throughout playing of pedigree and point from his San Francisco players.

. . . Boulez unearths an astonishing level of musical detail from these miniatures, navigating the competing pulls of nostalgia and progressivism which competed for Mahler's inspiration even at the relatively early stage when many of the songs were written. He also has two superb singers: Both Ko¿ená and Gerhaher give an almost expressionistic intensity to their espective songs . . . the orchestra plays it beautifully . . . this is a terrific endpoint for Boulez's highly rewarding journey through Mahler¿s world.

Boulez's work is an unalloyed delight . . . Kozená shows great versatility in her six numbers. "Lob des hohen Verstandes," that silly sketch about the cuckoo and the nightingale holding a singing contest, is good-humored without cheesiness, while at the other extreme the emotionally devastating "Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen" gets one of the best performances on recordings. It's touching from the very first notes; Kozená then switches to a purer tone for the young suitor before matching the fantastical violin glissando on the word "weinen."

. . . Kozená's light, quick vibrato is quite pleasing, as is her lush, mature mezzo. She is quite comfortable in this repertoire, and her characterizations are idiomatic and never overdone . . . Boulez accompanies with sensitivity, injecting lilt and lushness where it's needed and sounding properly martial for the songs that call for it. The sound is excellent for a live concert, and the Cleveland Orchestra sounds splendid . . . a very well-performed and generously filled disc.

[The recording] does have a lot to offer, especially Magdalena Kozená's glowing mezzo, a natural Mahler singer . . . it is the reading of the "Adagio" from the Tenth Symphony that I find most affecting . . . [Boulez] seems the perfect choice for [this score] . . . This is a wonderful reading . . . very fine sound and spectacular playing of the Cleveland Orchestra.

[Das Cleveland Orchestra erweist sich] als wunderbar beweglicher, kammermusikalisch agierender Begleiter, was freilich vor allem dem punktgenauen Dirigat Pierre Boulez geschuldet ist . . . die stimmliche Qualität Magdalena Kozenas steht natürlich außer Frage, und in dem Liebeslied "Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen" erreicht sie [eine wunderbare Eindringlichkeit].

[Das Cleveland Orchestra erweist sich] als wunderbar beweglicher, kammermusikalisch agierender Begleiter, was freilich vor allem dem punktgenauen Dirigat Pierre Boulez geschuldet ist . . . die stimmliche Qualität Magdalena Kozenas steht natürlich außer Frage, und in dem Liebeslied "Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen" erreicht sie [eine wunderbare Eindringlichkeit].

[Boulez gelingt] auch beim sinfonischen Schlusspunkt Mahlers das Kunststück, die sprengkraftgeladene Aktualität dieser Musik bis in die letzte Nervenfaser deutlich zu machen. Das verstörende Leidensflackern und scheinbar verzaubernd Idyllische schlägt daher nirgendwo in eine Art spirituell aufgeladene Meta-Musik um. Vielmehr lässt Boulez das Innerste dieses Satzes mit einer erregenden Unmittelbarkeit derart zu uns sprechen, dass selbst im kostbar sanften Streicherfluss brutalstes Espressivo steckt. Selten wurde Mahlers ebenso kühner wie steiniger Weg des endgültigen Abschiednehmens so ungeschminkt und wirklichkeitsnah ausgeleuchtet.

Mit der energischen Mezzostimme von Magdalena Kozená und Christian Gerhahers lyrischem Bariton dirigiert Boulez das Cleveland Orchestra zwischen sinfonischer Hochkultur und effektvoller Volkstümlichkeit.

Was anderen Dirigenten der elegische Schwanengesang eines Todgeweihten ist, wird beim exzellenten Cleveland Orchestra unter Boulez' unsentimentaler, analytisch durchdringender Leitung die atemberaubende Vision einer nie erfüllten Zukunftsmusik. Den zwölf "Wunderhorn"-Liedern, wo Sinn für das Changieren zwischen Kunst- und Volksmusik gefragt ist, lässt Boulez kaum ironische Brechung erkennen. Das gleicht durch intensive Gestaltungskraft Bariton Christian Gerhaher hinreißend aus. Star-Mezzo Magdalena Ko¿ená gefällt durch irisierende Tongebung . . .

[Hampson]: Eine Aufnahme die packt, überzeugt, Massstäbe setzt und den Eindruck hinterlässt . . . [die] zum Kanon der unverzichtbaren Neuerscheinungen gehört . . . Da wird etwas gesagt, was aufhorchen und staunen lässt. Der überaus differenziert notierte Tonsatz Mahlers wird transparent, mit Spiellust und Tiefgang ausgedeutet und in perfektem Deutsch teils frech, teils verschmitzt, teils schmachtend deklamiert . . . Die solistische Streicherbesetzung verschiebt das Gewicht auf die Bläser und die Perkussion und unterstreicht den bizarren, spöttischen und herben Grundklang in transpranter, scharf konturierter Feinzeichnung . . . [ein] durch und durch überzeugender Höreindruck . . .

. . . diese Einspielung ist ein Höhepunkt von Boulez' ohnedies sensationellem Mahler-Zyklus.

L¿Adagio . . . parachève de la plus belle façon une intégrale Mahler passionnante . . . La transparence naturelle de l'Orchestre de Cleveland permet à Boulez de mettre à nu les lignes de force de la partition, de faire surgir sa modernité sans en atténuer la violence expressive.