Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde
San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, Thomas Hampson & Stuart Skelton
Open iTunes to preview, buy, and download music.
Not the best, but worth buying for the Hampson (or Das Lied von der Erde) fan
I bought this with considerable anticipation, because it is one of only a handful of recordings with a baritone rather than a mezzo-soprano or contralto in the even-numbered movements, and because I had heard much praise of Thomas Hampson. Das Lied von der Erde is one of my favorite pieces in all of music, and my gold standard is the Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau / James King / Leonard Bernstein recording with the Vienna Philharmonic, so I am inclined to prefer a male voice. The Hampson / Skelton / Tilson Thomas effort is a worthy one, but it's no challenger to Bernstein et al. In particular, Hampson's performance is very good, but Fischer-Dieskau's is sublime. Hampson sings German as someone who has learned the language reasonably well, but you can hear the effort to pronounce it carefully, where Fischer-Dieskau (not surprisingly) sings it effortlessly. In the soft sections that are so critical in "Der Abschied", Hampson sings too forcefully. Skelton is overmatched, like many lighter tenors, in the heavier sections of his songs, especially "Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde", where he struggles to stay in front of the orchestra, but he's fine in the softer sections. Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony deliver a rather understated performance, albeit beautifully recorded. The woodwinds and brass sections sound a bit dodgy, but that may just be Tilson Thomas's decision to hold them back. I personally prefer more emotion and drama in this work. If you love Das Lied von der Erde and enjoy listening to different interpretations, or if you're a big Hampson fan, this is well worth buying. If you're just looking for one really great recording, I'd recommend Fischer-Dieskau / King / Bernstein. If you don't care about the voicing, Janet Baker / Rafael Kubelik and Christa Ludwig / Otto Klemperer are both superior recordings. I was tempted to award 3 stars, but gave it 4 because of the scarcity of recordings with a baritone. This music is so wonderful that even average performances are rewarding.
This is a great album. I have been listening to is on repeat for two days now, and it is just another great installment by MTT to his Mahler collection. MTT, being the most acclaimed Mahler interpreter of the past decade, it should come as no surprise that this is yet another triumph for MTT and the San Francisco Orchestra. For any Mahler or MTT fan you will love this ablum. That said, I believe that the other reviewer is correct. With the Bernstein/Fischer-Dieskau album you had two titans in the height of their careers come together to produce a recording that no one can parallel. If Bernstein/Fischer-Dieskau is the ultimate recording of this work, then MTT/Hampson is surely the penultimate recording. I would also recommend the Fischer-Dieskau album of Mahler's Leiders with Bernstien accompanying on Piano. It is another beautiful collaboration. Berstein is adept on the Piano as he is the Podium when it comes to Mahler, and Mr. Fischer-Dieskau had the most beautiful voice that I have ever heard, and it is full and rich on that album.
Formed: 1911 in San Francisco , CA
Years Active: '10s, '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s