Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde - Stuart Skelton, Thomas Hampson, San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas - 2008 (SACD-R, ISO)

Mahler – Das Lied von der Erde – Stuart Skelton, Thomas Hampson, San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas – 2008 (SACD-R, ISO)

Composer: Gustav Mahler
Performer: Thomas Hampson – baritone, Stuart Skelton – tenor
Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony
Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1 SACD-R
Format: ISO
Bit Depth: 64(2.8 MHz/1 Bit)
Number of channels: 5.1, 2.0
Label: San Francisco Symphony
Size: 3.52 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes (PDF)
Server: rapidgator

Stuart Skelton, Thomas Hampson, San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas
Gustav Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde

01. Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde
02. Der Einsame im Herbst
03. Von der Jugend
04. Von der Schoenheit
05. Der Trunkene im Fruehling
06. Der Abschied

Recorded live in Davies Symphony Hall September 26-29, 2007

The San Francisco Symphony, led by Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, presents a new live recording of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, the 10th installment in their Grammy Award winning Mahler recording project. It features baritone Thomas Hampson & tenor Stuart Skelton. It was recorded in September 2007 in Davies Symphony Hall. The SFS Mahler recording series has been recognized with 4 Grammy Awards. All 8 of the Mahler symphony recordings on the SFS label have reached the top 10 on the Billboard Classical Chart.

Immaculate, except for 1 disgusting error!
from by Austin Han:
Disgusting error? How dare I? The San Francisco Symphony making a disgusting error? Never!
I want to point out, in case anybody’s wondering what’s wrong with their CD player, during the very beginning of the 2nd movement of this song cycle, a distant beeping sound is heard. I was at the performance when this recording was made. That’s the sound of a stupid audience member who forgot to turn off their digital watch.
Just a heads up, in case. But as of the orchestra’s performance, go for it!

This performance has 2 big assets & 1 huge liability. The assets are Stuart Skelton’s really heroic performance of the tenor part, & Michael Tilson Thomas’ excellent conducting of a supremely responsive San Francisco Symphony.
1st, Skelton:
here is a tenor who truly has the heft for the part. In the opening song he cuts through the orchestra with just the right defiant tone. True, his voice isn’t perfectly flexible–those little melodic turns in the vocal line tend to be glossed over; but whether here, in the delicate imagery of “Of Youth”, or in the tipsy abandon of “The Drunkard in Spring”, Skelton must be acknowledged as 1 of the better tenors to take the part, at least recently.
2nd,Michael Tilson Thomas:
his Mahler sometimes suffers from mannered phrasing, but here he proves himself supremely sensitive to his singers, & well able to project the subtleties of Mahler’s orchestration. One example will suffice: listen to the wailing woodwind at the climax of Der Abschied’s central interlude–this is the real Mahlerian deal (though why so little tam-tam at its climax?). The orchestra’s solo wind players, flute & oboe particularly, give exquisite accounts of their parts. There is nothing in the response of the orchestra that falls below world-class quality, & the sonics are very good in all formats (with 1 exception) considering the recording’s live provenance.
So what’s the problem?
I can sum it up in 2 words: Thomas Hampson. His participation really begs the question of whether Thomas, as the man in charge, exercised sensible judgment. Hampson recorded Das Lied several years ago with Simon Rattle; he was that performance’s big liability as well. Wasn’t MTT listening? Hampson’s dry timbre was bad enough then, & it’s gotten worse. He lacks the range for the part at both ends of the scale, resorting to an unappealing falsetto in “The Lonely Man in Autumn” & giving up singing entirely in the “horseback” interlude in “Of Beauty”. Granted, Fischer-Dieskau shouted too, particularly in his recording with Bernstein, but his approach is so much more attractive everywhere else. Hampson’s diction is also strange, particularly on the vowel “e” (as in “ewig”) often to the point of distraction.
Worst of all, in the concluding apotheosis of “Der Abschied”, which Mahler asks to be played & sung triple piano, Hampson comes blasting in with all the subtlety of Ethel Merman belting out “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”. Despite the fact that Mahler himself sanctioned performances with a baritone instead of the more usual alto, performances like Hampson’s really do demonstrate that the music works better with a female soloist. The mezzo/alto range seems to fit the vocal tessitura better, & rides the accompaniments more clearly. But whether you agree with me or not on this point, you surely will dislike Hampson’s contribution to this otherwise fine performance, 1 that makes it impossible to recommend this release with anything other than very qualified enthusiasm.



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