Capping a journey of some 15 years with Deutsche Grammophon, conductor Pierre Boulez completes his survey of the Mahler symphonies with this 2010 release. It is fitting, perhaps, that this final disc should include works from the antipodes of Mahler's career. First begun in 1884, Des Knaben Wunderhorn is a collection of songs written much in the same vein as Schubert and Schumann songs, favoring Mahler's much-loved folk-like style. On the opposite end is the Adagio from Symphony No. 10. Though Mahler only completed sketches for this movement, several realization have been attempted since the composer's death. The version heard here, more than some, captures the unique textures Mahler was able to achieve in his symphonic writing. For his final installment, Boulez leads the Cleveland Orchestra and is joined by mezzo Magdalena Kozená and baritone Christian Gerhaher. Boulez, orchestra, and soloists capture the playfully folksy melodies without trivializing them. The highlight of the album, though, is the stark, ravishing beauty of the Symphony No. 10 Adagio. After listening to Wunderhorn, it became apparent to listeners just how far Mahler came in his compositional language, with his progressive harmonies, fragmented melodies, and unique capability to wield a massive orchestra like a scalpel. Boulez's vision for this movement is consistently forward-looking, carrying listeners along for the conclusion of his long voyage. Even listeners who have not invested in previous installments would do well to add this disc to their collections, both for the magnificent realization of the Adagio, and Boulez's insightful reading of it.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Des Knaben Wunderhorn|