Angelika Kirchschlager once again has put out an album full of artistic integrity and emotion. This brilliant mezzo-soprano, accompanied by the equally skilled Helmut Deutsch on the piano, sings only Mahler lieder. Divided into four sets, Kirchschlager's album is a musical tour that culminates in passionate near-outbursts in the last two sets. The Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen take the listener on a journey of emotions ranging from sadness to liveliness (one really feels she indeed went to a field in the morning in "Ich ging heut' morgen…") to a sense of urgency that she has a burning knife in her hand in "Ich hab' ein glühend' Messer." In the second set of lieder, one senses Kirchschlager's tenderness as she smells a gentle fragrance, sense her "Ruh," her bittersweet mood through her exquisite phrasing and control on single words like "liebe." The piano never overpowers her, but is bright, delicate, and tinkling where it needs to be, but also assured and grand (such as in "Um Mitternacht…"), giving the listener an inkling of Mahler's grand symphonic capabilities. Perhaps the highlight of the album is the song set from Des Knaben Wunderhorn that has a more folk-song quality, a departure from the previous pieces on the album. Kirchschlager is up to the task, with melismas that are clear and smooth and crisp diction that clearly tells a story with emphasized rhyme and rolled Rs. In the last two pieces of the set, the mezzo-soprano lets loose with passionate shrieks and yelps here and there that are impassioned but never out of character. The music suggests a pre-Kurt Weill sensibility, and the listener gets even more of that with the last three songs. One cannot help but notice Kirchschlager's sense of play (which, oddly enough, strengthens her diction). The piano is rollicking, but still never steals the limelight from the singer. One hears Kirchschlager's cabaret side in "Selbstgefühl" unleash itself with wide inflections, shrieks, and glottal. It seems as though she is speaking the text as though it were her own. Needless to say, this album is yet another masterpiece by a gifted artist.
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AllMusic Review by V. Vasan
|Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen|
|Lieder from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn"|
|Lieder und Gesänge|