Bernarda Fink

Mahler: Lieder

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Bernarda Fink's 2014 album on Harmonia Mundi offers a representative selection of Gustav Mahler's songs from all periods, provided with varied accompaniments. While seven of the songs feature voice and piano, where Fink is joined by pianist Anthony Spiri, she is supported in Arnold Schoenberg's chamber arrangement of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen by the Gustav Mahler-Ensemble, and in Kindertotenlieder by the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich, under the direction of Andrés Orozco-Estrada. This mix of instrumentation and ensembles contributes more color and expressive depth than the conventional recital format, and Fink seems to relish the opportunity to interpret Mahler in different contexts. The early songs are adequately conveyed by Fink's luminous mezzo-soprano voice and Spiri's sympathetic playing, but the richer emotional content of the mature songs requires (at minimum) the resources of the chamber ensemble in Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, and absolutely demands the full orchestra in Kindertotenlieder, one of Mahler's great masterpieces, on par with the contemporaneous middle symphonies. Fink is charming in the lighter songs, such as "Ablösung im Sommer" and "Ging heut' morgen übers Feld," which suit her bright, cheerful tone, though she is compelling in the tragic works, where she darkens her vocal timbre to match the music's somber qualities. Harmonia Mundi's sound is clear and full, so this is a marvelous recording for lovers of Mahler's songs and newcomers to this powerful music.

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