Mahler: Symphonie No. 1; Rückert-Lieder

Christoph Eschenbach / Christine Schäfer / Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

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Mahler: Symphonie No. 1; Rückert-Lieder Review

by Blair Sanderson

Even though this 2010 release from Capriccio appears modest and doesn't purport to be anything more than a straightforward presentation of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major and his Rückert Lieder, it is actually a finer recording than many audiophile releases of the same works and a more satisfying account of the symphony than many others that offer the "Blumine" movement as bonus incentive. Christoph Eschenbach and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin play the symphony with directness and vitality, and the energy they build in the first movement is not diffused by the interruption of "Blumine," a slow movement that had been part of the earlier tone poem "Titan" that Mahler excised from the symphony, but which many modern conductors like to put back. Eschenbach will have none of that revisionist thinking and lets the first movement's propulsion carry on through the robust Scherzo. The rest of the symphony is equally compelling, and the music is especially riveting in the Dantesque Finale, where Mahler's depiction of the inferno is shockingly communicated through the orchestra's ferocious playing. Rückert Lieder is altogether gentler in feeling and warmly lyrical, and soprano Christine Schäfer sings with a radiantly expressive voice that is particularly moving in "Liebst du um Schönheit" and "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen." Capriccio's recorded sounded is rich and resonant, and the sonorities of the voice and the orchestra are marvelously balanced and natural, without any traces of studio manipulation.

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