Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde
Klaus Florian Vogt; Christian Gerhaher;
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal;
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
The Montreal Symphony Orchestra, well-known internationally in the happier decades of the recording industry for their many classic recordings of predominantly French repertoire, has joined the ranks of orchestral house labels with an excursion into what is for them relatively unfamiliar territory. The primary allure of this performance is the finely wrought interpretation of baritone Christian Gerhaher. There is a natural, human warmth in his singing that is consistently compelling through a wide range of emotions, from the charming intimacy of Von der Schönheit to the stoical acceptance of fate in the final Abschied. Nagano is at his best in this half-hour finale, where his cool, understated approach and the white tone of the vibrato-less wind solos brings to light the Buddhist aspects of Mahler’s autumnal masterpiece. Gerhaher’s counterpart, the rising young tenor Klaus Florian Vogt, has a quite pleasant lyric tone to his voice, however Mahler’s initial vocal instructions (Mit voller Kraft; immer machtvoll) are simply beyond him. Though Vogt can be heard clearly enough over the orchestral maelstrom (thanks to a post-concert dubbing session in a Bavarian studio), his reading of his part, though elegant, is timorous and lacking in textural nuance. The audio quality is unexceptional, derived from a combination of live and studio sessions. I would gladly exchange the annoyingly speculative program notes for the full text and translations of the songs, whose absence here is unconscionable.