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Track(s) taken from CDA67645

Das irdische Leben

First line:
Mutter, ach Mutter! es hungert mich
composer
April 1892 to summer 1893; subsequently published as No 5 of Des Knaben Wunderhorn (also called Humoresken)
author of text
Verspätung, from Des Knaben Wunderhorn

Stephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Recording details: February 2007
Tonstudio Teije van Geest, Sandhausen, Germany
Produced by Teije van Geest
Engineered by Teije van Geest
Release date: January 2008
Total duration: 3 minutes 8 seconds

Cover artwork: Apotheosis (detail) by Sergius Hruby (1869-1943)
Private Collection; reproduced by kind permission of the copyright holders, Whitford & Hughes, UK / Bridgeman Art Library, London
 
1

Reviews

'Deeply affecting … warmly recommended' (Gramophone)

'Stephan Genz's light, warm and cultured baritone is especially fine in reflecting the ghost voices and moonlight serenades of Mahler's folk-inspired anthology … this is the first time that I've heard a male voice take on 'Urlicht' … and its quiet serenity, as in 'Wo die schonen trompeten blasen', is what Genz does best' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Urlicht is beautifully sung … and Vignoles's playing is remarkably expressive throughout' (The Sunday Times)

'The charm of Mahler's Lieder-composing style—so close to Schubert's—comes across beautifully. Stephan Genz is more than just a very fine singer: his precision, sensitivity and range of imagination proclaim him a true successor to the great Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. And Vignoles's booklet note is an informative pleasure in itself' (Classic FM Magazine)

'This performance is a revelation, the simplicity of the piano setting and the serenity of Genz's performance casting a benediction on the entire program … Genz and Vignoles have produced a worthy successor' (Fanfare, USA)

'There are a number of other collections available … but none of these has the clear and unambiguous sound that this Hyperion release has, especially the excellent piano balance, and Genz sings with a definite point of view and a nice sense of characterization. You have to have one of the orchestral versions, but you will also find much satisfaction in Mahler’s superbly realized piano version as well, and this recording will serve many needs' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'Roger Vignoles palpably revels in the task of conjuring a full Mahlerian orchestra … this CD is partly a demonstration of Genz's technique in this repertoire: the tone remains firm at even the most intimate levels and, most importantly, he binds consonants and vowels into the singing line, so that the lied emerges as a form of heightened speech. But it's a measure of Genz's sensitivity that one doesn't hear simply a great lieder singer at work. Instead, the entire set, with its panoply of characters, emanates from a recognizably 'Wunderhorn' persona—direct, ingenuous, fully in tune with the material's folklore-ish nature' (Opera News)

'It is a recording that seems, above all, to be characterised by enormous intelligence and sensitivity, from both singer and pianist … most prefer to here these songs in Mahler's brilliant and scathing orchestral versions but the artistry on show here makes me glad to hear them in the intimate, piano-only versions … this disc, then, allows us to experience these wonderful songs close-up in all their variety, humour and pathos. Highly Recommended' (Musical Criticism.com)

'This is a vibrant rendering of Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn in the versions for voice and piano, a setting which requires the idiomatic approach Vignoles uses for the accompaniment and the nuanced tone Genz uses to evoke a sense of chamber music. Lacking the sonorous orchestral accompaniment, the singer is more exposed, and this allows Genz to display his vocal finesse well' (Opera Today, USA)

'Vignoles's pianism is so persuasive that one hardly misses the orchestral versions. In Revelge, for instance, his accompaniment to the song about the marching soldier has a suitably martial quality, while his playing of the lowest register of the piano to represent the drum rolls at the beginning of Der Tamboursg'sell is eerie and unforgettable. Genz, meanwhile, provides a well-characterised interpretation, his voice superbly controlled both in the vehemence of the prisoner's defiance in Lied des Verfolgten im Turm and in the beautiful pianissimos of Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen' (MusicOHM.com)
Das irdische Leben has a form typical of many folk-song traditions in which a sequence of actions leads to an inevitable, and usually unwelcome conclusion. In this case a mother is trying to comfort her starving child. Three times she attempts to quieten him—‘tomorrow we will harvest/thresh/bake’—but by the end it is too late to save him. Mahler sets the two voices against an eerie E flat minor moto perpetuo which suggests the grinding of the mills of fate. The child’s repeated cries of ‘Gib mir Brot’ span the widest possible intervals, first an octave then a tenth, like the gaping mouth of a fledgling in the nest, while the mother’s attempts at reassurance, lower in pitch, betray both anxiety and impotence. In the long interlude before the final couplet the music almost comes to a halt, its uneasy stasis telling us the outcome even before it is spelled out to us.

from notes by Roger Vignoles © 2008

Das irdische Leben besitzt eine Form, die in vielen Volksliedtraditionen typisch ist: eine Folge von Handlungen führen zu einem unvermeidbaren und gewöhnlich unwillkommenen Ende. In diesem Fall versucht eine Mutter ihr hungerndes Kind zu trösten. Dreimal versucht sie, es zu beruhigen—„morgen werden wir ernten/dreschen/backen“—aber am Ende ist es zu spät, um es zu retten. Mahler setzt die beiden Stimmen gegen ein unheimliches Moto perpetuo in es-Moll, das das Mahlen der Mühle des Schicksals andeutet. Die wiederholten Schreie des Kindes „Gib mir Brot“ umfassen sehr weite Intervalle, zuerst eine Oktave, dann eine Dezime—wie das offene Schnäbelchen eines jungen Vogels im Nest—während die Versuche der Mutter, das Kind zu beschwichtigen, tiefer liegen und sowohl Beklommenheit als auch Ohnmacht verraten. Im langen Zwischenspiel vor dem letzten Couplet kommt die Musik fast zum Stillstand, und ihr unbehagliches Stocken schildert uns den Ausgang schon bevor er uns ausdrücklich mitgeteilt wird.

aus dem Begleittext von Roger Vignoles © 2008
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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