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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67392
Recording details: January 2003
Tonstudio Teije van Geest, Sandhausen, Germany
Release date: October 2004
Total duration: 15 minutes 52 seconds

'This disc shows Stephan Genz entering his fourth decade with all the light suppleness and ardour of his youthful recordings, but now with darker colours and firmer bass ballast folding into his baritone. His intuitive musical partnership with Roger Vignoles is as sentient and perceptive as ever; and together they uncover the dark, sensual mysteries of the late-Rommantic response to the natural world' (BBC Music Magazine)

'A rich sonorous eloquence from Genz, while Vignoles musters a full range of orchestral colours. Piano accompaniment lends these works a more personal, intimate feel, turning this generous disc into a pensive, rewarding journey through the many complex moods of Mahler's inner life' (The Observer)

'Even in this golden age of Lieder singers, Stephan Genz has few rivals for easeful beauty of tone and acuteness of insight' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Stephen Genz is an excellent light baritone whose timbre reminds me sometimes of one of his teachers, Dietrich Fischer-Diskau, and whose interpretations are like Fischer-Diskau's earlier ones,before he began to over-interpret … highly recommended' (American Record Guide)

'This is an extremely enjoyable disc, which casts a lot of light on even those songs of Mahler which were written to be accompanied orchestrally … Genz is singing a cycle to which he is utterly suited, and the effect is magical' (International Record Review)

'Stephen Genz relies on subtle shading, verbal refinement and a lightness of touch to interpret a generous selection of Mahlerian masterpieces' (Classic FM Magazine)

'What surpassingly magnificent music this is, and what a superbly intelligent display of Western high-art at its most poignant from Genz and Vignoles. I just can't stop playing the disc. Endless pleasure, endless sorrow, endless beauty' (Fanfare, USA)

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
composer
author of text

Other recordings available for download
Karen Cargill (mezzo-soprano), Simon Lepper (piano)
Introduction  EnglishDeutsch
Mahler himself wrote the texts for Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, modelling them on the style of the Wunderhorn poems. Thus the journeying apprentice of the title is a stock character whose tale of unrequited love is drawn in simple imagery that also recalls Schubert’s Müller cycles (as in the reference to his sweetheart’s blue eyes, or the linden-tree beneath whose branches he finally finds peace). Incidentally, the customary English translation, Songs of a Wayfarer, is somewhat misleading, suggesting as it does a generalized traveller, rather than a member of a traditionally itinerant workforce—what in English used to be known as a ‘journeyman’.

In the first song, Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht, the rustic setting is immediately audible in the asymmetrical piping of the wedding dance and in the calling of the birds, clearly differentiated from the sustained sonorities of the lover’s lament, which begins by withdrawing into itself, but then cannot help opening up again in widely arching phrases expressive of his grief. In Ging heut morgen übers Feld—which Mahler reused substantially in the First Symphony—he shakes off the gloom, under the influence of a bright summer morning. In the piano part all is burgeoning nature and bright fanfares of birdsong; only at the end does the contrast with his own lost happiness become too much for him.

Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer is the storm at the heart of the cycle, its emotional turmoil expressed in an exceptional vocal range from low D to high G and searing chromatics over stark open fifths in the bass. In the quiet central section ‘Wenn ich in dem Himmel seh’’, devotees of Schubert would not need Mahler’s own orchestration to recognize the two horns that represent the vision of two blue eyes. But the sepulchral E flat minor of the postlude, with its scurrying triplets, is pure Mahler. The final song, Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz, begins as a funeral march, but ends as a vision of emotional sublimation and release, the E minor of the opening yielding to an almost seraphic F major melody whose triadic contours are designed to release all the possible harmonic overtones of the accompanying pedal-point in the piano. By the end the funeral march has become a distant echo, suggesting a comparable emotional distancing of the singer from his grief.

from notes by Roger Vignoles 2004


Other albums featuring this work
'Mahler & Mahler: Lieder' (CKD453)
Mahler & Mahler: Lieder
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