Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde
Producers: Walter Legge and Peter Andry. Recording Engineers: Robert Gooch and Douglas Larter. Rec. at Kingsway Hall, London, 1964-02 and 1966-07 (Ludwig) / 1964-11-07 -
Wunderlich's movements were recorded in November 1964. Christa Ludwig had already made two of her movements in February 1964, and recorded the remaining in July 1966. The reason for this is that the producer Walter Legge decided to dissolve the Philharmonia Orchestra in March 1964. Wunderlich was originally to have recorded his contrubutions in September 1964, but this was cancelled. Not before the musicians themselves had reorganized the orchestra (now as the New Philharmonia Orchestra) could further sessions take place. Further information on these matters can be found in Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf-Legge's book "On and Off the Record". The record was not released until 1967.
- Cast: Fritz Wunderlich, Christa Ludwig (contralto), Philharmonia Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra, cond. Otto Klemperer
- Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde
- Grand Prix du Disque, Paris
- Edison Prize
- Karl Schumann in "FonoForum", 6/1967:"Fritz Wunderlich was the ideal Mahler tenor, at the very best of his youthful, lyric aura, at the same time sensitive to the weltschmerz of Li-Tai-Pe's verses."
- M. Santi in "Audio", 11/1985:"Seldom has Mahler's insight in the transitoriness of all mundane things been so compellingly conveyed than in Otto Klemperer's recording of 20 years ago which is regarded as one of the glorious deeds in the history of recording. A remarkable CD reissue, also in terms of recording technology."
- Alan Blyth in "Gramophone", 12/1985: "In the tenor songs, Wunderlich, and certainly Araiza, cannot match Patzak, simply because of the older singer's way with the text; 'fest steh'n' in the opening song, 'Mir ist als wie im Traum', the line plaintive and the tone poignant, are simply unsurpassable. By any other yardstick, Wunderlich is a prized paragon, musical and vocally free. So truthful and natural is the sound on the revived EMI that it easily beats not only the mono Decca but also the too-recessed DG. With voice and orchestra in perfect relationship and everything sharply defined, the old methods of the 1960s have nothing to fear here from today's competition." [in comparison with the Patzak/Ferrier/Walter & Araiza/Giulini recordings]
- The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and Cassettes: "Klemperer's way with Mahler is at its most individual in Das Lied von der
Erde - and that will enthral some, as it must infuriate others. With slower speeds, the three tenor songs seem initially to lose some of their sparkle
and humour; however, thanks to superb expressive singing by the late Fritz Wunderlich, and thanks also to pointing of rhythm by Klemperer himself, subtle but always clear, the comparative slowness will hardly worry anyone intent on hearing the music afresh, as Klemperer intends. As for the mezzo songs, Christa Ludwig sings them with a remarkable depth of expressiveness; in particular, the final Abschied has the intensity of a great occasion. Excellent digitally remastered recording (1967 vintage)." [on EMI CDC 7 47231 2]
- Volkmar Fischer in "FonoForum", 11/1997: "Fritz Wunderlich's interpretation of the 'Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde' is probably the most perfect that has ever been recorded. In his singing, heart and mind are balanced out supremely well; he changes between heroic and lyric expression in a tremendously flexible way. He outstandingly shows the contrast between the first and second subject of the exposition: between the two poles 'lively, lashing, exuberant enthusiasm' on the one hand and 'mild, restrained, grim fatalism' on the other hand. Wunderlich, with a disarming naturalness, articulates most accurately. With Wunderlich using his fairytale voice brilliantly, even at the uncomfortably light high vocals, it is never perceptible how difficult the song is. His rendering of the refrain is moving, with a melody that is somewhat depressingly leading downwards, directing towards the verse 'Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod'. Otto Klemperer is the conductor in this famous recording, which is plain and simple the best interpretation of the work on record to this day."
- Henrik Engelbrecht in Gramophone's "International Opera Collector", Spring 1998: "In November 1964, Wunderlich was in London for the only EMI recording still to come - one that goes right to the top of my desert island list - Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. ... Because it is often sung by strained and stiff heldentenors, it is a relief to hear the three songs with the perfect mixture of a forward, beautifully lyric sound combined with a powerful, flexible and full-scaled interpretation. Wunderlich is in complete control of the dynamic demands made by Mahler, ranging from the electrifying vision of the howling ape in the first song to the solemn description of the little pond with the green pavilion made of porcelain in the third."
- Classical CD Nottingham recommendation, 1999: "Klemperer gives a heartfelt and searching interpretation of this hauntingly beautiful and at times achingly poignant masterpiece. Klemperer's tempi are as usual spacious and in the tenor songs this occasionally brings a loss of sparkle. However Wunderlich's powerfully projected singing, added to Klemperer's pointing of rhythm and his meticulous detailing of this remarkable and lucid score, adds depth and gravitas. Ludwig is
deeply expressive in the mezzo songs and in the final Abschied there is an awesome sense of melancholy and tragedy that places this
performance as one of the finest on disc."
- Edith Eisler at the "amazon.com" website, 1999?: "... Among the work's many recordings, this is certainly one of the best. The orchestra is splendid; its wonderfully transparent sound, together with Klemperer's extremely leisurely, deliberate tempi, allows many apparently brand-new lines and details to come out and gives the second tenor solo a strikingly Chinese character. Moreover, the singers can be clearly heard, and they are incomparable: vocally glorious, musically deeply
involved, sensitive to every expressive nuance and subtlety of words and music, they follow Mahler to the heights and depths of emotion,
making the performance an overwhelming, unforgettable experience."
- Richard Wigmore in "Gramophone", 02/1999: "After singing the piece many times in the interim, in 1964 he made the famous recording with Klemperer and summed up his experience with the old Maestro as 'like learning to sing Mahler first-hand.' If Patzak brought a greater inwardness and subtlety of accent to the three tenor numbers, no one on disc has ever equalled Wunderlich's beauty of tone, his desperate youthful abandon in the two drinking songs or his grace and tenderness in the central 'Youth'."
- T. J. Medrek in "Boston Herald", 1999-03-28:
"Conductor Otto Klemperer's justly famous recording of Mahler's 'Das Lied von der Erde' ('The Song of the Earth'), recorded in several sessions from 1964 to 1966, remains the standard. Few singers have ever approached mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig and tenor Fritz Wunderlich in this music, and Klemperer conducts as if channeling the composer himself. This 'Das Lied' has been out on CD before, but the latest remastering techniques have added spaciousness and clarity to the slightly boxy sound of the previous release." [on EMI EMI 5 66944 2; taken from: 'Classical CDs maintain quality if not quantity - Critic At Large']
- Michael Rolles, 2000: "This is the reference recording of the work. No other tenor has succeeded in mastering this diffcult part - especially the first song - with such vocal naturality and youthfulness. Fritz Wunderlich's
exceptional class is quite clearly recognizable by this recording. Posterity can be lucky that there is
this documentary recording, not at least because of the conducting of Otto Klemperer -a Mahler disciple- and the
co-laboration of Christa Ludwig whose contralto voice radiates 'Fülle und Wohllaut.'"[comment submitted to this website; translated by A.P.]
|If you know this recording, feel free to add your own comment!|
|EMI CDC 7 47231 2
|EMI 5 66944 2 (Great recordings of he Century)
|EMI 5 66892 2 ("Full digital remastering")
|Electrola SMA 91639
|Electrola SMC 91639
|Electrola 1C 065-00065
|EMI AN 179 (Angel)
|EMI SAN 179 (Angel)
|EMI 2C 069-00065
|EMI EL 290440-1
|EMI S-38234 (Angel)
|World Record Club
|EMI EL 290440-4
Fritz Wunderlich Discography