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  BIS -
  Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde - Shui
  Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde (in Chinese)

Ning Liang (mezzo-soprano)
Warren Mok (tenor)
Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Lan Shui (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Vocal
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 2

Reviews: 2

Review by Geohominid November 4, 2007 (12 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Review by beardawgs January 16, 2008 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is unfortunately nothing more than a curiosity - for the same reason we don't have any Peking opera translated into English (or German), 'Das Lied' should have been left as it is language-wise. Shame for missed opportunity from BIS to give us such a high quality audio recording married with singing to match and in the original language. Natural declamatory rhythm and meter of German language has been lost. We shouldn't forget that Mahler uses singing and language not just to verbalise the idea, but as a separate, almost instrumental melodic line, and losing consonants on a large scale robs the music of many of its rhythmic qualities and sharpness. I was annoyed pretty much instantaneously with a long string of vowels making vocal phrases never ending (seemingly leaving singers breathless) and unrecognisable, missing punch, regardless do you understand German original or not.

Performance wise I was rather pleasantly surprised with the orchestra and conductor, unknown to me so far. Transparent and naturally dynamic BIS recording adds to the pleasure of hearing Mahler's complex and colourful orchestration. Some missing subtleties aside, this is a rather exuberant 'Lied' in the fast movements, not as lugubrious in the slow ones as it probably should be, but with the whole linguistic concept misfired so badly, I wouldn't even worry about that. Oh, yes, the whole enterprise is on a rather slow(ish) side, but in my book that can only be a plus point for this work.

Of a much bigger concern are the singers. Throaty tenor pushes his voice far to much (and unsuccessfully) to overcome the orchestra, while the mezzo sounds most of the time as if she is recorded in a separate room, quieter and with much larger acoustics - the colour of the voice might be suitable, but her expression can't really be properly judged. By and large placed well behind the orchestra, her perspective few times literally jumps right at the front, as if she is moving around while singing. By the time I reached the end of the disc I was under the impression that the orchestra was on purpose given the leading (and acoustically more clear/brilliant) role, while the singers were muffled and pushed behind, not a big deal probably when most of us won't understand what are they singing about anyway.

All in all I'm not going to dismiss this disc all together. Orchestral playing and the recorded sound are above the average, the dynamics, perspective, transparency are all very well indeed. This is definitely not to be anyone's sole recording of the work, but as a curious idea it has its place right next to the French back-translated version of Strauss' Salome. Well, sort of... Singing leaves a lot to be desired, but I'm keen to give the singers some credit on managing to fit their awkward linguistics into the unidiomatic orchestral writing. This recording didn't give me any further insight into Mahler's genius, but if opens up his musical world to anyone east of Russia, well done.

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Works: 1  

Gustav Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde