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Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn / Hampson

Album Summary

>Mahler, Gustav : Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Performer Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

This recording is being released for the Mahler Year 2011, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the composer's death and is Hampson's first ever studio recording of the orchestra version of Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Thomas Hampson now adds a special version (im Kammermusikton) of Des Knaben Wunderhorn to his huge Mahler discography.

Long regarded as the premier interpreter of the songs of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), Thomas Hampson will undertake more than 50 concerts featuring Mahler's songs in the 2010-11 season. Hampson is famously tied to his earlier Mahler recording with Leonard Bernstein for Deutsche Grammophon.

"Mahler’s music is a "sound cosmos" unto itself... It is a reflection of my own world, something that’s extraordinarily informative to me as human being." -Thomas Hampson

"Hampson arranges the songs to proceed through four different topic areas, and the result — with lesser-known and more familiar songs and themes intermingling — is a powerful experience. The sequence of "Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt" (later to become the third movement of the "Resurrection" Symphony) through "Revelge" and on to "Der Tamboursg'sell" is, frankly, unsettling, beginning with the protagonist's knowing, world-weary chuckle and ending with his broken heart. Hampson is backed by the Wiener Virtuosen, who, as principal players of the Vienna Philharmonic, live and breathe Mahler. The textures are transparent, intimate and maybe even risky for the players — or Hampson, or both. But the payoff is exquisite: a recording worth delving deeply into and a great way to cap off Mahler's anniversary year." -NPR

“[Hampson] refines his forces to those of the Wiener Virtuosen...This has the effect of creating a wonderfully fresh imaginative take on the songs...these slimmer forces really put a spring in the music's step...And his choice of tempos...is often inspired...A constantly absorbing recital.”-BBC Music

“no performer has ever had a more comprehensive knowledge of the manuscript sources...Instrumentally speaking, the results are fabulous...Long-term admirers should not expect the immaculate finish...of the singer's youth. Instead we have a more autumnal brand of vocalisation, one that arguably suits these feisty, individualistic songs of ordinary folk.”-Gramophone

“Mahler’s whole world is here, rendered in a fabulously piercing and tender performance...It’s partly to do with the reduced chamber scoring used by the Vienna soloists, which makes Mahler’s orchestral colours seem unusually vivid. But Hampson is also on superb form, catching the music’s emotional complication as well as its folk-like simplicity.”-The Telegraph

All Music Guide - V. Vasan
This distinguished album features renowned baritone Thomas Hampson with the stellar Wiener Virtuosen (soloists from the Vienna Philharmonic) on an album of gorgeous Mahler songs. In terms of quality of artistry, there is no debate here. Hampson's voice is a clear, beautiful baritone that always stays open and never gets murky, and the Virtuosen has exceptionally high-quality instruments, phrasing, and musicianship.

One needn't understand the words in "Trost im Unglück" in order to feel the singer's emotion, and his funereal mood in "Der Tambourg'sell" is unmistakable and captured perfectly. Hampson gets into character in each of these pieces, be it the Sentinel in "Der Schildwache Nachtlied" or the grim narrator in "Das irdische Leben." Underscoring each of these pieces are stunning cello lines, brass chords (such as in "Urlicht"), or orchestral sweeps. Not one single phrase has been neglected by the Virtuosen, which demonstrates a level of attention to detail. One might notice that Hampson's sound is not at his best in the "Rheinlegendchen," for though his baritone is bright, the flowing interpretation tends to dampen the diction, as it does in "Verlorne Müh'!" Sometimes his voice can lose precision, such as in the melismas in "Wer hat dies Liedel erdacht," which sound rather rambling and a bit sloppy. Hampson has a wide vibrato that can make for a rather spread sound, such as in "Revelge," and this may not be to everybody's taste. But Hampson's voice has such warmth, power, core, and expression that one cannot overlook these qualities. He understands his material, he feels it. His higher voice can be as lyrical as a tenor, such as when he sings "Im Rosengarten! Im grünen Klee" in "Der Schildwache Nachtlied," which is a nice musical contrast to the dramatic parts of the song that sound rather Wagnerian. "Lied des Verfolgten im Turm" shows off his diction, with every R rolled and every line phrased just so to interpret all of Mahler's moods. In sum, this is a solid choice for fans of Mahler, the Vienna Philharmonic, Thomas Hampson, or all three.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Franz Liszt-Zentrum, Raiding, Austria (03/2010/07/2010).



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Works Details

>Mahler, Gustav : Des Knaben Wunderhorn
  • Performer: Thomas Hampson
  • Ensemble: Wiener Virtuosen
  • Running Time: 3 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: ?/?1892-07/1898