The Times, 2 April 2017
Hugh Canning
Album of the week - MAHLER - Das Lied von der Erde
Long before he sang in one of Claudio Abbado’s last concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic, the German tenor told me of his ambition to sing all six “movements” that comprise Mahler’s valedictory “song-symphony”. The results throw a different perspective on a masterpiece more familiar in its versions for tenor and mezzo-soprano or baritone. Kaufmann certainly has the “baritonal” low notes to justify his decision, and the ringing tenorial top, but it’s a paradox that the more extrovert tenor songs — whose exemplary recording for Klemperer by the great Fritz Wunderlich Kaufmann acknowledges in a booklet interview — push him to his limits. There’s a sense of strenuousness that is absent from the sunny-voiced Wunderlich’s version. Kaufmann is more rewarding in the “baritone” songs, his eloquent diction always a pleasure, and with the nuance and sensibility of a great lieder singer. He has a Mahler orchestra par excellence in the Vienna Phil, and Nott captures the resignation of the final song, Der Abschied, matching Kaufmann’s acceptance of eternity in the closing pages. Not perfection, but this is a must-hear for Mahlerians.

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