Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde / Nott, Sacca, Gadd, Bamberg Symphony

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During his time as Principal Conductor of the Bamberger Symphoniker (2000-2016) one of Jonathan Nott’s most significant ventures was the Mahler symphony cycle he recorded...
During his time as Principal Conductor of the Bamberger Symphoniker (2000-2016) one of Jonathan Nott’s most significant ventures was the Mahler symphony cycle he recorded for Tudor. Right at the end of his tenure in Bamberg he has added Das Lied von der Erde.

I’ve heard Stephen Gadd on several occasions, both on disc and live, and generally to good effect though I’ve not experienced him in an undertaking such as this. Roberto Saccà, however, is a singer whose work I’ve not previously experienced. He makes a good impression. His fine, ringing tenor is heard to good advantage in ’Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde’ and he puts over well the drinker’s air of desperation to be merry. He also conveys an element of longing at “Das Firmament blaut ewig” and the grotesque passage about the ape is convincingly done both by Saccà and the orchestra. Saccà displays a pleasingly light touch in his second song, ‘Von der Jungend’ and here he benefits from Jonathan Nott’s sprightly tempo. I much prefer this to the sturdy speed that Klemperer adopts in his classic account of the work in which his tenor is Fritz Wunderlich (review). The Tudor performance is nimble and I very much approve. In his final song, ‘Der Trunkene im Frühling’ Saccà again offers excellent ringing tone where it’s appropriate but he’s also successful in the passages which call for a more gently lyrical style . He also shows imagination in the way he characterises the episode concerning the bird.

We must also take into account the orchestral playing and the conducting. The Bamberger Symphoniker are seriously impressive. This is a very exposed score yet it never feels that way and the playing is consistently refined. All the solo playing is excellent but I must single out for special praise the superb flautist in ‘Der Abschied’. Jonathan Nott has the measure of this score, it seems to me and I think he conducts it extremely well. He brings out the details in the score without any exaggeration.

There’s another feature of this release that calls for comment: the recorded sound. I’ve heard several Tudor discs and I’m regularly impressed with the results their engineers achieve. This recording is definitely up to the standards of the house. I listened to this hybrid SACD using the stereo option as I don’t have surround sound facilities. I found the sound to be truthful and very natural throughout. The details of Mahler’s ever-subtle and imaginative orchestration register beautifully and everything is very well balanced. One detail that I must mention is the tam-tam in ‘Der Abschied’. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the instrument so magnificently caught in a recording. Even the softest strokes of all register marvellously. At all dynamic levels the tam-tam is presented with spine-tingling realism here.

I’m bound to say I wish Jonathan Nott had opted for the more usual choice of a mezzo in this recording and that’s no reflection on Stephen Gadd’s singing. I just think a female voice can convey so many more nuances than a baritone. Nonetheless, this account of Das Lied von der Erde is not to be underestimated and it’s presented in marvellous sound. Those who have been following Jonathan Nott’s Mahler symphony cycle will be glad he’s added Das Lied to it.

– MusicWeb International (John Quinn)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: March 03, 2017

  • UPC: 812973012023

  • Catalog Number: TUDOR7202

  • Label: Tudor

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: ""

  • Composer: Gustav Mahler

  • Conductor: Jonathan Nott

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Bamberg Symphony Orchestra

  • Performer: Roberto Saccà, Stephen Gadd