Vladimir Jurowski is a notable Mahler interpreter so a new recording of Mahler’s great symphonic song cycle Das Lied von der Erde is welcome; especially when Jurowski’s own Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin is combined with soloists as fine as Sarah Connolly and Robert Dean Smith.
What one gets is some superbly lyrical and detailed orchestral playing. It doesn’t emphasise the dramatic but it’s exciting enough and “big” enough to tax the soloists in places. I’m always a bit torn about whether I prefer the majesty of Mahler’s original scoring or the greater intimacy of Schoenberg’s chamber reduction. Certainly the full orchestral version requires really top notch soloists and this recording has them. Connolly is especially good and sounds absolutely ravishing in the Abschied. She seems totally in control with delicate singing, great articulation of the text and no sense of strain. Robert Dean Smith sounds suitably ardent and is very clear though showing some signs of strain in Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde but then who doesn’t?
This album was recorded live at the Philharmonie, Berlin, on 14th October 2018 and sounds very vivid with a realistic balance of singers and orchestra. I listened to the uncompressed digital version (.wav) but the physical release is a hybrid SACD so multi-channel is there for those who can play it. There’s a generous booklet with full texts and translations, Jurowski’s thoughts on the piece and a longish explanatory essay.
All in all, a recording worthy to stand alongside the classic versions of this work.