Christian Gerhaher has recorded the Rückert songs before, with piano. But here he sings them in their now more familiar orchestral form, in performances taken from concerts with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony last year. Admirers of Gerhaher's lieder singing won't need any encouragement to listen to this disc. They'll marvel once again at the astonishing range of colour and inflection he applies to every phrase, from the veiled smokiness of the opening of Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen to the heroic affirmation of the final bars of Um Mitternacht in the Rückert Lieder, sometimes bleaching his tone so completely that the effect comes close to Sprechgesang. Nagano provides perfectly manicured accompaniments, too, though occasionally, as in the second of the Kindertotenlieder, the tempo seems fractionally too slow. Yet against that are myriad instances when the essence of a song seems perfectly captured, whether it's the childlike lilt of Wenn Dein Mutterlein in Kindertotenlieder, or the other-worldly repose of Ich Bin der Welt at the end of the Rückert set.
Mahler: Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen; Rückert Lieder; Kindertotenlieder – review