Das Lied von der Erde is one of Mahler's best works, truly soul-searching and deeply poignant. All six movements show a master at work, but the longest movement Der Abschied is the one that makes the most emotional impact. This is a beautiful performance in so many ways. Humphrey Burton's video directing is unobtrusive and sensitive, though could have done with more of Bernstein on major cues. The sound quality doesn't hinder the masterful music in any way, there isn't quite the sense that you're there in the orchestra quality heard in Karajan's DVD performance of Beethoven's Choral but it's very close. The orchestra sound very well-rehearsed and seemed more than able to allow the powerful moments to ring out and the more reflective passages to be as sensitive as possible. The sounds and textural balances are fine too, the strings are delicate and sweeping, the woodwind show capability of pathos and telling urgency(the oboes are particularly good) and the brass positively boom. Leonard Bernstein's conducting shows great musicianship and a sense of bringing real depth to Mahler's music, it already is emotional stuff that is taken to even more with Bernstein. Tempos are well-suited for the movements(Der Abschied is full of personable pathos but doesn't feel too funereally slow), and his manner and deportment personal and with a couple of subtle playful moments(ie. in the difficult fast section of Von Der Schonheit his facial expression was like thank goodness she's made it). Rene Kollo's voice sounds strong and sturdy, it's a good youthful sound- this was when Kollo was singing operettas- that doesn't sound as reedy as it would come. Some of the heavier passages shows instances of strain, but when he sings in a reflective way it is fabulous. Christa Ludwig is mesmerising singing throughout with a firm creamy tone, spot-on intonation and a real connection with the music and words. Especially great was Der Abschied, usually something that many prefer baritones to sing but when Ludwig sings it any reservations are completely obliterated. To conclude, a beautiful performance of an equally beautiful piece. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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