Swedish Mezzo-soprano and former winner of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, Katarina Karnéus is joined on this disc by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki to perform three of Gustav Mahler’s orchestral songs. As a composer, Gustav Mahler was absorbed by song and symphony as complementary genres deeply involved with each other. In his first symphony, Mahler included two themes from the song cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, originally scored for voice and piano, which he had recently composed to his own poems. It was perhaps the experience of orchestrating these themes in his symphony that a few years later inspired Mahler to create the version for voice and orchestra.
These recordings were made by Erato shortly before Barenboim took over as musical director at Chicago and were hailed at the time as the best possible foretaste of the partnership. Until recently they were available on Warner’s mid-price Elatus label but, despite the strong recommendations which they received in that form, such is the economic pressure of the times that they have now been further reduced to the budget-price Apex label.
Berio had an abiding fascination with reconciling the past and the present, which can be seen in his orchestral realisations of works by Mahler and Brahms, and most notably, in Rendering (1990), his typically creative completion of unfinished symphonic sketches by Schubert.
All those concerned with this Wanderer project are to be heartily congratulated. I will listen to this splendidly performed release again and again. (…) There are twenty four works on this disc. The vast majority of these are established in the standard repertoire but are presented here in a different guise by tenor Christoph Prégardien and the Ensemble Kontraste. The impressive Prégardien has a distinct baritonal quality to his lower register. Across the scores the concept of the Wanderer from German Romantic literature is a constant theme that works superbly well.