The Scotsman, 16 Aug 2002
Susan Nickalls
Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde, Edinburgh 2002
Das Lied von der Erde
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
THESE late-night musical night-caps at the Usher Hall are fast becoming the hottest classical tickets in town. Mahler's Das Leid von der Erde (Song of the Earth) was to be his ninth symphony, but instead the superstitious composer gave a name to this symphony/song cycle hybrid, producing one of the most enduring and haunting works of the 20th century.

Schoenberg's arrangement of the piece for chamber ensemble has become equally popular over the years. This profound and intimate celebration of nature and the human spirit was given an inspired performance by the Edinburgh Festival Ensemble conducted by Garry Walker. Both tenor Jonas Kaufmann and mezzo-soprano Alice Coote delivered these songs based on eighth-century Chinese poems with clarity and brilliance. Kaufmann's more boisterous drinking songs alternated with the contemplative and mellow hymns to autumn sung by Coote. While the sparseness of the orchestral textures in this acoustic did not always support the tenor voice because of the orchestration, this didn't seem to matter in what was otherwise a sublime performance.

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