Related Reviews
New Criterion
'Cargill sang them [Alma Mahler's Funf Lieder] sensibly and beautifully.'
more >>
New York Times
'[Karen] possesses startling power and a creamy middle range...'
more >>
The Washington Post
'Alma's "In Meines Vaters Garten" brought out Cargill's luscious, full-bodied chest voice and her fluid sense of rubato, ably assisted by pianist Simon Lepper.'
more >>
The Absolute Sound
'...beautifully rendered by mezzo-soprano Cargill and captured by engineer Philip Hobbs with immediacy and a bit of an edge when the vocalist cranks it up.'
more >>
Herald Scotland
Pick of 2014: '...Karen Cargill released a breathtaking album of songs by Gustav and Alma Mahler...'
more >>
Herald Scotland
Top 50 Scottish Albums of 2014: #7 'Scotland's opera superstar mines incredible depth of emotion from these songs, as her mezzo-soprano range is sensitively matched by Simon Lepper's piano accompaniment.'
more >>
Fanfare
'The rising Scottish mezzo possesses a big, beautiful voice, which has the earned almost unanimous praise...Cargill's most heartfelt rendition is of Urlicht...'
more >>
Fanfare
'Karen Cargill has one of the creamiest mezzo voices I've heard in a long time...'
more >>
Luister
5 Stars
Luister 10: 'Adembenemend.' / 'Breathtaking.'
more >>
Opera News
'Splendid... Her liquid and often sensuous instrument retains a fine sheen throughout the program. There exist many admirable recorded versions of these two cycles; Cargill's have the virtue - rare at this point in recording history - of sounding unlike anybody else's.'
more >>
Fono Forum
,,Für die erste Gruppe von fünf Gesängen setzt sich die schottische Mezzosopranistin Karen Cargill ein, mit textlicher Akkuratesse und erfülltem Ausdruck. Als sensibler Begleiter fungiert Simon Lepper.''
more >>
Opera Magazine NL
'In de Rückert-Lieder laten beide kunstenaars mij naar adem happen, zo geweldig vind ik hun uitvoering.'
more >>
Classical Ear
4 Stars
'In absorbing all the fin de siècle passions of the poets she set Alma displayed a fine gift for lyric line and richly romantic accompaniment which Karen Cargill and Simon Lepper readily seize upon in their penetrating performances...'
more >>
International Record Review
'Karen Cargill's voice was made for Gustav's music, and we can now determine that it suits Alma's equally well.'
more >>
Gramophone (High Fidelity)
'This recital of Lieder by Mr & Mrs Mahler sung by Karen Cargill on Linn is a spine-tingling combination of performance and recording quality.'
more >>
Pizzicato
'Der Pianist Simon Lepper ist dagegen fantastisch. Sein Klavierspiel ist enorm feinfühlig und er geht das Wagnis ein, surreale Klänge und impressionistische Farben miteinzubringen, was insbesondere den Liedern von Alma Mahler gut tut.'
more >>
BBC Music Magazine
'And Karen Cargill's beautifully integrated, smoky mezzo reveals the full stature of these songs [by Alma], just as Simon Lepper relishes their fearless piano writing.'
more >>
The Observer
4 Stars
'Karen Cargill, warm, instinctive and golden-voiced, and Simon Lepper are responsive partners...'
more >>
Audiophile Audition
4 Stars
'The surround sound is superb, the singing radiant, and the Mahler versus Mahler side-by-side a wonderful programmatic initiative.'
more >>
Gramophone
'...luxurious radiance...Cargill expressive at every level, while still proudly displaying the full glory of her voice.'
more >>
The Herald Scotland
'Cargill is in sumptuous form, at the top of her game, and never more ravishingly voiced than in these glorious, heart-melting performances...'
more >>
The Scotsman
4 Stars
'...rich and radiant performances by Scots mezzo soprano Karen Cargill and pianist Simon Lepper.'
more >>
The Times
'It's expressive, bold music and Cargill sings it eloquently...'
more >>
BBC Radio 3 'CD Review'
'… mezzo Karen Cargill has just the emotional range these songs need, it’s a big voice, and pianist Simon Lepper underlines their passion. I like that they open the recital with Alma Mahler’s Five songs and such flirtatious freshness before the more familiar Gustav Mahler settings.'
more >>
All Music
4½ Stars
'Cargill is extraordinary in her control over the scope of these songs, sustaining them over their heavenly length while not breaking them out of their chamber dimensions… A superb job from a singer who is getting her due.'
more >>
SA-CD.net
4½ Stars
'Cargill performs them with great sensitivity and communicates a keen understanding of the texts. She is accompanied beautifully by Simon Lepper whose imaginative playing is ideally matched with Cargill's fine singing.'
more >>

Karen Cargill - Mahler: Lieder - MusicWeb International


01 September 2014
MusicWeb International
Göran Forsling

Alma Mahler's songs are no longer rare birds, either on the recital platform or on disc. That is good since they are certainly worth anyone's attention. The five songs on this disc were published in 1910; a further nine were also published during her lifetime and in 2000 another two.

Die stille Stadt is a song that grows every time I hear it and Laue Sommernacht is also highly evocative. The Rilke setting Bei dir ist es traut and the brief Heine setting Ich wandle unter Blumen are also worth a listen but it is In meines Vaters Garten by Otto Erich Hartleben that is the masterpiece with thrilling chromatics and a beautiful piano part. Whether Gustav had a finger in the pie when the songs were published is hard to know but he regarded them highly and regretted that he had forbidden her to compose after they got married.

Karen Cargill is an excellent advocate for Alma's songs. Her voice has youthful freshness and her affection for the songs is obvious.

When we move over to Gustav's songs we encounter a different sound-world, more distinctly personal but we must remember that Alma's songs were written before 1901 when she was hardly more than twenty.

The Rückert Lieder are commonly heard in the orchestral version but they were originally conceived for voice and piano. These are searching readings of the group. Not least Liebst du um Schönheit is marvellously sensitively sung. Um Mitternacht is very inward but the darker outbursts are truly intense and the final bars are spellbinding:
 
Herr! Herr über Tod und Leben
Du hälst die Wacht
Um Mitternacht!
 
(Lord! Ruler of life and death.
You have the watch,
At midnight.)

The magical opening of Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen makes me think of Janet Baker's two recordings with Barbirolli. No praise could be higher. Karen Cargill keeps the tension all through the song.

Her youthful timbre suits Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen to perfection. A springy and incisive Ging heut' morgen with ethereal and inward final lines signals a reading of the whole cycle that is a match for many other recordings of this oft-heard set ... and I wasn't disappointed. The intense and dramatic Ich hab' ein glühend Messer is perhaps the highlight.

Urlicht from the Second Symphony isn't exactly a song I have been longing to hear with piano accompaniment but to my surprise it worked excellently and it is a deeply felt reading.

Simon Lepper is a reliable accompanist and the whole disc should be an attractive buy, not least for those who haven't as yet found the way to Alma Mahler's songs.    
Bookmark and Share


Related Links

Karen CargillKaren Cargill
Simon LepperSimon Lepper
Alma & Gustav Mahler LiederAlma & Gustav Mahler Lieder