Related Reviews
New Criterion
'Cargill sang them [Alma Mahler's Funf Lieder] sensibly and beautifully.'
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New York Times
'[Karen] possesses startling power and a creamy middle range...'
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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.'
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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.'
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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.'
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Herald Scotland
Pick of 2014: '...Karen Cargill released a breathtaking album of songs by Gustav and Alma Mahler...'
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Luister
5 Stars
Luister 10: 'Adembenemend.' / 'Breathtaking.'
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Fanfare
'Karen Cargill has one of the creamiest mezzo voices I've heard in a long time...'
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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...'
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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.''
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Opera Magazine NL
'In de Rückert-Lieder laten beide kunstenaars mij naar adem happen, zo geweldig vind ik hun uitvoering.'
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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...'
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MusicWeb International
'Karen Cargill is an excellent advocate for Alma's songs. Her voice has youthful freshness and her affection for the songs is obvious.'
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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.'
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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.'
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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.'
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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.'
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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 - Opera News


01 November 2014
Opera News
David Shengold

Karen Cargill made a fine impression in her Met debut as the Götterdämmerung Waltraute in April 2012. Anna in Les Troyens the following December proved another excellent, spirited performance. The rich-voiced Scottish mezzo is slated to return to the house as Wagner's Magdalene in next month's Meistersingervon Nürnberg; otherwise, orchestral and recital dates at prestigious venues occupy much of her current schedule.

Gustav Mahler is one of the composers Cargill's talents often serve. On Linn Records's splendid new recital, she and her frequent recital accompanist Simon Lepper offer two of Mahler's best-known cycles (Rückert Lieder and Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen), plus the "Urlicht" section from the Second Symphony - and, for contrast and comparison, five lyric works by Alma Mahler. The renowned Alma, née Schindler, lived from 1879 to 1964, surviving two world wars and ultimately attending Leonard Bernstein's New York Philharmonic rehearsals of Gustav Mahler's works. For some decades, she was best known for her affairs with painter Oskar Kokoschka and others and for her post-Mahler marriages to architect Walter Gropius and novelist Franz Werfel. In recent decades, some singers - including Charlotte Margiono and Lilli Paasikivi, who have recorded the songs in full - have given audiences the chance to hear Alma Mahler's work as a composer. A student of Alexander von Zemlinsky (another of her conquests), Alma wrote and worked on songs and other compositions. Marriage to Gustav Mahler in November 1901 brought a stop to her creative activities - his arrogance dictated that - but her husband did arrange publication of several of Alma's songs in 1910. She may well have resumed song-writing after his death; more works appeared in print in 1915 and 1924. (Three more surfaced in manuscript after her death, two of which were published in 2000.)

Cargill offers the Five Songs published in 1910, some setting words by such fin de siècle contemporaries as Richard Dehmel, Rainer Maria Rilke and Otto Erich Hartleben (the translator of Pierrot Lunaire). Like Zemlinsky's songs, these are tuneful, harmonically playful and professionally worked - pleasant rather than epochal, but worth encountering, especially given the nuanced, lovely vocalism they receive here. Cargill has a fairly substantial voice that never seems to strain, even on full-out numbers such as (Gustav's) "Um Mitternacht." Yet she reveals a full spectrum of dynamics in addition to noteworthy breath control. Her interpretations are never heavy-handed or theatrically demonstrative; she achieves her results with clearly and intelligently projected words and a remarkable range of tone color - the lightness of a soprano when needed, but also considerable genuine mezzo depth. 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. Lepper, among the busier of the younger generation of British collaborative pianists, shows a sure, measured touch in the most challenging passages and deserves equal credit for the musical sophistication and sensitivity that make this disc so rewarding.


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