Karen Cargill - Mahler: Lieder - BBC Music Magazine
Once again, Alma is outnumbered by Gustav. But the five songs offered here show exactly why Mahler saw his wife as a real rival, stopped her composing, then used publication of these very works to lure her back from her affair with Walter Gropius.
The opening chords of 'Die stille Stadt' immediately display exploratory, unsettling harmonic and emotional territory which Alma was hungry to explore. And Karen Cargill's beautifully integrated, smoky mezzo reveals the full stature of these songs, just as Simon Lepper relishes their fearless piano writing. 'In meines Vaters Garten' glitters like a Klimt dream of spring - and into its blossom intrudes that shadowy and prophetic presence of a world at war - as so often in Mahler's own songs.
The Lieder eines fohrenden Gesellen welcome the bright flare at the top of Cargill's mezzo; and here both she and Lepper really do grab the music by the throat, to more rewarding effect.