Karen Cargill - Mahler: Lieder - Gramophone

Glasgow-based Linn Records continues to do well by its Scottish artists. As anybody who has heard Karen Cargill in 19th-century opera (Waltraute in Götterdämmerung a speciality) knows, this is a bronze-tinted mezzo of Wagnerian amplitude. Occasionally, her new disc reveals a small loss of quality when she is singing quietly; but for the most part this Mahler-family recital, like her previous outing for Linn - a recording of Berlioz's Les nuits d'été with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (6:13) - finds Cargill expressive at every level, while still proudly displaying the full glory of her voice.

It is good to see Alma Mahler's songs getting equal billing alongside those of her husband. The Fünf Lieder, published in 1910, include some of her most accomplished songs and Cargill's richly coloured singing is well attuned to their cusp-of-the-Romantic era atmosphere. The second song, 'In meines Vaters Garten', matches a poem of fairy-tale simplicity to music saturated with post-Tristan rapture, and Cargill and her accompanist, Simon Lepper, do not hold back on its luxurious radiance. The Rückert-Lieder start out a touch heavy-handedly ('Blicke mir' too rushed), but soon settle upon the requisite sensitivity. The closing stanza of 'Ich bin der Welt', floated on the softest pp, is especially lovely. The Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen encompass a wide range of emotion and Cargill tears into the fury of 'Ich hab' ein glühend Messer' (a recording with orchestra surely beckons).

Among recommendations for the Alma Mahler songs, Cargill is as inspiring as anybody.

01 July 2014