Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Schäfer sings Mahler 4 with Haitink

Christine Schäfer sings Mahler 4/4 on Saturday at the Barbican with Haitink and the LSO. This is one I've been waiting for for months, because I like her light, clean voice, very "white" which suits the nature of the piece. In fact I like this kind of clarity in Mahler in general. On the Boulez recording of Mahler 2 she's ethereal and almost steals the show though the soprano part is fairly short. This clip comes from her perfomance of the 4th Symphony with Haitink and the Concertgebouw. I'm not sure of the exact date because they must have performed it together several times. There's a good recording from 2006. Obviously, it's not a smart idea to micro compare performances as each one differs every time, but this is a nice taster. She looks so tense in the film, in that black suit, but sounds fine. Listen to the poised way she slows down on "tausend Jungfrauen", like the way dancers dip in some graceful dance.

The other day someone told me they heard someone say they didn't like Mahler 4 because it was "too light". But the child in the song is dead, and the 11000 virgins were massacred. It's not a "happy" symphony, charming as it is. Sometimes sopranos sing this with more gusto, which is fine because it is sensuous - all that food! Please see my earlier posts on Mahler 4th especially the one "Why greedy kids in Mahler 4" Schäfer doesn't look greedy but that's OK, there are many ways of singing this, and her way is good for creating the idea of a child no longer of this world.

1 comment:

Mark Berry said...

She was wonderful when I heard her do this - and some of the Wunderhorn Lieder - with Boulez during the Mahler Zyklus, definitely one of the sdries highlights. Both she and Boulez truly understood the 'as if' quality of the symphony, appreciating that it is childlike, but not quite, full of wonder but still sophisticated.