For her first solo recital on harmonia mundi, Christiane Karg, alongside her faithful partner Malcolm Martineau, presents an incursion into the most intimate aspect of Mahler’s music: the songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn take us to the heart of the composer’s creative process, as do the songs from his youth and the later Rückert-Lieder.
Two of these pieces (including the famous Das himmlische Leben from Symphony no.4) are accompanied by… Mahler himself, thanks to the achievement of the incredible Welte-Mignon piano rolls which, at the very start of the Twentieth Century, captured his playing far better than any other recording device of the period could.
Gramophone Magazine November 2020
Karg’s artistry, distinguished by natural intelligence and vivid sense of communication, is an ideal complement to Martineau’s. Her voice is beautiful, more velvety than diamantine, and, with her supremely sensitive partner, she never has need to push it...This is lieder performance of wonderful freshness and intelligence; a delightful album, highly recommended.
Presto Classical 23rd October 2020
In Mahler’s hands, phrases which are usually reassuringly regular and lilting veer off in unexpected directions or are brought up short by a sudden ‘emergency stop’...the eccentric spirit of this final track haunts the entire recital: from the beguiling opening account of ‘Rheinlegendchen’ onwards, I was struck by Martineau’s very liberal use of rubato and pointed off-beat accents as well as some break-neck accelerandos, all of which apparently take their cue from the composer’s own interpretation of the last song. Katherine Cooper
The Guardian 5th November 2020
Karg’s clear, bright soprano is better suited to the more pictorial Wunderhorn settings than to some of the more inward-looking Rückert songs, but her singing is always acutely sensitive, and she ends the disc with a fascinating novelty, two songs in which she is “accompanied” by Mahler himself.