SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Between life and Death: Songs and Arias by BACH, MAHLER, SCHUBERT, SCHUMANN, MOZART, BRAHMS, LOEWE, WEBER, WOLF, MENDELSSOHN, TCHAIKOVSKY – Christoph Pregardien, tenor/ Michael Gees, p. – Challenge (2 discs)

An old concept, tried and true, but always welcome when presented with such quality.

Published on July 14, 2011

Between life and Death: Songs and Arias by BACH, MAHLER, SCHUBERT, SCHUMANN, MOZART, BRAHMS, LOEWE, WEBER, WOLF, MENDELSSOHN, TCHAIKOVSKY – Christoph Pregardien, tenor/ Michael Gees, p. – Challenge (2 discs)

Between Life and Death: Songs and Arias by BACH, MAHLER, SCHUBERT, SCHUMANN, MOZART, BRAHMS, LOEWE, WEBER, WOLF, MENDELSSOHN, TCHAIKOVSKY – Christoph Pregardien, tenor/ Michael Gees, piano – Challenge Classics multichannel SACD 72324 (2 discs), 86:37 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:

According to the notes, Christoph Pregardien and Michael Gees took two years assembling this program. It is not a new concept—there have been many other collections revolving around death and mankind’s response to it. Yet this one picks and chooses not only from the traditional plethora of romantic songs by the usual suspect poets (Heine, Goethe, etc.) but also culls material from Bach cantatas, Weber’s Der Frieschutz, and a Mahler symphony! Quite a collection, and though I was curious and cautious when I first read the contents, it does work very well. Death is thought of and talked about on the first disc and actually makes an appearance on the second one. Take no notice of “Life” in the title, unless it refers to the one following death—it is the real subject here.

Pregardien is a wonderful singer and you can tell he believes strongly in this program by his committed and spectacularly rendered singing. Gees is equally adept in his “supporting” role (which is really tongue-in-cheek considering how massive a role it is) and Challenge supplies some perfectly balanced and gorgeously captured surround sound. Whoever thinks lieder recitals don’t benefit from surround sound should hear this excellent disc.

– Steven Ritter




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