This is sheer enjoyment from start to finish. It deserves the highest possible praise.
For RCA Red Seal these two artists have been splendidly recorded. There is an interesting essay by Gerhaher in the booklet and full texts with English translations are provided. Michael Cookson, Musicweb-International
Christian Gerhaher is the outstanding Lieder singer of our time. His recordings of the art songs and song cycles by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Mahler possess reference status, and have been awarded many major prizes. In the UK alone his awards include the 2009 BBC Music Magazine Award for Vocal Performance, a Gramophone award in 2006, and in 2011 he won the Olivier Outstanding Achievement in Opera award.
This is the best Boulez recording in quite a while. He offers the canonic 12 Wunderhorn songs, meaning no Urlicht and no Das himmlische Leben in the original orchestration before it became the finale of the Fourth Symphony. You won't miss them. None of the songs are done as duets, and you won't be bothered by that either. The singing is exceptional: Magdalena Kozená combines a sweet timbre with plenty of personality and attention to the words; Christian Gerhaher's light, somewhat grainy baritone may not be to all tastes, but his unfailing musicality and his gusto (singing but never shouting) in the big "military" songs carries the day.
Through the medium of this remarkable and poignant five-movement work for voice and string quartet, the genesis of which dates from 1931-33, this exemplary disc affords us what is arguably the magnum opus of Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957). Ten poems by German Romantic poet Nikolaus Lenau (1802-50) inspire Schoeck's late-Romantic style to great heights and depths of feeling, deeply personal ones as the excellent sleeve notes elucidate, encompassed within an overall tenor of meditative darkness that allows those moments of musically lighter beauty a greater hair-raising intensity.
…Da das Werk einen umfangreichen Apparat an Sängern und Musikern erfordert, wird es selten aufgeführt und auch aufgenommen. Umso wichtiger ist diese Realisierung Helmuth Rillings, der erstklassige Sänger verpflichtet hat und souverän alle Bestandteile des riesigen musikalischen Apparates zu einer erschütternden Aufführung von ungemeiner Bildhaftigkeit vereinigt.