The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (300): True Mahler

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (300): True Mahler


norman lebrecht

January 31, 2021

Gustav Mahler’s most self-revealing song.



  • Leo Doherty says:

    Absolutely beautiful. I thought I arrived in heaven this morning.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Wonderful. And a wonderful song.

    Mahler was stronger in his songs and entirely free works like ‘Das Lied von der Erde’ than in his attempts at grandiose symphonic writing – except the 1st mvt of the 9th and the 10th. The movements of the symphonies which escaped his attempts at Beethovenianisation are also the best.

  • Patrick says:

    Only Janet Baker & John Barbirolli.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Baker is truly great, Patrick, but so are Ferrier and Ludwig.
      I wouldn’t put any of them ahead of the others. All are sublime.

  • Herbie G says:

    Yes, a priceless voice and recording. Her performance of ‘Das Lied von der Erde’ with Julius Patzak and the VPO conducted by Walter must also surely rank as an all-time great recording. Decca’s (mono) sound is excellent for its time – far better than that of the bone-dry RCA Toscanini NBC recordings made at about the same time. ‘Das Abschied’ is particularly poignant as not only was Ferrier aware of her potentially fatal illness at the time of the recording but her health was already severely undermined by major surgery. With only another fifteen months left to her, she struggled on against all odds but it seems beyond doubt that the intensity of her performance was enhanced by her knowledge that this was her own ‘abschied’.

    • Eric says:

      More gender problems – hate to be picky, but it’s der Abschied. All the performances mentioned are wonderful.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Abschied is male because it was mostly the males that took leave of females. 19C proposals to change it to Die Abschied failed to find enough support, because there were not enough females leaving their husband, upon whom they were economiccaly dependent.

    • Nick says:

      Aber, “der” Abschied, sorry for noting.

  • E says:

    Let me only second Leo Doherty’s sentiment. It rare beginning to this grey Sunday. Sublime. Thank you.

  • Spyros says:

    As much that I love Ferrier, it is only in Baker’s rendition that the dreamy/ eerie texture of this composition is accurately captured

  • Ashu says:

    Most dear to me of all his songs, and in that I certainly can’t be alone.

  • Ashu says:

    Wonderful, and the running text and translation is excellent. Very grateful for this share.

  • The Ghost of Karlos Cleiber says:

    A really marvellous song in every way. I must say I’ve never liked Ferrier’s voice but recognise plenty of others do. Many more fine performers to choose from, of course.

  • Nick says:


  • Eli Weidenfeld says:

    Touching! Thank you for sharing. Rückertlieder with Ferrier and Walter was one of my first introductions to Mahler’s music some 60 years ago – and I almost got “addicted” to it at the time.