“Gustav Mahler's name conjours sound worlds of immense proportions – huge symphonies of a thousand players, marshaling vast forces of musicians and an enormous panoply of instruments. Lovingly re-thought by Arnold Schoenberg, the two pieces on this recording are presented in jewel box versions, transcribed by Schoenberg for his Society of Private Musical Performances: Schoenberg undertook the amazing task of re-imagining Song of the Earth (Das Lied von der Erde) and Songs of a Wayfarer (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen) for a chamber ensemble. These intimate settings retain extraordinary power, as if these chamber landscapes are even more emotionally searing, distilled to the very essence of the poignancy of Mahler’s vision.”
– JoAnn Falletta, conductor
We take this opportunity to turn the spotlight on one of the distinguished soloists featured on this recording: baritone Roderick Williams. He adds here to a growing Naxos discography that displays his commanding voice in performances of music ranging from Britten to Butterworth, Finzi, Kenneth Fuchs, Vaughan Williams and Howells. Scroll down to enjoy a selection of audio clips.
Arnold Schoenberg founded the Society for Private Musical Performances in 1918 to perform contemporary music from ‘Mahler to the present’. Mahler had been an early supporter of Schoenberg’s music, and Schoenberg repaid the favour by arranging Mahler’s orchestral works for chamber ensemble and including them at the society’s concerts. The colourful Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen are given a feel of great intimacy in this form, while the lighter scoring of Das Lied von der Erde has the advantage of clarifying instrumental textures, its magical effects capturing ‘the finite nature of earthly things’.
Listen to Roderick Williams in an extract from Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer:
No. 2. Ging heut’ Morgen übers Feld (I Went This Morning Over the Field)
About the Artists
JoAnn Falletta is music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and Virginia Symphony and principal guest conductor of the Brevard Music Center of North Carolina. She has guest conducted over 100 orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Recipient of the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award, winner of the Stokowski Competition, and the Toscanini, Ditson and Bruno Walter conducting awards, Falletta has also received twelve ASCAP awards and served on the U.S. National Council on the Arts.
Mezzo-soprano Susan Platts is a celebrated Mahlerian who has performed the composer's Second and Eighth Symphonies, as well as Das Lied von der Erde, with noted orchestras around the world, in North America, Europe and Asia. Her opera roles include Erda in Das Rheingold at Pacific Opera Victoria, and Florence Pike in Albert Herring at the Vancouver Opera.
Roderick Williams enjoys relationships with all the major British opera houses and is particularly associated with the baritone roles of Mozart. He has sung world premières of operas by, among others, David Sawer, Sally Beamish, Michael van der Aa, Robert Saxton and Alexander Knaifel. He is also an accomplished recital artist who can be heard at major venues and festivals.
Charles Reid is the recipient of awards from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, Loren L. Zachary Foundation, Marjorie Lawrence International Vocal Competition and more. In addition to an active performance schedule, he is associate professor of voice and artist-in-residence at Andrews University, and producer and host of the This Opera Life podcast.
The Attacca Quartet is one of America’s leading young performing ensembles. They were First Prize winners of the 7th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition (2011), top prizewinners and Listeners’ Choice Award recipients in the 2011 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, and winners of the Alice Coleman Grand Prize at the 60th annual Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition (2006).
Since 1997, the Virginia Arts Festival has transformed the cultural scene in southeastern Virginia, presenting great performers from across the globe to both local audiences and visitors from across the United States and around the world. It has presented numerous world premières and new productions of classical music, dance, and theatre from some of today’s most influential composers, choreographers and playwrights.
“One could hardly wish for a better showcase than these three items by Britten ... Williams has such a wondrous voice to show off. Burnside’s piano accompaniments are just as pleasing. Britten would have been pleased.”
– American Record Guide
Listen to an extract from Songs and Proverbs of William Blake:
VIII. The Tyger
“Fuchs is blessed here to work with the baritone Roderick Williams, whose honeyed voice and keen intelligence shine through in everything he touches, here and elsewhere. The recording is exemplary.”
Listen to an extract from Falling Man:
Aria No. 1 -
“Baritone Roderick Williams’ performances are an absolute joy throughout, and his easy way with the light yet subtle tone of the folk songs ought to be commended to singers in all voice ranges … Williams’ diction is clear, and the engineering at Suffolk’s Potton Hall is top-notch.”
Listen to an extract from 6 Songs from A Shropshire Lad:
No. 4. Think no more, lad
“[Sir Patrick Spens] receives a committed, dashing performance. Roderick Williams, as the eponymous hero, sings with his customary distinction. This splendid first recording gives it an excellent chance of proper appreciation at long last.”
– MusicWeb International