“Song of the Land” by Mahler and Christa Ludwig


According to what was compiled in Alma Mahler's memoirs, Mahler was impressed by a collection of poems sent to him and began working on it. Today, we know the aforementioned poetry collection as “Das Lied Von Der Erde”, that is, “The Song of the Land”. Among dozens of different recordings, this recording under the conductorship of Otto Klemperer has become a very popular version.

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest reasons for this is that the name Christa Ludwig is included in the recording as one of the leading roles. I found this recording very appropriate to commemorate the mezzo-soprano Ludwig, who passed away with sad news last April 24. This album, labeled Warner Classics, where the German artist brings his dramatic talent to its peak, is an experience everyone should experience. If we were to talk about the content of Mahler's work, the collection of poems that got into the hands of the composer was the “Chinese Flute” series, compiled and/or translated by Hans Bethge, published that year.

Mahler began working on the piece in Töblach, where he spent the summer of 1908, and completed its orchestration the following fall. Although the work is influenced by the Far East, we cannot say that it contains Far Eastern influences in music. The song of the earth is in the form of an orchestral suite sung by tenor and alto, despite the title Mahler gave it. In the recording we are talking about, Ludwig voices this character, whose original is alto, in a mezzo-soprano voice pitch.

The work consists of six chapters;

1- “Das Trinklied von Jammer der Erde” / “Drinking song for the misery of the earth” (8'06”)
2- “Der Einsame im Herbst” / “Autumn Solitude” (10'10”)
3- “Von der Jugend” / “From Youth” (3'43”)
4- “Von der Schönheit” / “From Beauty” (7'47”)
5- “Der Trunkene im Frühling” / “Drunken in Spring” (4'47”)
6- “Der Abscheid” / “Farewell” (29'32”)


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