CHRISTOPHER MALTMAN, BARITONE, BENJAMIN ZANDER, CONDUCTOR, PHILHARMONIA ORCHESTRA; Mahler: "Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen"; Symphony No. 1 (Telarc)*** 1/2
Deseret Morning News, May 7, 2006
Benjamin Zander is an intelligent conductor with keen musicality who deserves greater recognition than he has received over his long career. He is an exceptional musician, especially when it comes to the German romantic repertoire.
His recordings of Gustav Mahler in particular reveal Zander to be an infinitely refined conductor with an innate feeling for and a deep understanding of this music. His interpretations convey the passion, intensity, drama and power of Mahler's music with subtlety and sensitivity.
Zander's Mahler recordings for Telarc have been consistently on the highest artistic order, frequently soaring above those by conductors of greater renown. His current release in his series of Mahler CDs features two early works, the "Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen" and the Symphony No. 1, and show Zander to be at the height of his interpretive skills. The "Lieder" are sung by baritone Christopher Maltman.
The conductor... saves the day. Zander's readings capture the emotional power of these songs without becoming maudlin. One feels the scorned lover's torment and suffering.
The "Lieder" were the thematic basis for several of Mahler's early symphonies, including, of course, his First, so pairing the two together makes musical sense.
Zander gives a well-crafted and marvelously delineated reading of the First that captures the intricacies and subtleties of the score. His interpretation goes to the heart of the music and plumbs its emotional depths.
The Philharmonia Orchestra plays both works radiantly. And in what is a wonderful collaboration, Zander elicits a nuanced and colorful performance, with the orchestra in turn responding to his direction instinctively and intuitively.