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Prophetic merit

Thomas Hampson sings Mahler's 'Des Knaben Wunderhorn' -
appreciated by TESS CREBBIN

'... a stunning visual and auditory experience.'

Hampson sings Mahler. © 2004 TDK Mediactive

A world-class baritone has a new DVD out, and already the musicology mailing lists on the internet are running hot with requests from the United States -- where they cannot get it yet -- for European list-members to tell all about it.

Thomas Hampson, Vienna-based baritone from Indiana, is in the enviable position that his every new release becomes a bestseller and this one will most likely not be an exception. The secret of Hampson's phenomenal success lies in his unique combination of exceptional voice, good looks, and considerable talent as an actor and performer.

Gustav Mahler is the composer Hampson loves most of all, and so, when he takes on Des Knaben Wunderhorn with his celebrated accompanist Wolfram Rieger who stems from Bavaria, the result is a stunning visual and auditory experience. The baritone has a long-standing relationship with the Wunderhorn, having been the one to bring out the première recording of the Mahler Original Piano Versions, on a Teldec CD (9031-74726-2) in 1994, accompanied by Geoffrey Parsons. On Jason Starr's recent Mahler Third DVD documentary, What the Universe Tells Me, Hampson explained and performed quotes from Des Knaben Wunderhorn that appear in the symphony. In 1989, he brought out another Teldec CD, devoted to Wunderhorn settings by various composers. So he is one of the foremost experts on this particular song cycle.

'Our lives would be infinitely less rich and knowledgeable if we didn't have this book of poems,' Hampson explains on the new DVD, 'and our musical world would be infinitely less interesting if Mahler had not decided to make these fantastic songs that have so many musical possibilities to talk about as well, that took song literature right out of the hands of Schumann and put it into the hands of the twentieth century.'

Hampson will be in Munich on 15 July 2004 at the Herkulesaal for a recital -- but, whether you are living in Munich or not, it is advisable to get the DVD if you want to see Hampson and Wolfram Rieger in action. Not surprisingly, the concert is completely sold out, with only a few tickets remaining, meaning single seats, and of these only a handful. There will be no press reviews except from the four local Munich papers -- with seats being so much in demand, the organizers have decided to restrict press tickets only to the biggest local newspapers. Keeping all of that in mind, the DVD is a good substitute for the real thing, because it is rather well done.

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Copyright © 3 July 2004 Tess Crebbin, Munich, Germany


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