C0072. MAUREEN FORRESTER & RICHARD LEWIS, w. Bruno Walter Cond. NYPO: DAS LIED VON DER ERDE (Mahler). (Japan) Curtain Call 206, Live Performance, 16 April, 1960, Carnegie Hall. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy!
“Mahler composed this song cycle in the summer of 1908. Originally subtitled a SYMPHONY IN SONGS, it was to have been his Ninth Symphony. But the composer, already very ill (he was to die less than three years later) and possibly remembering that his predecessors Beethoven, Schubert and Bruckner had said their farewells to the world with a Ninth, transferred that fatal number to his next (and last fully completed) work, a purely instrumental one. DAS LIED VON DER ERDE was first performed after the composer's death by his friend and protege Bruno Walter in Munich on November 10, 1911. The work is an intensely personal farewell to life by a doomed man. ‘Earth is about to vanish from his sight’, writes Walter in his biography of his mentor, ‘another air is wafted in, another light shines overhead, and thus it turns out to be an entirely new work of Mahler's: it has a new style of composition, a new kind of invention, of instrumentation and of movement technique’. The last movement, a nearly half-hour-long elegy, concludes with an unresolved chord accompanying the words ‘Ewig, Ewig’ (forever and ever) which, in the words of another eminent conductor-author, Erich Leinsdorf expresses a most desperate longing to come to terms with eternity. To end a work without a resolution, leaving everything to unending time, was an original invention. Walter left us three ‘official’ recordings of this work: two with the Vienna Philharmonic (1936 and 1952) and one with the New York Philharmonic (1960). What justifies the release of the present disc is that it preserves, in the best possible sound, Walter's very last concert performance of this masterpiece, with soloists chosen by him for his farewell rendition of one of the hallmarks of his long and distinguished conducting career.”
- Ned Ludd
"Maureen Forrester, the Canadian contralto, was revered for her opulent voice and musical elegance and especially acclaimed for her performances of Mahler; she sang the broader mezzo-soprano repertory, rightly considered herself a contralto, the lowest and rarest female voice. In her prime she was a classic contralto with a plummy, deep-set sound. Yet she had a full-bodied upper voice and could sing passagework in Handel arias with agility. She sang Mahler and German lieder with impeccable diction.
Ms. Forrester was little known in the United States when she made her New York recital debut at Town Hall in November 1956 with the pianist John Newmark, who became her longtime accompanist. She won rave reviews. 'Miss Forrester has a superb voice of generous compass and volume', Edward Downes wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES. 'Its color ranges from a darkly resonant chest register to a brilliantly focused top with a middle register that she makes velvet soft or reedy according to her expressive intent'. At the time, the conductor Bruno Walter, who had been a close associate of Mahler's, was looking for a contralto to sing in a performance and a recording of Mahler's 'Resurrection' Symphony with the New York Philharmonic. He invited Ms. Forrester, then 27, to sing for him, and hired her. The recording is now considered a classic. Ms. Forrester went on to record Mahler's DAS LIED VON DER ERDE with Walter and soon became an acknowledged exponent of Mahler. She was best known for her recital work and performances with orchestras, and appeared with many leading conductors, including Eugene Ormandy, Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein."
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 17 June, 2010
"Richard Lewis, a tenor who excelled in Handel and who also sang in the first performances of several contemporary operas, [was] one of the first English singers to achieve world fame in concert and opera, [and] made his debuts at both Glyndebourne and Covent Garden in 1947, appearing regularly with both companies until 1979. His debut role at Glyndebourne was the Male Chorus in Britten's RAPE OF LUCRETIA. His other roles there included Tom Rakewell in the first English staging of Stravinsky's RAKE'S PROGRESS, but he was also highly regarded for his performances in works by Monteverdi, Gluck, Mozart and Strauss.
At Covent Garden, his portrayals included Hoffmann, Tamino and Don Jose, but he was particularly prized as a performer of 20th-century music. In 1954, he created the role of Troilus in William Walton's TROILUS AND CRESSIDA, the role in which he made his American debut in 1955 at the San Francisco Opera. Mr. Lewis's other premieres included central roles in Sir Michael Tippett's MIDSUMMER MARRIAGE (1955) and KING PRIAM (1962), both at Covent Garden, where he also sang Aron in the first British performance of Schoenberg's MOSES UND ARON in 1965. He was the tenor soloist in the first performance of Stravinsky's CANTICUM, at the Venice International Festival of Contemporary Music in 1956, and he sang Captain Vere in the American premiere of Britten's BILLY BUDD with the American Opera Society at Carnegie Hall in 1966.
Besides contemporary and standard repertory opera, Mr. Lewis appeared frequently in the United States as a soloist in concert works and oratorios, and he was considered to be particularly expert in Baroque music. He was a member of the New York-based Bach Aria Group in the 1960s. In the Baroque repertory, Handel was his specialty, and his recordings of Handel arias were widely admired. Mr. Lewis' last performance was a concert of Handel arias at the Kennedy Center in 1981."
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 14 Nov., 1990