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Matthias Goerne is very much at home in these selections from Mahler’s song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Boy’s Magic Horn), adapted near the turn of the twentieth century from German folk poems collected a hundred years earlier and beloved by Goethe and Heinrich Heine. The poems vary widely in their subject matter, covering romance and tragedy, cheeky satires of musical taste and harrowing tales of war—and Mahler was proud of the melodies to which he set them, even reusing several motifs in his symphonies.
The talented German baritone, a onetime student of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, switches between vocal registers, vivid characterizations, and emotional states with remarkable ease, bringing “real pathos” to the work (Gramophone). Goerne is joined by the always superb Lucerne Festival Orchestra under the formidable Andris Nelsons, current music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.