Intense Mahler and Schubert from Thomas E. Bauer in Auckland

Thomas E. Bauer

By Simon Holden

The orchestra applied similarly translucent textures to the Mahler song-cycle Lieder eines fahren Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer). Here they were joined by Bauer's compact but rich baritone. These were searing interpretations with an intense and emotionally immediate connection to the grief-filled texts. Even in the second song, ostensibly the happiest of the four, it was clear that happiness was a remembrance through the lens of current suffering. The birds chirped merrily and the sun shone brightly through a conspicuously lighter tone-colour than elsewhere yet it was not surprising when the conclusion was that his love could never bloom again. The third song, Ich hab' ein glühend Messer was the most anguished and here Bauer was wide-ranging in his despair, the sheer agony biting on his words "O weh! Das schneid't so tief". The crushing misery of his death-wish in the final stanzas of the last song was almost unbearable. Bauer's vocal effects were often extreme, from a disembodied pianissimo (verging on falsetto) to sudden lurches in volume in the third song. But all these effects were in perfect service of the music and text and never felt excessive. He also handled the extreme lows of the initial song without the voice turning gravelly.

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