These performances of Mahler's orchestral song-cycles are a very consistently satisfying pack. Beautifully polished playing by the Cincinnati Orchestra under the thoughtful baton of Jesus Lopez-Cobos and noble, intelligent but at the same time warmly sympathetic singing by Andreas Schmidt throughout. The orchestra and singer are recorded fairly directly with not much reverberation, with clear detail everywhere within a warmly glowing and rounded sound - your standard demonstration quality disc, in that respect.
The songs are here taken at nicely judged, naturally flowing speeds, but they may seem(!) much slower sometimes because of the portamenti, mainly in the strings - providing a beautifully appropriate atmosphere of melancholy. The performances on this CD feel more sympathetically appealing than many others, which IMHO is a good thing, at least at times when I just want to listen to these songs for beauty's sake, although other people may find that more (raw) emotion could (and should) be wrested out of these songs. These performances may also lack a certain tension and build-ups towards climaxes, but that doesn't bother me much when the end result is so beautiful. There ARE many other performances of these songs, each of which fits a certain mood or taste, and I listen to those also, of course.
Nonetheles, I believe these are artful, generally relaxed and 'safe'(?) performances which have their very own legitimate things to say about these songs. Warmly recommended.