For the Lieder week-end during the Biennale of Vocal Arts, the Philharmonie de Paris has invited the best singers of our time. Tonight, baritone Christian Gerhaher, with pianist Gerold Huber au piano, will offer a judicious choice of Mahler lieder. They are beginning with “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen”, come then to a choice of “Des Knaben Wunderhorn”, and end the recital with “Kindertotenlieder”. The songs of “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen” are about a rejected lover and his wanderings. The first text is from “Des Knaben Wunderhorn”, the other three are written by Mahler. With his clear and resonant voice, which has acquired over the last years a more expressive warmth and depths, Christian Gerhaher catches every shade, every contrast, of which these lieder are especially rich. Mahler oftentimes puts side by side the serene beauty of nature, bird songs, flowers and colours, and the emotions of the disillusioned young man – and Gerhaher follows him, supple and expressive. “Des Knaben Wunderhorn” is a collection of folkloristic texts from the Middle Ages to the early nineteenth century, an exquisite mixture of naivety and subtlety. The are telling stories that range from the smiling “Rheinlegendchen” or the ironic “Um schlimme Kinder artig zu machen” to the deepest sadness, especially when they are about soldiers’ fates. Gerhaher keeps the perfect balance here between beauty of tone and expressiveness; he expresses discreetly the characters’ feelings, making us laugh, smile, sigh…The last lied in this part of the recital, “Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen”, introduces the subject of the last part – death. “Kindertotenlieder” are a collection of poems by Friedrich Rückert, in which he expresses the pain of having lost two of his own children. Mahler’s composition is one of the most poignant works in the repertoire. Again, Gerhaher’s interpretation is just discreet enough to allow the music and texts to speak for themselves, with being overly scholarly. His lovely voice does the rest. In the last lied, “Bei diesem Wetter, bei diesem Braus”, the storm of the grieving father’s feeling is giving way to a more peaceful ambiance of acceptation. Thunderous applause for the artists and an encore: “Urlicht” will be the perfect ending for this memorable evening.