Mahler: Kindertotenlieder; Wagner: Wesendonck-lieder; Wolf: 3 Morike-lieder Composers: Richard Wagner, Hugo Wolf, Gustav Mahler Orchestra/Ensemble: Orchestre de Paris Conductor: Daniel Barenboim Performer: Waltraud Meier Wagner's Wesendonck-Lieder and the Mahler Kindertotenlieder are coupled surprisingly infrequently and make an impressive collection especially with the addition of three of Wolf's Mrike-Lieder. Mahler composed his orchestral song cycle Kindertotenlieder (Songs for dead children) in 1901/04 to texts by Friedrich Rckert. Following the deaths of two of his children Rckert wrote over four-hundred poems collectively titled Kindertotenlieder. Alma Mahler strongly expressed her discomfort with the subject matter as if composing the Kindertotenlieder would somehow tempt fate. Subsequently Mahler and Alma became haunted by the death of their own child Maria in 1907. Given the mournful nature of the inspiration it is not surprising that an achingly poignant mood cloaks these songs. Wagner's Wesendonck-Lieder is a setting of poems by Mathilde Wesendonck, the wife of Otto Wesendonck, the affluent merchant who was one of Wagner's wealthy patrons. Wagner described two of the songs I'm Treibhaus and Trame as 'studies' for his three act music-drama Tristan und Isolde. The deeply passionate music of the Wesendonck-Lieder is undoubtedly a reflection of Wagner's intense feelings for Mathilde. Completed in 1857/58 Wagner originally scored the cycle for voice and piano with the orchestrations undertaken by conductor Felix Mottl. Hugo Wolf had been grief-stricken at the death of his father in 1887 and had gone to an isolated village outside Vienna engrossing himself in the verses of Swabian poet Eduard Mrike. The fruit of this distressing period was the writing of his cycle of 53 songs in 1888 known as Mrike-Lieder. Demonstrating impressive facility Wolf went on to orchestrate a number of them. The three here are in Wolf's own orchestral arrangements. Probably the finest selection of the orchestrated versions is the 2006 release from soprano Juliane Banse and bass-baritone Dietrich Henschel with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under Kent Nagano.