The four songs on side A of this record are a collection that is usually presented as such, but really isn’t. These are separate songs written in 1901 on texts of the poet Friedrich Rückert. They are usually referred to as Rückert-Lieder. Rückert already died in 1866, but his poetry had a short period of popularity at the end of that century. Mahler wrote more works based on them, like the Kindertotenlieder.
Just two years before, Mahler almost met his maker when he got a near-fatal haemorrhage. The experience might have had some influence on these works, as most are about loneliness and suffering in some form. There is however a fifth song published with them, never performed during Mahler’s lifetime. In this song Mahler declares his love for his wife Alma, in a time when things in their marriage didn’t go very well. It was meant as a reassurance of his everlasting love. It is not included on this record though.
I have written about recordings of Fischer-Dieskau in the past, but this is a later recording. In many ways the quality is better than the others. Some of the other recordings I’ve written about are in mono, others are just bad. This one stands out in quality.