Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Strauss: Vier letzte Lieder

Richard Strauss (Composers)
George Szell (Conductor)
  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano)
London Symphony Orchestra (Orchestra)

Audio CD (1991)
Number of Discs: 1
Label: EMI 7 47276 2

Strauss completed his late, lovely masterpiece, the Four Last Songs between May and September 1948. A fifth song was started but not finished. Sadly, barely a year later, the composer died without ever hearing them in performance. Throughout his life Strauss had shown a distinct penchant for the soprano voice - one only has to recollect the three magnificent but demanding soprano roles in Der Rosenkavalier for instance. It is therefore fitting that this sublime last work with its fine vocal writing and opulent orchestrations (with glorious string parts), should be given to the soprano.

 The songs, sad but serene, suggest journeyings: through the day, through the seasons and through life. There are so many joys in this recording. I would just single out a few before I pass onto the 12 songs. Clearly Schwarzkopf's lovely silken tone; her effortless, seamless, floating, soaring singing that follows the winged spirit in "Beim Schlafengehen" (Going To Sleep) [and of course throughout all the four songs] is wondrous to hear. Then there is the lovely horn solo over softly caressing strings that closes "September" on an exquisite note of departing sadness for the departure of Summer; the melting beauty of the violin solo that distinguishes "Beim Schlafengehen"; and just everything in the haunting "Im Abendrot" (At Gloaming) - if music can be called heavenly then this is it! The closing orchestral pages are truly magical.

FLAC - 245 MB

1 comment:

  1. The scans links are missing
    Please fix it, thank you


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