Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

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Jared
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Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Jared » Sat Nov 20, 2010 5:37 am

a self-explanatory thread....

undoubtedly, there are many, many fine versions of these late Strauss masterpieces available, however at present I only own the Karajan/ Janowitz version... and I'd like another set, for comparison. I had been thinking of the Norman/ Masur/ Leipzig set on Philips, partly because PG gives it 4 stars, partly because its very cheap at present, and partly because it contains 6 other Lieder I'm unfamiliar with...

... however, I might be open to persuasion... :wink:

many thanks :D

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by stefanher » Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:05 am

Only 2 need to be mentioned- Schwarzkopf (either recording) & Della Casa. All else is superfluous. Now I can sit back & await the flak I'm going to get for saying what everybody else knows but was afraid to state...

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by stenka razin » Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:23 am

There are so many that are beautiful, but my favorite is still the timeless Schwarzkopf recordings, especially with Szell. 8)
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by bombasticDarren » Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:25 am

stenka razin wrote:There are so many that are beautiful, but my favorite is still the timeless Schwarzkopf recordings, especially with Szell. 8)
I agree :)

Also love Norman/Masur and Isokoski/Janowski.

Jared, if the price is right get all 3 :!: :lol: :!: :wink:

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by John F » Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:58 am

stefanher wrote:Only 2 need to be mentioned- Schwarzkopf (either recording) & Della Casa. All else is superfluous. Now I can sit back & await the flak I'm going to get for saying what everybody else knows but was afraid to state...
Lisa Della Casa with the Vienna Philharmonic under Karl Böhm, on an old Decca/London mono record, just carries me away.



I also like Schwarzkopf's first recording with Otto Ackermann, the stereo remake with Szell a bit less so. And rescued from oblivion is a live performance by one of my favorite singers, Sena Jurinac, with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Fritz Busch.
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Jared » Sat Nov 20, 2010 7:11 am

some interesting comments...

* Not much love for the Norman/ Masur set, is there? :?
* How would you rate the Janowitz/ Karajan recording in the grand scheme of things?
* So far, no mention of:

Fleming/ Eschenbach (RCA)
Fleming/ Thielemann (Decca)
Te Kanawa/ A Davis (Sony)
Studer/ Sinopoli (DG)
Harper/ Hickox (EMI)

...to name but a few.. :?:

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by val » Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:30 am

Because of its poetic beauty and elegace, my choice is Schwarzkopf with Ackermann. The recording that Schwarzkopf made with Szell is more dramatic, with more contrasts, but, to me, not as touching as the previous version.

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by ravel30 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:31 am

Jared my friend 8) !!!

Amazing timing here my friend. I just listened to Strauss' Four last Songs yesterday. I only have the Fleming/Eischenbech RCA recording and I really really enjoy it. It is the only version that I have listened to so I am not really good for comparison. The sound quality is superb and it made me discover the Houston Symphony orchestra.

If I may add I would say that it is because of this recording that I fell in love with Renee Flemings (both her talent and her supreme beauty). I think that it is fair to say that she is a beautiful woman (my wife will not be upset for me saying this) and she looks amazing in the pictures included in the booklet of that cd.

Three cheers to one of my top two female singer.

Matt.

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Jared » Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:49 am

^^ thanks Val & Matt...

yes, my friend, Fleming is indeed beautiful, but if that was your principle criteria, you should have gone for the Decca set with Thielemann, where she's all over the cover! That said, her first set, with Eschenbach seems to get better reviews...

indeed at present, I'm swaying toward the Della Casa set on Decca Legends (Great clip, John!) and then either the first Fleming set or the Norman set, for comparison... but the voting lines are still open... :D

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Istvan » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:36 am

Kiri with Solti, not least for the 12 lieder accompanied at the piano by the maestro himself, where he is a true partner, not just a background accompanist. The whole disc was obviously made with loving care and Te Kanawa is entirely without side and affectation, unlike....
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by maestrob » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:40 am

bombasticDarren wrote:
stenka razin wrote:There are so many that are beautiful, but my favorite is still the timeless Schwarzkopf recordings, especially with Szell. 8)
I agree :)

Also love Norman/Masur and Isokoski/Janowski.

Jared, if the price is right get all 3 :!: :lol: :!: :wink:
I'm on your page: the Isokoski disc is a truely excellent recording, with superb singing and excellent conducting, and LOTS of extra songs.

If the Masur is cheap at the moment, grab it as well: Jessye Norman sings the most touching Wiegenlied I have ever heard, and her singing line just goes on forever.

A dark horse here would be Lucia Popp with Tennstedt, also first-rate!

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http://www.amazon.com/Very-Best-Lucia-P ... 850&sr=1-1

Do NOT get the Renee Fleming with Thielemann: it's a dud, IMHO. Her recording with Eschenbach is quite good, but it is only Houston. Better was her live appearance w/Philadelphia in Carnegie Hall w/Eschenbach leading: if they ever have the good sense to issue it commercially.

Betty Blackhead (Schwarzkopf) is quite ethereal, but not my favorite (I never liked her technique): HVK & Janowitz is still at the top of my list.

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by maestrob » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:46 am

Istvan wrote:Kiri with Solti, not least for the 12 lieder accompanied at the piano by the maestro himself, where he is a true partner, not just a background accompanist. The whole disc was obviously made with loving care and Te Kanawa is entirely without side and affectation, unlike....
The commercial disc with Te Kanewa is conducted by Andrew Davis and is not near the top of my list, IMHO: sorry to be so disagreeable.....
Last edited by maestrob on Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Heck148 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:46 am

Another vote for DellaCasa/Bohm - but I'd like to hear Fleming in this music...

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by smitty1931 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:10 am

The Schwarrzkopf/Szell. The final song will bring tears to your eyes. I never expect to hear it done better!

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by josé echenique » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:56 am

The safest all around recommendation is Lisa della Casa with Böhm. More radiant and less mannered than Frau Legge, however, my personal favorite version is Anna Tomowa-Sintow with Karajan. What can I say? I just love her honesty, warmth and natural slavic vibrato. Karajan himself often said that she was his ideal Strauss soprano.

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by stenka razin » Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:31 am

Jared wrote:some interesting comments...

* Not much love for the Norman/ Masur set, is there? :?
* How would you rate the Janowitz/ Karajan recording in the grand scheme of things?
* So far, no mention of:

Fleming/ Eschenbach (RCA)
Fleming/ Thielemann (Decca)
Te Kanawa/ A Davis (Sony)
Studer/ Sinopoli (DG)
Harper/ Hickox (EMI)

...to name but a few.. :?:

Janowitz is a dream. I like the second Fleming better than the first and Della Casa is wonderful, too. 8)
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Fergus » Sat Nov 20, 2010 5:08 pm

Another vote for Schwarzkopf/Szell :D

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:44 pm

stefanher wrote:Only 2 need to be mentioned- Schwarzkopf (either recording) & Della Casa. All else is superfluous. Now I can sit back & await the flak I'm going to get for saying what everybody else knows but was afraid to state...
Yep, I totally agree, even Jesse Norman does not come close, and forget Fleming, it's a bland performance like most of her recordings......
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by mikealdren » Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:00 am

Chalkie,
Having read down the thread, I thought I would be in a minority of one by saying avoid Norman and Fleming. The Norman was, I think, the first CD I bought on the basis of rave reviews and I've always been very disappointed by it. Fleming (as ever) swoops and swoons with beautiful sounds but I get no feeling whatsoever about the songs, she could be singing a shopping list. I think bland understates it, vacuous is closer. Despite her avowed live of Strauss, her singing in this music is even less appropriate than her Handel.

Strauss creates an atmosphere in each song that totally matches the words so these songs above all, need an artist who capture this. A large voice and or beautiful voice is simply not enough and leaves such an empty feeling.

I now have many good recordings, Della Casa, Isokoski, Jurinac, Lott, and Popp but, for me, Schwartzkopf (with Szell) stands out as one of those truly great recordings.

Mike

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Jared » Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:40 am

^^ thanks everyone for your recommendations... Della Casa & Schwarzkopf (when I find it at a reasonable price) it is then... your help and enlightened comments have, as always, been truly appreciated... 8)

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Istvan » Sun Nov 21, 2010 7:37 am

"The commercial disc with Te Kanewa is conducted by Andrew Davis and is not near the top of my list, IMHO: sorry to be so disagreeable....."


You're not being disagreeable! Te Kanawa made two recordings of the work under discussion, the second in 1992 with Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic.
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by maestrob » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:38 am

Istvan wrote:"The commercial disc with Te Kanewa is conducted by Andrew Davis and is not near the top of my list, IMHO: sorry to be so disagreeable....."


You're not being disagreeable! Te Kanawa made two recordings of the work under discussion, the second in 1992 with Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic.
Thanks, Istvan....somehow I missed that one! It's on my wishlist as we speak!

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Ted Quanrud » Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:32 pm

Hi Jared --

Sorry to weigh in so late on this one. A starry-eyed teenager, I was much taken by the soprano's physical beauty on the LP cover when the Schwarzkopf/Szell first became available here about 1967-68. I have never tired of Strauss's valedictory masterpiece and have since acquired at least two dozen recordings of the Die Vier Leztze Lieder.

In Janowitz/Karajan, you have one of the very best (it tops many critics' list). Suggest your next version be one of the big voices, keeping in mind that Strauss wrote the songs for Kirsten Flagstad. Few of those who have recorded the songs since have anywhere near the vocal spendor of the great Norwegian, but Norman certainly and more recently Christine Brewer (Telarc) have power that others cannot match. Avoid Jane Eaglen -- her interpretation is bland.

Some personal favorites:

Lucia Popp/Tennstedt -- Direct and heartfelt, like so much the late, lamented Czech soprano recorded. Whie you're at it, check out her recording on U-Tube == she is wonderful, but Georg Solti hits a low for a near brutal orchestra accompaniment.

Lisa della Casa -- one of the very first commercial recordings, this is like Schwarzkopf, minus Madam's characteristic mannerisms.

Charlotte Margiono/deWaart -- What a surprise! Brilliant Classics? Relatively unheralded soloist. Outstanding performance.

Renee Fleming/Eschenbach -- A beautiful rendition with the bonus of an outstanding rendition of "Befreit" to my thinking the finest of Strauss's songs. Fleming's CD with Theilemann is to my ears almost perverse with soloist and conductor stretching for interpretive effects.

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Jared » Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:37 pm

^^ thank you Ted for your very thoughtful post... CMG really is a mine of knowledge.. 8)

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:00 am

mikealdren wrote:Chalkie,
Having read down the thread, I thought I would be in a minority of one by saying avoid Norman and Fleming. The Norman was, I think, the first CD I bought on the basis of rave reviews and I've always been very disappointed by it. Fleming (as ever) swoops and swoons with beautiful sounds but I get no feeling whatsoever about the songs, she could be singing a shopping list. I think bland understates it, vacuous is closer. Despite her avowed live of Strauss, her singing in this music is even less appropriate than her Handel.
I used the word "bland" to describe every solo disc she has ever made, she comes across much better in complete Operas...
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by erato » Mon Nov 22, 2010 7:13 am

I have both Isokowsky and Schwarzkopf, but the one I keep cooming back to, for 30 years, is the della Casa.

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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Donaldopato » Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:20 am

I adore the Schwarzkopf performance but want to plug a wonderful modern performance Christine Brewer/Runnicles Atlanta on Telarc.
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Istvan » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:17 am

"Lucia Popp/Tennstedt -- Direct and heartfelt, like so much the late, lamented Czech soprano recorded. Whie you're at it, check out her recording on U-Tube == she is wonderful, but Georg Solti hits a low for a near brutal orchestra accompaniment."

Funny you should say that because Lucia Popp told Helen Matheopoulos (in "Maestros") that it was one of the most wonderful evenings in her career!
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by johnQpublic » Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:24 pm

I have the Norman.. it's wonderful
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Lance » Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:29 pm

I have so many recordings of rht Four Last Songs that I have lost track. However, when I heard the Jessye Norman/Kurt Masur recording when it was first issued, I heard something special in that performance that I have not heard in other recordings. The Della Casa is also very special, and while I am not a total Schwarzkopf fan, I thought her recording with George Szell was exemplary. It's such an important work that everyone is sure to have their own personal favourites.

In doing just now a quick check ... there's PLENTY I have on discs:

Popp (2), Te Kanawa, Flagstad, Della Casa, Fleming (2), Studer, Tomowa-Sintow, Janowitz, Schwarzkopf (2 or more), Jurinac (2), Caballé, Norman, Leontyne Price, Auger, Thebom, Soderstrom, Nilsson, Christine Brewer ... and on and on. Lately, Christine Brewer is among my favourites in the music of Strauss today.
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Wallingford » Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:20 pm

Certainly, no collection would be complete without the premiere from Flagstad/Furtwangler.......
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by Lance » Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:07 am

Absolutely!
Wallingford wrote:Certainly, no collection would be complete without the premiere from Flagstad/Furtwangler.......
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Re: Strauss: Four Last Songs: Recommendations Please!

Post by josé echenique » Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:07 am

The strangest recording of this work that I own is one with Mirella Freni and the son of Nicolai Ghiaurov conducting. It´s a pirate recording of course, and Freni is past her best form.

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