Author Topic: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder  (Read 14841 times)

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Lilas Pastia

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2007, 04:40:30 PM »
I'm not saying I prefer one to another, merely that the vocal wear cannot be ignored, let alone disguised as 'increased artistry'. There are roles in which Callas rediviva is a down and out letdown compared to her younger self, but in the case of Lucia and Norma it could be swinging either way.

As for E.S. I tend to prefer her earlier less self-conscious artistry to the later artsy but fallible vocalism (runs for cover ;))

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2007, 01:38:32 AM »


If Schwarzkopf expressed a preference for her later recording (and she has every right to let the world know), it's probably because in her opinion the balance of advantages weighed in that direction. Mind you, if she had expressed a preference for the earlier one, many would have pointed out that a remake was an error. This is not the kind of thing an hypercritical and very proud person like her would have admitted graciously.




Belatedly replying to one of your earlier points.

Actually, if you read the book I mentioned earlier Listening with Schwarzkopf, you will find that this is not at all the case. She is as critical of some of her later recordings as she is of her earlier ones. The book was written after Walter Legge had died, and often she disagrees with some of the choices he made as to what she recorded, and when. Often, indeed, she will prefer an earlier version of a song or selection of songs. She comes over as totally pragmatic and realistic, if, admittedly, a tad hypercritical. Does she come across as proud? Well occasionally, but only when she feels the pride is warranted, which is not that often. The hypercritical side will usually find fault somewhere. She is also generous in her praise of certain colleagues - Ludwig and Callas especially.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2007, 08:25:58 PM »
I didn't read the book :-[, but your comments make me want I could get it here. Schwarzkopf is certainly one of the most important singers of the past century. Not only for her singing per se, but for her attitude toward her art. In that regard she was uncompromising, unimpeachable and inspirational.

I can certainly see her point - and admire her unselfishness - when praising Ludwig ans Callas, two singers who put Art before Voice.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #23 on: November 08, 2007, 02:25:45 AM »

I can certainly see her point - and admire her unselfishness - when praising Ludwig ans Callas, two singers who put Art before Voice.

I should also have mentioned Irmgard Seefried, who also comes in for a great deal of praise, Schwarzkopf often comparing herself unfavourably to her colleague.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Que

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #24 on: November 08, 2007, 10:18:32 AM »
I should also have mentioned Irmgard Seefried, who also comes in for a great deal of praise, Schwarzkopf often comparing herself unfavourably to her colleague.

And I think she was actually right...
Which doesn't mean I don't have any appreciation for Schwarzkopf BTW.

Q

Offline matti

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #25 on: November 08, 2007, 02:23:04 PM »
Speaking of Schwarzkopf, I'm sure many of you are familiar with her (clips of) masterclasses presented on Youtube. I think they are pretty special. In case someone has not found them yet, here is one them, and after clicking this one you'll find the rest.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7ar4biNNZ4

Offline Scion7

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #26 on: March 18, 2012, 02:08:07 PM »


Nice LP cover, anyway.  :)

Won't replace Schwarzkopf/Szell, of course.
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

Offline knight66

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #27 on: March 24, 2012, 10:39:15 PM »
This is a new one on me. I always thought her voice was aimed at the heaviest Verdi roles and am surprised she recorded this Strauss. I imagine it was made some number of years ago.

Mike
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #28 on: March 25, 2012, 02:54:46 AM »
This is a new one on me. I always thought her voice was aimed at the heaviest Verdi roles and am surprised she recorded this Strauss. I imagine it was made some number of years ago.

Mike

You can hear then on youtube, and they are not bad actually. I remember she also did a disc of Wagner arias, coupled with the Wesendonck Lieder, which was also surprisingly successful. I say surprisingly, because every time I heard her live she never really lived up to her recordings. A Covent Garden Norma (with a superlative Agnes Baltsa as Adalgisa) was little short of disastrous, and I don't think she ever appeared there again. The best thing I ever heard her do was a concert performance of Turandot at the Barbican, when the original, longer, Alfano ending was performed for the first time.



\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline mjwal

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #29 on: April 30, 2012, 08:07:36 AM »
This is a reaction to those posts that discuss the various Schwarzkopf recordings and the Norman. Firstly, the latter is sort of beautiful vocally, if without much individual response to the words, but the orchestra plays like toffee. Secondly, where Masur makes a treacly trudge of the intro to "Im Abendrot", Szell whizzes over it, neglecting the emotional power of the glorious counter-melody. And here Sch. is definitely "performing" the part rather than singing it properly (rather the weird thing she makes of Schumann's Liederkreis Op.39 than this bodge). So of Schwarzkopf's various versions I prefer her live recording with Karajan/Philharmonia (1956). Of all the recordings I have heard in whole or in part in recent years, the one that puts the cream in my coffee, despite the imperfect orchestral rendition, is Teresa Stich-Randall with Ansermet/Suisse-Romande (1961), which has a quality of untrammelled soaring ecstasy. A great pity that Elisabeth Grümmer's version came a bit too late (recorded with a distinctly under-par radio orchestra in 1970).
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 08:12:55 AM by mjwal »
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Offline KevinP

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #30 on: April 25, 2022, 08:40:38 PM »
Ten-year bump.

This is a work I've of course been aware of and heard a few times, but it's only now that I'm digging into it.

A few years ago, I went through a spurt of buying box sets by various singers, so I've amassed a few different versions already and just ordered two more.

Have:
Schwarzkopf (Ackerman and Szell)
Te Kanawa
Lucia Popp
Leontyne Price
Janowitz

Ordered:
Jessye Norman
Isokoski

Price was never mentioned in this thread, I don't think, but I think it holds its own with the best of them. Te Kanawa and Popp don't have any real problems but I don't think they'll be ones I frequently reach for. (Not bad recommendations to start with though, as you could become familiar with the work and then work up to the top shelf.)

Just listened to Martina Arroyo's on YouTube. It may not give the best ones a run for the money, but it's still pretty darn good.

Very early days for me, and some of the ones I have have only been listened to once, so some changes-of-mind are not unlikely.


Online Jo498

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #31 on: April 25, 2022, 10:36:12 PM »
Get Della Casa/Böhm (?). It's mono, but good sounding mono from the early 1950s and used to be available on a single disc (Decca historic/legends or some such series) with other Strauss. She is as accomplished as Schwarzkopf but more beautiful voice and more "natural" singing.
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I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline Que

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #32 on: April 25, 2022, 10:38:31 PM »
Get Della Casa/Böhm (?). It's mono, but good sounding mono from the early 1950s and used to be available on a single disc (Decca historic/legends or some such series) with other Strauss. She is as accomplished as Schwarzkopf but more beautiful voice and more "natural" singing.

Seconded.  :)

Offline LKB

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #33 on: April 26, 2022, 12:33:09 AM »
I'll seek that one out, thanks.  8)
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2022, 12:33:43 AM »
Get Della Casa/Böhm (?). It's mono, but good sounding mono from the early 1950s and used to be available on a single disc (Decca historic/legends or some such series) with other Strauss. She is as accomplished as Schwarzkopf but more beautiful voice and more "natural" singing.

My problem wuth this version is Böhm's fast speeds. Della Casa's voice is beautiful of course and she was an ideal Strauss singer, but the tempi are just too fast. Norman's version with Masur is perhaps at the opposite extreme but, all in all, I prefer it.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #35 on: April 27, 2022, 03:48:18 AM »
I’ve recently purchased the Szell Warner box in part because it contains the 4 Last Songs (Schwarzkopf of course). While I have heard that version a good number of times over the radio, I’ve never listened to it in the comfort of my listening room. I note that it is considerably slower than her previous take under Ackermann, a version I like a lot. Will report.  :)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2022, 08:43:23 AM »
Ten-year bump.

This is a work I've of course been aware of and heard a few times, but it's only now that I'm digging into it.

A few years ago, I went through a spurt of buying box sets by various singers, so I've amassed a few different versions already and just ordered two more.

Have:
Schwarzkopf (Ackerman and Szell)
Te Kanawa
Lucia Popp
Leontyne Price
Janowitz

Ordered:
Jessye Norman
Isokoski

Price was never mentioned in this thread, I don't think, but I think it holds its own with the best of them. Te Kanawa and Popp don't have any real problems but I don't think they'll be ones I frequently reach for. (Not bad recommendations to start with though, as you could become familiar with the work and then work up to the top shelf.)

Just listened to Martina Arroyo's on YouTube. It may not give the best ones a run for the money, but it's still pretty darn good.

Very early days for me, and some of the ones I have have only been listened to once, so some changes-of-mind are not unlikely.

Which Lucia Popp performance are you referring to? She's done two: one with Tennstedt on EMI and the other with Tilson Thomas on Sony (in which she's not in her best voice here, but it is a touching performance given she was terminally ill and passed away not too long after this recorded performance). I'm probably in the minority with my opinion of Norman/Masur. This performance is just so languid and lethargic. Masur, who is quite a fine conductor in his own right, and Norman, who is one of my favorite sopranos of all-time, lack the kind of forward momentum I believe this piece requires in order to be interesting and, more importantly, successful. My desert island Vier letzte Lieder is Schwarzkopf/Szell. For me, the stars were aligned in this performance. Everything is well-paced and, while some here may object to Schwarzkopf's phrasing and "mannered" way in singing, I believe she's genuine in every word she sings and sings with all of her heart. As for a more recent performance that impressed me was from Sandrine Piau on Alpha:

"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

My "Top 5" Favorite Composers: Debussy, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius and Bartók


Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2022, 08:48:37 AM »
Which Lucia Popp performance are you referring to? She's done two: one with Tennstedt on EMI and the other with Tilson Thomas on Sony (in which she's not in her best voice here, but it is a touching performance given she was terminally ill and passed away not too long after this recorded performance). I'm probably in the minority with my opinion of Norman/Masur. This performance is just so languid and lethargic. Masur, who is quite a fine conductor in his own right, and Norman, who is one of my favorite sopranos of all-time, lack the kind of forward momentum I believe this piece requires in order to be interesting and, more importantly, successful. My desert island Vier letzte Lieder is Schwarzkopf/Szell. For me, the stars were aligned in this performance. Everything is well-paced and, while some here may object to Schwarzkopf's phrasing and "mannered" way in singing, I believe she's genuine in every word she sings and sings with all of her heart. As for a more recent performance that impressed me was from Sandrine Piau on Alpha:



I'm curious about this performance. I like Piau in Handel, but I would have thought the voice wasn't big enough for these songs.

A version I'm looking forward to is that of Elsa Dreisig, who has already recorded them with piano, thouh in her recital called Morgen the songs are split up and dotted throughout the programme. It works very well for the programme she has put together.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #38 on: April 27, 2022, 08:53:25 AM »
I'm curious about this performance. I like Piau in Handel, but I would have thought the voice wasn't big enough for these songs.

A version I'm looking forward to is that of Elsa Dreisig, who has already recorded them with piano, thouh in her recital called Morgen the songs are split up and dotted throughout the programme. It works very well for the programme she has put together.



You and I are of different minds when it comes to many vocal performances, so I'd imagine the Piau isn't up your alley. The reason I say this is because of your past opinion on Véronique Gens' performance of Berlioz's Les nuits d'été --- a performance which I absolutely loved the minute I heard it.
"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

My "Top 5" Favorite Composers: Debussy, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius and Bartók


Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Strauss' Four Last Songs / Vier Letzte Lieder
« Reply #39 on: April 27, 2022, 09:26:13 AM »
You and I are of different minds when it comes to many vocal performances, so I'd imagine the Piau isn't up your alley. The reason I say this is because of your past opinion on Véronique Gens' performance of Berlioz's Les nuits d'été --- a performance which I absolutely loved the minute I heard it.

But you do like the Schwarzkopf/Szell, which would also be my desert island choice.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas