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Thread: Four Last Songs, Richard Strauss

  1. #121
    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christabel View Post
    I used to like Jessye Norman's versions and on the anniversary of her death I've come to terms with the fact that I don't like her versions. Her voice is too huge and it overwhelms the music. Absolutely over the top. It has taken me a while to give shape to this antipathy but I'm sure there are others who disagree, which is their right.
    Funny how we are all different. We're exact opposites. I find Norman one of the few to match the music's power and not underwhelm and understate the music.

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  3. #122
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbebleu View Post
    Tauber and Lehmann. What’s not to like.
    Perhaps Tauber. Perhaps Lehmann. Perhaps both...

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  5. #123
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    Last songs work more than one way. When I listen to Te Kanawa I think that is the end of the world, no need for more.
    Then I listen to Janowitz and it's not a comparable performance, the virtues are entirely different, but equal in degree and so, the world ends again.
    I don't think I quite get there with Schwarzkopf anymore, or Norman, as wonderful as they are. Again, different virtues, but standing at the edge looking at the end of the world, not yet the actual end of the world.
    Feeling a little apocalyptic this morning apparently.

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  7. #124
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mparta View Post
    Last songs work more than one way. When I listen to Te Kanawa I think that is the end of the world, no need for more.
    Then I listen to Janowitz and it's not a comparable performance, the virtues are entirely different, but equal in degree and so, the world ends again.
    I don't think I quite get there with Schwarzkopf anymore, or Norman, as wonderful as they are. Again, different virtues, but standing at the edge looking at the end of the world, not yet the actual end of the world.
    Feeling a little apocalyptic this morning apparently.
    The opposite is true for me. Te Kanawa's versions I find beautiful but blank and Janowitz provides a kind of disembodied, pure beauty, which is fine on its own terms. However both Norman, and Schwarzkopf, especially with Szell, delve deeper into the meaning of the songs and I find Schwarzkopf/Szell particularly cathartic.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  9. #125
    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    I agree with you about Te Kanawa. Great voice, little emotional connection regardless of what she sings.

    And I very much agree about Schwarzkopf/Szell.
    Last edited by Barbebleu; Nov-18-2020 at 15:19.
    "...it is said that first your heart sings, then you play. I think if it is not like that, then it is only just combination of notes, isn't it? " - Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Master of the Sitar.

    ‘When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!‘

    ‘It will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end!’

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  11. #126
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Discussion in the Opera Forum about the relative merits of Schwarzkopf/Szell and Janowitz/Karajan in Beim Schlafengehen has made me revisit some complete versions I might have neglected.

    Aside from that one song, first off I listened to both the Scharzkopf/Szell and Janowitz/Karajan complete recordings again and I find my views unchanged; renewed appreciation of Schwarzkopf's total understanding of the poetry, which wins out over Janowitz's less involved disembodied purity. To be honest, I know the Schwarzkopf/Szell version so well I find it very hard to put it out of my mind when listening to the songs.

    However I then tried Studer/Sinopoli which has come in for a great deal of praise in some quarters. It certainly has its merits, but the problem I have with it is probably personal in that I often hear Studer as slightly flat. This put her performance out of the running, for me anyway.

    For something completely different I tried Barbara Bonney's version with piano accompaniment. Bonney is a singer I usually like, but she doesn't really have the right voice character for the songs. Bonney's lovely voice always makes me think of spring rather than autumn. Oddly enough the young Elsa Dreisig, who has also recorded the piano accompanied version on her recent Morgen is much better at expressing calm acceptance and resignation. I hope that in time she will give us the orchestral version too.

    I didn't like Lise Davidsen's version one bit. The voice becomes too vibrant under pressure and I abhor her habit of starting a note white with no vibrato and then adding vibrato as she swells the sound. Her legato isn't great either. I know people are raving about her at the moment, but I'm not sure these songs were the best showcase for her.

    It was a relief to turn back to Norman/Masur, which has now become my other favourite recording. This time round I was less bothered by the slow speeds. I think if I were to name a top five now, it would probably be.

    1. Schwarzkopf/Szell
    2. Norman/Masur
    3. Popp/Tennstedt
    4. Fleming/Thielemann
    5. Janowitz/Karajan
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Mar-13-2021 at 12:34.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  13. #127
    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Yeah, you could stick me on a desert island with these and I would be a happy bunny.
    "...it is said that first your heart sings, then you play. I think if it is not like that, then it is only just combination of notes, isn't it? " - Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Master of the Sitar.

    ‘When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!‘

    ‘It will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end!’

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