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Yes, this recording was widely praised and considered almost sacrosanct
The media, but why they are accusing them of exaggerating
I do not see why
My reactions to Janowitz/Karajan tend to vary each time I hear it. The orchestral playing is gorgeous and Janowitz's voice has a sort of disembodied beauty which gloriously rides over the orchestral texture. Like many I can just sit back and wallow in the beauty. But that disembodied beauty I talk about is also one of the recording's problems for me. These are not mere vocalises but Lieder, and I feel that the deeper meaning of the songs gets lost. For that I inevitably turn to Schwarzkopf under Szell, another justly famous interpretation, which has stood the test of time. Here we get beauty and truth.
 
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I listened to both the Schwarzkopf versions, the Della Casa, Norman, Fleming, Janowitz, and my favourite is Schwarzkopf's first version with Ackermann. The music flows better to me and her singing has more variety. Next is probably Janowitz's
 

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For a dark horse, listen to Aga Mikolaj, who apparently studied with Schwarzkopf. Beautiful voice that soars in the big moments.

After learning the very sad news of her death from COVID-19 at 50(!) last November, I've come back to this recording a few times. While the orchestra sounds a little pedestrian here and there (at the start of Im Abendrot for instance, which could have been phrased a tad more poetically), I still find a lot to enjoy. Mikolaj is in gorgeous voice and sensitive to the text. I played this cd for a friend of mine, who remarked: "She obviously listened to Schwarzkopf very carefully," not knowing that Mikolaj studied with her between 2001 and 2006. Myself, I actually hear the influence of her teacher more in the rendition of Dove Sono that's also on this disc.
 

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After learning the very sad news of her death from COVID-19 at 50(!) last November, I've come back to this recording a few times. While the orchestra sounds a little pedestrian here and there (at the start of Im Abendrot for instance, which could have been phrased a tad more poetically), I still find a lot to enjoy. Mikolaj is in gorgeous voice and sensitive to the text. I played this cd for a friend of mine, who remarked: "She obviously listened to Schwarzkopf very carefully," not knowing that Mikolaj studied with her between 2001 and 2006. Myself, I actually hear the influence of her teacher more in the rendition of Dove Sono that's also on this disc.
I did mention here in:
Roll of Honour
 
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Of the more recent recordings of Vier letzte Lieder, I have to say that Sandrine Piau is impressive in every way:



In fact, the whole program on this recording is top-notch (Berg and Zemlinsky make great disc mates with Strauss). The conductor Jean-François Verdier and the Orchestre Victor Hugo provide gorgeous accompaniment.
 

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Of the more recent recordings of Vier letzte Lieder, I have to say that Sandrine Piau is impressive in every way:



In fact, the whole program on this recording is top-notch (Berg and Zemlinsky make great disc mates with Strauss). The conductor Jean-François Verdier and the Orchestre Victor Hugo provide gorgeous accompaniment.
Thank you, I am going to push the buy button like in a minute, was wandering for weeks .
 

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I did like Piau's performance a lot, only I was very disappointed with the recorded sound. It very much favours the voice, and there's a muffled quality to the orchestra, like it's playing in a different hall next door.
 

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I enjoy a variety of approaches to this most piercingly poignant work, but it's usually Schwarzkopf/Szell that leaves me with the most complete experience—ravishing beauty of tone and achingly poetic inflection of the text, with a feather-light accompaniment that highlights every detail. I also love Norman/Masur's grand style, Popp/Tennstedt's gleaming beauty, Fleming/Eschenbach's golden richness, and whatever you can hear that comes through the wretched sound of the Flagstad/Furtwängler. I don't like the famous Janowitz/Karajan; the accompaniment is ideal and Janowitz has a unique and beautiful tone, but all I hear is some pretty singing, not an interpretation.
 

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I enjoy a variety of approaches to this most piercingly poignant work, but it's usually Schwarzkopf/Szell that leaves me with the most complete experience-ravishing beauty of tone and achingly poetic inflection of the text, with a feather-light accompaniment that highlights every detail. I also love Norman/Masur's grand style, Popp/Tennstedt's gleaming beauty, Fleming/Eschenbach's golden richness, and whatever you can hear that comes through the wretched sound of the Flagstad/Furtwängler. I don't like the famous Janowitz/Karajan; the accompaniment is ideal and Janowitz has a unique and beautiful tone, but all I hear is some pretty singing, not an interpretation.
They are all famous not just Karajan (more Karajan bashing? zzzzzz)

One doesn't interpret these songs, they are to be sung. And Janowitz sings like a silver-throated angel. If all you hear is 'pretty singing' then this sort of music is not really for you.
 
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They are all famous not just Karajan (more Karajan bashing? zzzzzz)

One doesn't interpret these songs, they are to be sung. And Janowitz sings like a silver-throated angel. If all you hear is 'pretty singing' then this sort of music is not really for you.
I do have that with Popp, she is the only one who could get me to tears .
 
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I did like Piau's performance a lot, only I was very disappointed with the recorded sound. It very much favours the voice, and there's a muffled quality to the orchestra, like it's playing in a different hall next door.
I only wonder if she has enough voice for them. I like Piau in Handel, but I'm told the voice is quite small.

Elsa Dreisig has recorded them with piano accompaniment on her album Morgen and I believe an orchestral version is in the pipeline. It's definitely one I'd be interested to hear.
 

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I enjoy a variety of approaches to this most piercingly poignant work, but it's usually Schwarzkopf/Szell that leaves me with the most complete experience-ravishing beauty of tone and achingly poetic inflection of the text, with a feather-light accompaniment that highlights every detail. I also love Norman/Masur's grand style, Popp/Tennstedt's gleaming beauty, Fleming/Eschenbach's golden richness, and whatever you can hear that comes through the wretched sound of the Flagstad/Furtwängler. I don't like the famous Janowitz/Karajan; the accompaniment is ideal and Janowitz has a unique and beautiful tone, but all I hear is some pretty singing, not an interpretation.
I tend to agree with you, except for preferring Fleming's second recording to her first. Schwarzkopf/Szell would be my top choice, with Norman/Masur and Popp/Tennstedt not far behind.

I used to think more highly of the Janowitz/Karajan, but now I find the almost disembodied purity of the singing a bit empty. It's all very beautiful, but does it mean anything? I don't agree with Henry that the songs should just be sung, and not interpreted. After all, these are not just vocalises and Strauss must have chosen the texts for a reason. Schwarzkopf, Norman, Popp and Fleming all in their various ways make us think about the meaning of the texts. Personally, I don't get that same degree of emotional commitment from Janowitz.
 

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I used to think more highly of the Janowitz/Karajan, but now I find the almost disembodied purity of the singing a bit empty. It's all very beautiful, but does it mean anything? I don't agree with Henry that the songs should just be sung, and not interpreted. After all, these are not just vocalises and Strauss must have chosen the texts for a reason. Schwarzkopf, Norman, Popp and Fleming all in their various ways make us think about the meaning of the texts. Personally, I don't get that same degree of emotional commitment from Janowitz.
I never said just sung. I said they are to be sung. Singing must have feeling, emotion and relevance to the words. All of which Janowitz's performance has. In my opinion, to talk of interpreting and 'disembodied purity' is highfalutin. I also think that such views are a barrier to classical music and contributes its decline.
 

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They are all famous not just Karajan (more Karajan bashing? zzzzzz)

One doesn't interpret these songs, they are to be sung. And Janowitz sings like a silver-throated angel. If all you hear is 'pretty singing' then this sort of music is not really for you.
I have to agree with you about this recording, it is sublime, her soaring high notes are overwhelming.

But it is not my favorite; that would be Schwarzkopf (Szell). Jessye Norman is also very good. I also have the Renée Fleming recording with Christian Thielemann/Munich and like it a lot.
 

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I have to agree with you about this recording, it is sublime, her soaring high notes are overwhelming.

But it is not my favorite; that would be Schwarzkopf (Szell). Jessye Norman is also very good. I also have the Renée Fleming recording with Christian Thielemann/Munich and like it a lot.
Indeed, overwhelming!

Perhaps I must revisit Schwarzkopf and Norman - they seem highly rated by TC members.

I haven't heard the Fleming/Thielemann. It's gone on my to listen to list!
 
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Indeed, overwhelming!

Perhaps I must revisit Schwarzkopf and Norman - they seem highly rated by TC members.

I haven't heard the Fleming/Thielemann. It's gone on my to listen to list!
View attachment 163372

Dutch Masters: Bernard Haitink (Volume 48) (Strauss: Don Quixote, Op. 35 Fantasische Variationen (1977); Vier Letzte Lieder (1968))
This is Janowitz best performance .
alas very expensive
 
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