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Who sang it best?

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
All three versions are really wonderful. Janowitz has a shimmering beauty to her sound but to me it has less umpf the higher she goes. Someone suggested Schwarzkopf, who's Ariadne I had never heard before and it was gloriously beautiful and sensitively sung, but for me the opulent grandness of Jessye Norman's voice won the day. I had not heard it in years and had forgotten the spendor of her performance.
 

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I expect to be alone on this, but from three excellent versions, Schwarzkopf remains my favourite.
I like Jessye's version, and her voice is probably the most apt for the piece, but somehow it just doesn't take off in the closing section as I want it too. It's also interesting to me that the conductors in both the Norman and Janowitz versions (I'm assuming Masur and Kempe) express mounting ecstasy by increasing the tempo, where Karajan, for Schwarzkopf, seems to expand, giving her voice room to soar out. Schwarzkopf is more communicative with the text than either of the others too.

I've never found Janowitz's silvery, almost disembodied sound quite to my taste (I know I'm in a minority here) so her version ends up in third place for me. Her lower register is weaker than either Norman or Schwarzkopf too and that's quite important in this piece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I expect to be alone on this, but from three excellent versions, Schwarzkopf remains my favourite.
I like Jessye's version, and her voice is probably the most apt for the piece, but somehow it just doesn't take off in the closing session as I want it too. It's also interesting to me that the conductors in both the Norman and Janowitz versions (I'm assuming Masur and Kempe) express mounting ecstasy by increasing the tempo, where Karajan, for Schwarzkopf, seems to expand, giving her voice room to soar out. Schwarzkopf is more communicative with the text than either of the others too.

I've never found Janowitz's silvery, almost disembodied sound quite to my taste (I know I'm in a minority here) so her version ends up in third place for me. Her lower register is weaker than either Norman or Schwarzkopf too and that's quite important in this piece.
I think you were the one who suggested Schwarzkopf to me and it is really really beautiful. I love to read the things you hear in music that I miss.
 

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Tsaraslondon needn't be lonely. Schwarzkopf moulds and shades this music as no one else I've heard, fusing verbal acuity and an unbroken legato vocal emission with unflagging intensity of concentration. That level of mastery just slightly eludes the very good Jessye Norman, whose pianissimo effects seem overdone and make me wonder whether they'd even be audible in the opera house. Janowitz, with her bright, straightened, cut-glass timbre, always sang prettily, but often took on parts, like this one, that call for a sound more ample and more capable of expressing something. I shut her off after three minutes, confident that nothing was going to happen that I couldn't afford to miss.
 

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Liszt, Bruckner, Chopin, Wallace, Bortkiewicz.
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Es gibt ein Reich
Wo alles rein ist
Es hat auch einen Namen
Totenreich
Hier ist nichts rein
Hier kam alles zu allem

Bald aber naht ein Bote
Hermes heißen sie ihn
Mit seinem Stab
Regiert er die Seelen
Wie leichte Vögel
Wie welke Blätter
Treibt er sie hin...

I want CLEARLY listen the end of the spellings. I feel better the rhythm.

All the performances are TOP! I went to Janowitz for her better text reading and understanding.
 

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I used to own the Kempe version, thanks to the Columbia Record Club ages ago. I had not heard the Schwarzkopf before. But I prefer the more ample voice of Jessye Norman in this piece. The glorious ending is doubly glorious with that voice!

@Woodduck, I was once in a rehearsal where Norman was “marking,” and I can attest she was fully audible in that big house. In fact, not knowing the selection at the time, she sounded so radiant in those pianissimo phrases that when she sang out during the concert proper, I was slightly disappointed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm quite pleased as the voting is fairly evenly divided but slightly favoring Schwarzkopf, which I predicted. I wonder how one would reacted to a live performance of these three ladies. Norman's voice would likely have been twice the size of the other prima donnas'.
 

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Well, as I said before, Schwarzkopf never sang the role in the theatre. In her youth she sang Sophie before graduating to the Marschallin and Countess Madeleine. That she is known as a Strauss soprano is no doubt also due to the fact that she regularly performed his Vier letzte Lieder.
 
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