RICHARD STRAUSS – Four Last Songs (Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, George Szell, Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, The London Symphony Orchestra) (1997)

Review by: Dominic Linde
Album assigned by: Sharon Durand 

I may be the worst person in the world to have been chosen to write this review, as I am not one for vocalists in classical music. There’s a tendency for words to be over-pronounced, vibrato to be applied liberally, phrasing to be inhuman and showy. But at the same time, I don’t speak German. I don’t know what it’s supposed to sound like. I just know I don’t like this. If the singing were replaced by trumpet or violin, just as an example, I think it would be much preferable and I’d be able to get through it. In fact, I enjoy the countermelodies Strauss employs with the string section. It’s just the infernal vibrato-tinged voice that makes this release unlistenable.

I know this is an unfair assessment, but I am simply not the person to be reviewing this. The music is moving, the motifs are slightly dissonant but ultimately pleasing. The energy is lilting and morose at the same time. Then Elisabeth Schwarzkopf comes in and it’s torture. I’m sorry. I can’t listen to it. I got through a couple of lieders, but my head hurts.
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Author: tomymostalas

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