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1953: 4 Last Songs (Vier Letze [Import]

Richard Strauss Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 9.11
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1. Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs), for soprano & orchestra, o.Op. 150 (TrV 296, AV 150): 'Beim Schlafengehen': 'Nun der Tag mich m
2. Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs), for soprano & orchestra, o.Op. 150 (TrV 296, AV 150): 'September': 'Der Garten trauert'
3. Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs), for soprano & orchestra, o.Op. 150 (TrV 296, AV 150): 'Fruhling': 'In dammrigen Gruften'
4. Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs), for soprano & orchestra, o.Op. 150 (TrV 296, AV 150): 'Im Abendrot': 'Wir sind durch Not und Fr
5. Arabella, opera, Op. 79 (TrV 263): Er ist der Richtige nicht für mich... Aber der Richtige
6. Arabella, opera, Op. 79 (TrV 263): Der Richtige- so hab ich stets zu mir gesagt... Und du wirst mein Gebi
7. Arabella, opera, Op. 79 (TrV 263): Das war sehr gut, Mandryka
8. Ariadne auf Naxos, opera, Op. 60-II (TrV 228a) (revised version): Es gibt ein Reich
9. Capriccio, opera, Op. 85 (TrV 279): No. 1, Orchestral Introduction
10. Capriccio, opera, Op. 85 (TrV 279): No. 2, Wo ist mein Bruder?
11. Capriccio, opera, Op. 85 (TrV 279): No. 3, Morgen mittag um elf!
12. Capriccio, opera, Op. 85 (TrV 279): No. 4, Kein Andres, das mir so im Herzen loht
13. Capriccio, opera, Op. 85 (TrV 279): No. 5, Ihre Liebe schlägt entgegen

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5.0 out of 5 stars NOT TO BE MISSED Nov. 26 2000
Format:Audio CD
As one record reviewer put it: "It was a voice unlike any other." Indeed, for sheer vocal beauty no one matches Lisa della Casa, and a quick sampling of this disc's contents will demonstrate why Strauss himself identified her as his ideal Arabella. The voice's glory was its upper register: full, free, intensely colored, and exciting. But she had other gifts: superlative breath control (amazing in this music), naturalness of utterance, and perfect diction. Her tone quality suggests restrained emotion, and although she is Swiss, I can think of no singer who evokes Viennese elegance better. I like lots of singers past and present, and I admire many, but I worship this voice. If the house were on fire, I'd grab this CD before jumping out the window.
Although the Boehm-led 'Four Last Songs' are a classic performance, I find they are my least favorite part of this recording. Boehm's tempos are a little fast and della Casa, for all her beauty, sounds disengaged. But from then on she is matchless. The 'Arabella' duets are stunning, both for the singer's high level of vocal accomplishment and her ability to convey the character's changing moods. She sounds so genuine and unaffected and the voice is so gorgeous that I find myself drawn into the drama as with no other singer. She has good partners in Gueden and Schoeffler, but Poell brays relentlessly. Her rendition of the passage beginning "Und du wirst mein Gebieter sein" is my number one tear-inducing moment in all of recorded history. The 'Ariadne' aria is nicely sung, although she was even better a few years later for EMI/Testament. The 'Capriccio' final scene is ravishing from beginning to end, with della Casa's voice soaring gloriously above the Vienna Philharmonic's lush carpet of sound.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Rendition? Oct. 10 2000
Format:Audio CD
Lisa della Casa's recording of the Four Last Songs has been a part of my life for the past twenty years; and in my book it beats all the competition, past, present and (probably) future. It may not be your perfect rendition, because one's response to a voice is such a personal, unpredictable thing; but it is certainly mine. Della Casa's shimmering, silvery soprano soars radiantly above the lush, romantic orchestration; and even after many, many times of listening to this disc, I still find something new in it. I never get tired of it, and it never fails to move me. The excerpts from Arabella are also excellent, although not as well recorded as the Four Last Songs. However, they reward repeated listening, and they preserve della Casa's celebrated interpretation of Arabella (her most famous stage role). Even if you have heard other interpreters of the Four Last Songs, and have your own favourite, please give this a try. For sheer tonal beauty, it cannot be beaten.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT TO BE MISSED Nov. 26 2000
By "opernnarr" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
As one record reviewer put it: "It was a voice unlike any other." Indeed, for sheer vocal beauty no one matches Lisa della Casa, and a quick sampling of this disc's contents will demonstrate why Strauss himself identified her as his ideal Arabella. The voice's glory was its upper register: full, free, intensely colored, and exciting. But she had other gifts: superlative breath control (amazing in this music), naturalness of utterance, and perfect diction. Her tone quality suggests restrained emotion, and although she is Swiss, I can think of no singer who evokes Viennese elegance better. I like lots of singers past and present, and I admire many, but I worship this voice. If the house were on fire, I'd grab this CD before jumping out the window.
Although the Boehm-led 'Four Last Songs' are a classic performance, I find they are my least favorite part of this recording. Boehm's tempos are a little fast and della Casa, for all her beauty, sounds disengaged. But from then on she is matchless. The 'Arabella' duets are stunning, both for the singer's high level of vocal accomplishment and her ability to convey the character's changing moods. She sounds so genuine and unaffected and the voice is so gorgeous that I find myself drawn into the drama as with no other singer. She has good partners in Gueden and Schoeffler, but Poell brays relentlessly. Her rendition of the passage beginning "Und du wirst mein Gebieter sein" is my number one tear-inducing moment in all of recorded history. The 'Ariadne' aria is nicely sung, although she was even better a few years later for EMI/Testament. The 'Capriccio' final scene is ravishing from beginning to end, with della Casa's voice soaring gloriously above the Vienna Philharmonic's lush carpet of sound. For once you will see the moonlight shimmer during the orchestral interlude. It's almost too rich and delicious, like Sachertorte for breakfast.
Decca's remastering brings the singer forward and gives the orchestra more presence, but am I the only one who misses some high frequencies as a result? Although there are some terrific Strauss sopranos around these days, no one should be without della Casa. She DEFINES Strauss singing. Don't deny yourself this superlative musical experience.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Rendition? Oct. 10 2000
By p.j.campbell@livjm.ac.uk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Lisa della Casa's recording of the Four Last Songs has been a part of my life for the past twenty years; and in my book it beats all the competition, past, present and (probably) future. It may not be your perfect rendition, because one's response to a voice is such a personal, unpredictable thing; but it is certainly mine. Della Casa's shimmering, silvery soprano soars radiantly above the lush, romantic orchestration; and even after many, many times of listening to this disc, I still find something new in it. I never get tired of it, and it never fails to move me. The excerpts from Arabella are also excellent, although not as well recorded as the Four Last Songs. However, they reward repeated listening, and they preserve della Casa's celebrated interpretation of Arabella (her most famous stage role). Even if you have heard other interpreters of the Four Last Songs, and have your own favourite, please give this a try. For sheer tonal beauty, it cannot be beaten.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing Oct. 20 2004
By Canzone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
From the day it was released all those years ago, this remains one of the most beautiful (Strauss) recordings ever made. It's been available in different versions (I have the earlier release that includes the Wesendonck Lieder with Flagstaf), but it's worth it to get this one for the opera arias. I'm not a big fan of these operas, but it's unlikely you'll ever hear them sung with more beauty or understanding. You may have another favorite recording of the Songs, but you owe it to yourself to listen to what Della Casa does here. And not to slight Bohm either; he obviously knew this music inside out, and is miles ahead of most of his competition.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The music paper hardly dry... Oct. 24 2009
By J.J. de Man - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The musical archeologists of the Decca Legends series dig deep in the mud and not seldom have brought up real gems. A brilliant recording, exemplary performance this. Apart from that, the cd offers us a glimpse in a primordial world of the compostion in question: Four Last Songs. How would it feel to listen to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony only four years after completion? Or Wagner's Ring? Here is, the music paper hardly dry, a view on Strauss' swansong by a renowned Strauss interpreter, a divine soprano and an orchestra which was (and is) perhaps the best in the world.

Not hindered by any tradition of interpretation Della Casa and Böhm have formed the standard by which all my favorites must be gauged. Over 55 years old but as fresh as if the songs were recorded yesterday. You can write pages about the spotless textual interpretation, as well as about the suprisingly up-tempo playing (Im Abendrot clocks under 6 minutes!), the original playing order of the songs (3-2-1-4) and so on. And what about Della Casa's excitingly sultry voice with uniquely distinguishing vibrato?

What I like most about this interpretation is its insistence not to trip into the gaping hole of false sentiment this music appears to embody - a trap in which other famous sopranos (Jessye Norman!) so ostensibly plunge. For this is no music for funerals: this is music accepting death as a transition to another phase - not an end but a beginning, no sadness but comfort. Exactly as Strauss' own philosophy comprised - see for instance Death and Transfiguration, music that tends to rise up instead of move downwards into the earth.

Della Casa's rendition, in the Lieder as well as in the operatic fragments, certainly is not faultless. In Arabella now and then an awkward moment appears. Not all notes are spot on nor exquisitely finished. But who cares when listening to a vocal highwire act of such intensity and soaring sensibility. A flesh and blood singer, not a digital perfectionist.

Finally, Lisa Della Casa's aristocratic posture and 'old-fashioned' beauty must be mentioned, two not unimportant features of any operatic actrice, that must have made a live performance including Della Casa into a very exciting evening indeed. The Arabella fragments with that other operatic beauty from days gone past, Hilde Gueden as Zdenka, make the hearts beat faster in more than one aspect.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect match! Dec 20 2008
By operalover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Strauss is not an easy conductor to sing as it requires a great deal of stamina, control to manage the high tessitura and heady tone. Della Casa's interpretation -the first studio recording of the work sets an example for the rest to follow. Consistently from beginning to end she pours forth luscious silvery reed tones that captures the enigmation of the pieces. Perhaps a little less profound in interpretation but the beauty of the voice is sheer joy. The ease to which she soars is incredible. The rest of the pieces are stunning but I would agree that the Monologue scena from Capriccio crowns this particular disc which the engineers have done exceptionally well in their remastering. There are other great Four Last songs recordings too that often match what Della Casa has delivered and apart from this most cherished disc, any Strauss lover cannot go without the following:
Schwarzkopf with Szell for sheer interpretation although less so for beauty of tone.
Te Kanawa with Davis - the magnificence of the voice is stunning. In a way she parallels Della Casa in their choice of work- they were both exceptional in Strauss and Mozart. Not many people know of this recording.
Norman with Masur- bigger than life and slower but gloriously vibrant.
Janowitz- purity dominates and she gives the work an ethereal quality.
Fleming with Eschenbach- devoid of most mannerisms this is Fleming's most charasmatic Strauss recording to date.
M.Price with Abbado (live)- pity she never recorded it in studio with the likes of Kleiber but the live recording shows the sopranos gift for luminous tone and interpretation.

Overall the standards for the work are exceptional and most past and present day sopranos have recorded the work but most of them apart from the afore-mentioned are not that memorable. But we should find joy in the many that are available to us.
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