This disc is surely one of the most heavenly, inspired recordings in the catalogue. And at mid-price!!
Most people adore Schwarzkopf, the light and shadow, subtle inflections of tone, her beautiful, radiant voice bringing them to raptures of delight. Some can't stand her, finding her over-interpreting everything and not letting the music speak for itself. I fall very firmly into the former category.
People will always argue whether this performance of the Four Last Songs or the one she made 12 years earlier with Ackerman is superior. Let me be very clear - both are sublime, both are different, and if you can afford it, get both, like you would two recordings from different singers. If you can't afford both, get either. The earlier recording is more impassioned, fresher voiced. The latter recording (here) is more intelligent - it is hard to imagine more insights being poured into every word. It has a restrained, elegant passion that can only come from the years of experience Schwarzkopf garnered in these songs.
You will do well supplementing a Schwarzkopf four last songs with a larger voice like Norman or Studer, and a cleaner, purer, more silvery voice like Janowitz or Auger. But Schwarzkopf is the best place to start.
The vier letzte lieder aren't the only thing on this disc. The other Strauss lieder are just as delightful. Every time I return to this disc I'm struck afresh by just how indescribably beautiful her renditions are. Every time I see this disc in the CD shop I feel tempted to buy it again. I'm not normally that irrational but it's a reflection of how much I love this recital. This should be in every music-lovers collection. Obviously, you needn't hesitate!!