Vier Letzte Lieder
Richard Strauss: Lieder und Arien
Christian Thielemann, conductor
I am not going to say that this recording is the best ever released of Vier Letzte Lieder and of Richard Strauss’s other songs – everyone has his or her favourite soprano and I have no intention to interfere with your preferences… But allow me to say at least that this is a beautiful album by two great interpreters: soprano Renée Fleming and conductor Christian Thielemann.
Renée Fleming has devoted great part of her career to Richard Strauss’s music. She has recorded many of his operas and has sung Lieder and arias in solo albums. This cannot be considered but a good choice, since Fleming understands Strauss’s music to perfection and her melodious and sweet voice suits his style in a natural way. The tessitura of the songs and arias collected in this album (the Vier Letzte Lieder alongside with arias from Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Agyptische Helena and other works) allows Fleming to avoid the low register, which is a little weak, and to give prominence to her velvety middle and high registers.
Fleming’s taste and expression make the Vier Letzte Lieder an unforgettable experience, especially in their vocalizes (September is a masterpiece), and they are so enchanting that you regret they are so short. Nonetheless, there are other arias where Fleming is even better. I think in particular to two of the arias from Ariadne (Ein schones war hie Theseus and Es gibt ein Reich) and to Verführung, where the soprano has the opportunity to show her musical command in a more powerful, almost theatrical way. They deserve to be listen to again and again.
Christian Thielemann’s conduction is spectacular. The continual fluency of music becomes like the ebb and flow of the tide and he is such an inspired, sensitive interpreter that every piece is a surprise. I remember in particular the magical September and the wonderful development of Verfürung.