As great as her reputation as an opera singer was, her work on the recital and concert stage had even higher acclaim. Her fame as a recitalist was matched only by that of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Her appearances were eagerly awaited around the world. In particular, her interpretations of the songs of Schubert, Strauss, and Wolf were admired. She is one of the few singers who was able to fulfill all of the requirements of an evening devoted to the songs of Wolf. On the concert stage she was often heard in cantatas and Passions of Bach, as well as the Verdi Requiem and symphonies of Mahler.
The voice of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in her very early career was a light high soprano with excellent control of fioritura and breath control. As she matured, the middle and lower registers became much stronger and she began to sing more dramatic scores while giving up the lighter roles. By the late 1950s, she concentrated her operatic appearances on five or six roles to which she devoted great energy developing her interpretations to their highest level. This attention to detail and constant probing for added interpretive depth is the reason some writers find her performances too mannered and studied. In the recording studio, where she would work for hours perfecting one phrase, she was aided by her husband, record producer Walter Legge, in finding the perfect vocal color and phrasing to illuminate each piece. Even her most vocal critics stand in awe of the hard work that she brought to bear on even the simplest of songs. It is as a Mozart, Strauss and Wolf interpreter that Elisabeth Schwarzkopf will always be remembered. Read less
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