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Strauss: Four Last Songs, Etc / Norman, Masur, Gewandhaus


Release Date: 08/14/2007 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 000943302   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Jessye Norman
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 45 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Jessye Norman has made many excellent records, but perhaps none so wholly recommendable as this one. Her generous heart, dignified manner and noble voice seem ideally suited to Strauss's valedictory utterances, and when she made this record in June of last year she seems to have been in wonderful voice, the top soaring up to the heights more freely than has sometimes been the case of late. Her breath seems almost endless at times, her tone refulgent and full so that I doubt if the Vier letzte Lieder have sounded so rich in texture since Flagstad, their first interpreter, sang them, so placing a quite different light on them from that of Schwarzkopf or Popp (both HMV). Te Kanawa (CBS) comes closest to Norman but to my mind, at predominantly Read more laster speeds, she comes nowhere near Norman's achievement in probing to the soul of this ineffable music.

The whole of the final section of "September", fully sung yet perfectly controlled, the added intensity at the key phrase "Und die Seele unbewacht" in "Beim Schlafengehen" with the high A flat positively radiant, and the still resignation of "so lief im Abendrot" in the last song are just some of the memorable moments that I am still savouring. Masur and the Leipzig Gewand haus provide appropriately refined, almost translucent support for the singer. My only worry is that the orchestra sometimes has that no-man's-land feeling of some digital recordings. I withdraw none of my. admiration for the merits of the earlier records listed above, but for once I would give the new version a confident nod as the one to have.

Norman's backing is comparable with Te Kanawa's: the records share three of the orchestral settings of Strauss's songs. Once more the tempos are all slower on the new disc. Wiegenlied, in particular, gains from the extra 'space', and its dreamy mood is beautifully sustained by Norman, as is the unsettled atmosphere of Ruhe, meine Seele, while Cacille and Zueignung receive the broad phrasing and bloom they call for.

A.B., Gramophone [10/1983] Reviewing original release
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Works on This Recording

1. Four Last Songs, AV 150 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Jessye Norman (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1948; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/1982 
Venue:  Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 25 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Language: German 
2. Lieder (4), Op. 27: no 2, Cäcilie by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Jessye Norman (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/1982 
Venue:  Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Orchestrated: Richard Strauss, 1897 
3. Lieder (4), Op. 27: no 4, Morgen by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Jessye Norman (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/1982 
Venue:  Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Orchestrated: Richard Strauss, 1897 
4. Lieder (5), Op. 41: no 1, Wiegenlied by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Jessye Norman (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/1982 
Venue:  Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Orchestrated: Richard Strauss // ?1916 
5. Lieder (4), Op. 27: no 1, Ruhe, meine Seele by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Jessye Norman (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/1982 
Venue:  Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Orchestrated: Richard Strauss, 1948 
6. Lieder (6), Op. 37: no 3, Meinem Kinde by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Jessye Norman (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/1982 
Venue:  Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Orchestrated: Richard Strauss, 1897 
7. Lieder (8), Op. 10: no 1, Zueignung by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Jessye Norman (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/1982 
Venue:  Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Orchestrated: Hegel 

Sound Samples

Vier letzte Lieder: 1. Frühling
Vier letzte Lieder: 2. September
Vier letzte Lieder: 3. Beim Schlafengehen
Vier letzte Lieder: 4. Im Abendrot
Caecilie, Op.27, No.2
Morgen, Op.27, No.4
Wiegenlied, Op.41, No.1
Ruhe, meine Seele, Op.27, No.1
Meinem Kinde, Op.37, No.3
Zueignung, Op.10, No.1

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 The best ever of these songs you will ever hear! July 25, 2013 By P. Ledesma (Wellington, KS) See All My Reviews "This recording is something that I will keep beside me as my life winds down! I even have it in my funeral plan because it is the composer's farewell (as well as mine). If you like the brisk tempo of the Karajan/Janowitz version, you may see this drawn out lyrical love fest as drudgery. I love both versions, but this one has kept me entranced since it first time I'd allowed it's grandeur to penetrate my soul! The support of Norman's sound and diction is incomparable. Mazur's care for each and every nuance of the score details (besides possible metronome markings)is virtually incomparable to any performance of music that dares to ask eternal questions about our post life destiny! I know Richard Strauss had issues about the afterlife, but even fundamentalist composers that share my Biblical views do not approach the destiny issue as emotionally committed as this recording dares to trod! This one is in my top 3 of my life! Give it a listen!" Report Abuse
 Stunning  October 26, 2012 By B. Samms (Kingston Beach, Tasmania) See All My Reviews "This album is not just great. It is thrilling. From the opening track (Fruhling), which showcases Norman's power and artistry in a spine tingling, totally amazing way, to the deep emotion of Im Abentrot the listener is taken on a very special ride indeed. The sheer beauty of Morgan just makes one melt. Parsons and Masur provide beautiful accompaniments.I cannot recommend this CD enough. I have versions of this from Schwarzkopf, Popp and a range of other great singers. Nothing compares. A 5 star rating is not enough." Report Abuse
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