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Strauss: Four Last Songs, Arabella, Etc / Della Casa, Et Al


Release Date: 10/10/2000 
Label:  London/Decca Legends Catalog #: 467118   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Lisa Della CasaPaul SchoefflerAlfred PoellHilde Gueden,   ... 
Conductor:  Karl BöhmHeinrich HollreiserRudolf Moralt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Richard Strauss seems to have been pretty calm on the subject of death. The story goes that on his last visit to London in 1948, at the age of 84, he was interviewed by a woman whose last question was, “And what are your future plans, Dr. Strauss?” To which he is said to have replied, “To die.” My own view of the subject is by no means so resigned. But if anything could reconcile me to the idea of death as something not to get too upset about, it would be Strauss’s Four Last Songs. “Im Abendrot,” particularly, is music of such radiant acceptance—acceptance no less touching and at the same time more serenely intimate, than that of the last movement of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde—that it reveals the prospect of one’s eventual extinction as Read more a topic to be considered with at least some degree of equanimity.

Much depends, of course, on the singer. Among the great Strauss sopranos of the last 50 years or so, Lisa Della Casa holds high rank. Her performance of the Four Last Songs, recorded in 1953, stands as one of the finest I have ever heard. There are touches in Schwarzkopf’s reading of “Im Abendrot” that thrill by virtue of their sheer musical intelligence, and other fine singers from Lucia Popp to Soile Isokoski have brought their individual insights and expressivity to the music. But for sheer vocal beauty, lyrical poise, and what I may call divine simplicity, Della Casa may well be unrivaled.

It happens that back in the 1960s, before I reached my proudest achievement as a critic in being banned by the Metropolitan Opera, I had the good fortune to see and hear the Swiss singer twice in an opera that is especially dear to me, Arabella. Here again, her assumption of the title role was close to being unsurpassed, though around 1983 the American soprano Ashley Putnam reached similar heights of dramatic identification and musical splendor at the Holland Festival, and then at Glyndebourne in a superb production, conducted by Bernard Haitink, that is still available on DVD. Three of the most wonderful “plums” from this underrated masterpiece are included on this disc, all of them duets: “Aber der Richtige,” where Della Casa is joined by Hilde Gueden as a glorious Zdenka; “Und du wirst mein Gebieter sein,” with the great Paul Schöffler as Mandryka; and “Das war sehr gut, Mandryka,” in which her partner is Alfred Poell.

As if all this were not enough, we are also given a thrilling “Es gibt ein Reich,” from Ariadne auf Naxos, and the intellectually and emotionally fascinating final scene from Capriccio, with Franz Bierbach contributing the major-domo’s few lines. Karl Böhm conducts the Four Last Songs, and podium responsibilities in the operatic excerpts are shared between Rudolf Moralt and Heinrich Hollreiser. The Vienna Philharmonic sounds like its sumptuous self throughout, and the mono recordings, all dating from 1953 and 1954, are thoroughly acceptable in tonal bloom and textural lucidity. But the main interest is in Della Casa, and she sustains it in such a way as to make this a disc irresistible in its human and musical appeal.

FANFARE: Bernard Jacobson
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Works on This Recording

1. Four Last Songs, AV 150 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Lisa Della Casa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1948; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1953 
Venue:  Great Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 18 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: German 
2. Arabella, Op. 79: Und du wirst mein Gebieter sein by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Paul Schoeffler (Bass Baritone), Lisa Della Casa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1929-1932; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1954 
Venue:  Great Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection begins with "Der Richtige - so hab ich stets zu mir
gesagt." 
3. Arabella, Op. 79: Das war sehr gut, Mandryka by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Alfred Poell (Baritone), Lisa Della Casa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Rudolf Moralt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1929-1932; Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/1953 
Venue:  Great Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 8 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Language: German 
4. Ariadne auf Naxos, Op. 60: Es gibt ein Reich by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Lisa Della Casa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911/1916; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1954 
Venue:  Great Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 5 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Language: German 
5. Arabella, Op. 79: Aber der Richtige by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Hilde Gueden (Soprano), Lisa Della Casa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Rudolf Moralt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1929-1932; Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/1953 
Venue:  Great Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection begins with "Er ist der Richtige nicht für mich." 
6. Capriccio, Op. 85: Interlude "Moonlight Music" by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1940-1941; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1954 
Venue:  Great Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 3 Minutes 43 Secs. 
7. Capriccio, Op. 85: Wo ist mein Bruder? by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Lisa Della Casa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1940-1941; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1954 
Venue:  Great Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 1 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Language: German 
8. Capriccio, Op. 85: Morgenmittag um elf! by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Lisa Della Casa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1940-1941; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1954 
Venue:  Great Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 1 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: German 
9. Capriccio, Op. 85: Kein Andres, das mir so im Herzen loht by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Franz Bierbach (Tenor)
Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1940-1941; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1954 
Venue:  Great Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 4 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: German 
10. Capriccio, Op. 85: Ihr Liebe schlägt mir entgegen by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Lisa Della Casa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Date of Recording: 04/1954 
Venue:  Great Hall, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 9 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Language: German 

Sound Samples

Vier letzte Lieder: 3. Beim Schlafengehen
Vier letzte Lieder: 2. September
Vier letzte Lieder: 1. Frühling
Vier letzte Lieder: 4. Im Abendrot
Arabella, Lyrische Komödie in drei Aufzügen - Act 1: "Er ist der Richtige nicht für mich!"
Arabella, Lyrische Komödie in drei Aufzügen - Act 2: "Der Richtige - so hab ich still zu mir gesagt"
Arabella, Lyrische Komödie in drei Aufzügen - Act 3: "Das war sehr gut, Mandryka"
Ariadne auf Naxos, Op.60 - Opera: "Es gibt ein Reich"
Capriccio, Op.85 - Letzte Szene: Andante con moto (Mondscheinmusik)
Capriccio, Op.85 - Letzte Szene: Wo ist mein Bruder?
Morgen Mittag um elf!
Capriccio, Op.85 - 4. Szene: Kein andres, das mir so im Herzen loht (Olivier)
Capriccio, Op.85: Ihre Liebe schlägt mir entgegen

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