Anne Schwanewilms and Four Last Songs

Schwanewilms-StraussFrom the same Orfeo label that brought us Pieczonka’s Wesendonck Lieder and Puccini CDs comes this recording of Schwanewilms’ Four Last Songs + select operatic Strauss. It’s likelier that you’ve come across the German soprano’s Strauss on DVD as Die Frau or the Marschallin, though there are a couple of her recordings of the Strauss songs that have all but the Four Last. (An interesting discography, ranging from Verdi’s Desdemona to Schreker and Messiaen, here.)

Vier letzte Lieder, then, and the final soprano arias from Arabella and Capriccio, as well as the final trio of the Rosenkavalier with Jutta Boehnert as Sophie and Regina Richter as Octavian. Everything is very pretty, subtle, attractively icy; orchestra provides the warmth with atmospheric string shimmers and woodwind solos. The Four Songs will stand out as the solid, serious contribution to the rich tradition. You may even occasionally stop the comparisons with Jessye Norman’s version (or the one that’s your gold standard; probably Jessye Norman, anyway.) Thanks to artists like Schwanewilms, Röschmann, and Stemme, the flame keeps on keeping on.

With Gürzenich-Orchester Köln conducted by Markus Stenz.

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