For me, it is difficult to find opera singers who sing, as opposed to sounding like they are gargling with a hot potato. Thankfully, Soile Isokoski is a woman who not only sings, but whose heart manages to express the inexpressible.
She has exquisite delicacy, softness and tenderness when called for (listen to her unforgetable rendition of Morgen!) and an enormous range of intensity that can leave you emotionally exhausted (for example listen to Befreit). Yet, she never loses her restraint, which leaves one with the feeling that she is always singing to you, rather than warbling to you. Her voice is everything I always wanted, but never really found. Consequently, for me this CD is not easy listening: It is a powerful spiritual experience that resonates with that inner ache and longing for the divine, and as such demands that one emotionally fully engage to it.
One thing I dislike about so called legendary performances of the Four Last Songs is the quality of the music. To my ears, performances recorded before the 1980's generally sound like the music is being played in the neighbours living room - boxy and lacking in dynamic range. It is therefore wonderful to hear the music in this CD so clear, present and beautifully recorded.
For anyone who is thinking about discovering the songs of R. Strauss for the first time, this is the CD that will not leave you disappointed. The more you listen to it, the more you discover, and the more it moves you and makes you weep. R.Strauss was the last great romantic, and here you discover what that can really mean. It seems that Soile is a rising star not because she shows a lot cleavage on the front cover, but because her voice touches your soul, and for this she deserves our gratitude.