33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
maybe a classic ... but an intrusively mannered one!,
This review is from: Strauss - Four Last Songs 12 Orchestral Songs (Audio CD)
what to add to this recording that hasn't been written already? it has been hyped as probably THE recording of the four last songs ever since its initial release ... an opinion i strongly disagree with. true, szell and his orchestra weave the most delicate textures and its hard to fault them on that account - but i find it hard to be moved either. elisabeth schwarzkopf seems to be a 'monstre sacree' nowadays (i mean this ironic!), where criticism feels like starting a feud. on her account i have to say that she is more artist than an artist can ever hope to be, but i often find myself wondering where the singer is behind all the interpretation! i do adore the young schwarzkopf (mid 1940's up to the mid to late 1950's ... probably with around 1958 the breaking point) and her earlier recording of the four last songs under ackermann is truly magical. but by the mid 60's her singing was all about art and not so much about music anymore. her inflections, even if carefully weighed, can seem mannered in a way that defeats the flow of the music itself - and the strange colouration of the vowels will always be an acquired taste. to sum it up, in this version it all seems coldly calculated and presented but not lived. it's pretty (and frau legge can still float a gorgeous line ... but sometimes her cooing comes close to cats meowing as well!) but in a synthesized way, where the emotion is fake and not real.
if you want a really great recording of the four last songs, go for della casa, isokowski, norman, janowitz, fleming or mattila ... or indeed jurinac (although one has to get used to very dimn orchestral accompaniment), or if it has to be schwarzkopf (and in general schwarzkopf is a good choice!) then do choose the earlier version under ackermann!