I heard this on BBC record review on the day of its release. They played Die Nacht and Befreit. I knew I had to have it and that this is a very special disc. There have been many recordings devoted exclusively to Strauss songs by leading vocalists in the last decade: Jonas Kaufmann (tenor), Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Christine Kharg amongst others. Plus of course generations of recordings dating from Strauss' own recordings with Heinrich Schlusnus back in 1918 (including Die Nacht and other songs included in this CD).
However, I think Louise Alder brings something new, her voice and a deep understanding of Strauss' music. Her voice is crystal clear and yet able to convey emotion, able to move around with precise expression. Her interpretation of Strauss has benefitted from her recent experience as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier (I saw her at Cardiff). I think like Renee Flemming she will have a life long relationship with Strauss and move through the roles from Salome to the Marschallin in her future career.
The collection if songs is fairly standard: all from the golden period of Strauss lieder writing, two decades from 1885-1905, with the one exception of "Enerlei" from 1918. They are sung in such a way that the inner meaning of the songs is brought out, not just the musical beauty. This is what attracted me to them on first hearing. It has most of my personal favourites: along with Die Nacht and Befreit, Das Rosenband, Leises Lied. It also the concert favourites Ruhe Meine Seele, Zueignung, Standchen, Allerseelen and Heimliche Aufforderung. Some of the interpretations are quite unique. Standchen is a quiet and restrained song, as if the lover is trying to avoid waking the parents and not the spirited exhortation as usual.
The accompaniment is also excellent: Alder and Joseph Middleton go together well. I can recommend this CD to any lover of Strauss songs. This is the first recording of a very promising singer with a lot of talent! I look forward to her exploring some of the less well known parts of the Strauss repertoire and longer songs: fruhlingsfeiere, Notturno, des dichters abendgang.