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4.7 out of 5 stars
Richard Strauss: The Complete Songs Volume 6
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£13.18+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 27 August 2015
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on 1 December 2012
With all their swooning and sighing, Strauss's Lieder can, in the wrong hands, turn sickly. This latest instalment in Hyperion Records' edition of the Complete Songs, however, is a model of sentiment over sentimentality. Cardiff Recital Prize-winner Elizabeth Watts and pianist Roger Vignoles refine though never distance themselves (or their listeners) from these glorious songs and the emotions tell brilliantly on this fine addition to the survey.

Rather than the coy spin of Keira Duffy on Volume 5, Watts offers a richer tone, which gives real emotional weight to the material. She lends urgency to the 1883 song 'Rote Rosen', while its 1880 companion 'Die erwachte Rose' is performed with comparative delicacy. Vignoles gives an impression of Luftpausen at the tops of its phrases, becoming giddy in 'Blick vom oberen Belvedere', which Watts floats with ease.

Following such blooming delights and vistas, the main focus of the volume is Strauss's 1918 song cycle Krämerspiegel. A private attack against his publishers, the in-jokes of the texts may slightly evade us, yet Watts and Vignoles perform responsively and wittily. The tittering piccolo-like decorations in the accompaniment and the pert placement of 'O Schröpferschwarm, o Händlerkreis' put you immediately in mind of Rosenkavalier. After such mordant humour, Strauss's final song 'Malven' - written in 1949 as a tribute to Maria Jeritza - offers a tender final flower.
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on 2 December 2012
Here is another volume in the Hyperion Strauss song series, exquisitely sung by Elizabeth Watts accompanied by Roger Vignoles. This is a beautiful collection of songs including rarities as well as more well known songs. The recital includes an introduction for me to the musically rich song cycle Kramerspiegel - delightful with its anticipation of the moonlight music from Capriccio. Elizabeth Watts certainly has a way with words. They are clearly fundamental to her lieder interpretation. There is poise in her telling of each song, using tone colour and weight of tone to add meaning, and often leaning into words to highlight particular text. Das Bachlein is a slightly meandering brook but still has momentum in its delivery. I love the way she uses tone in Malvern to seemingly give each flower its own character. Amidst all this she still produces beautifully sustained phrasing. It is a beautiful voice and Strauss is clearly her thing.
Supportive, expressive and crystalline playing from Roger Vignoles as usual. The well paced accompaniments allow the songs to breathe, which illuminates the almost elegiac quality of the single songs in this collection.
Recorded level is quite low but the sound is beautifully balanced.
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