Wagner/Strauss: ristan und Isolde (excerpts) Die Walküre (excerpts); Wesendonck Lieder; Im Abendrot; Verfübrung

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COMPOSERS: Wagner/Strauss
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: ristan und Isolde (excerpts) Die Walküre (excerpts); Wesendonck Lieder; Im Abendrot; Verfübrung
PERFORMER: René Kollo, Ingrid Haubold Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin/Christian Thielemann
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 7 54776 2 DDD
René Kollo here gives a rather odd and sadly over-ambitious programme of Wagner and Strauss Lieder originally written for the female voice. He starts with the Wesendonck Lieder, Wagner’s settings of the somewhat over-ripe lyrics of his then mistress Mathilde Wesendonck, and though there is nothing intrinsically objectionable in Felix Mottl’s tenor arrangement (previously recorded by Lauritz Melchior), the cycle’s peculiarly languid intimacy, especially in a delicate song such as ‘Im Treibhaus’, is rather lost to Kollo’s Heldentenor voice, which is here often harder and more strained than usual, with an almost coarse vibrato in the high notes.

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The best moment is a biting account of the fourth of the five songs, ‘Schmerzen’. Similar problems afflict die two Strauss Lieder Kollo chooses, ‘Im Abendrot’ from die Four Last Songs and ‘Verführung’, which are lacking in the warm ruefulness we might expect from a soprano. None of this is helped by a balance that gives die voice too much prominence, though the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper under Christian Thielemann is in any case fairly subdued. Kollo is more convincing in the operatic extracts, as Tristan and Siegmund, though these too fall short of his previous recordings as Stolzing and Siegfried, which would have made a more satisfying showcase. William Humphreys-Jones