R Strauss – Complete Songs, Vol. 4

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COMPOSERS: R Strauss
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Complete Songs, Vol. 4: Fünf Lieder, Op. 15; Lieder, Op. 87; Lied an meinen Sohn, Op. 39/5 etc
PERFORMER: Christopher Maltman (baritone), Alastair Miles (bass), Roger Vignoles (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67667

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Christopher Maltman and Alastair Miles follow the distinguished examples of Fischer-Dieskau and Hans Hotter in proving that Strauss was more than just a composer of soprano-friendly, loving-rapturous songs.

The present baritone and pianist Vignoles can be a little reserved with the fulsome outbursts the young Strauss uses to underline the more blustering verses of Adolf von Schack. However, there’s a special refinement here which Fischer‑Dieskau did not always capture for the brighter episodes (magical in the best-known of the Op. 15 set, ‘Heimkehr’).

Unexpected notes of smoky mystery, youthful defiance and solidarity with the working man characterise the settings of Richard Dehmel before Maltman and Vignoles strike the right note of hard-won simplicity for Goethe’s ‘Gefunden’ and Heine’s ‘Mit deinen blauen Augen’. Miles then signs in with the wonderful night-boat meditation of Op. 56 No. 4, underlining the need for a true bass with the last low D flat.

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He lacks the panache to carry off the vocal leaps of ‘Erschaffen und Beleben’, but his imposing timbre fits the operatic scope of the three Rückert settings. David Nice