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Reviews: Strauss: Four Last Songs, Wagner: Prelude & Liebestod - Runnicles

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Reviews: 4

Site review by Castor October 21, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Site review by Polly Nomial December 20, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Review by thepilot September 20, 2006 (10 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
The good news first: here we have a true Wagner/Strauss voice that soars above the stave so easily and does the big crescento in Beim Schlafengehen so splendidly, that one is reminded of Jessye Norman's rendition for Philips (with Masur). Yes the voice is a true miracle of an operatic soprano at her prime, and the only thing we can do is really enjoy the Four Last Songs.
The Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde is also very very good, but here we have a more calculated rendition, one that surely does not banish the memory of the great Wagner voices of the past (Birgit Nillson in particular).
Tod und Verklarung is glorious and the orchestra play like angels in a very germanic, a very Wagnerian way, dark, brooding, menacing, this is all splendidly done.
The sound is absolutely perfect and the new ribbon mics that Telarc uses now for voices, are really good, that is Christine Brewer appears magically in front of you, of course if your system can cope with the wide dymanic range.
Tha bad news? We want more of this, that is splendid performances in perfect sound from Telarc and not one SACD every two months.

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Review by gonzostick April 29, 2010 (5 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Musically, there is NOTHING exceptional here.

Spectacular recording of the subaudio rumble of the Atlanta Symphony Hall air conditioning, in need of serious repair... UGH... If the engineers did not use speakers that can reproduce the rumble, DSD does them the favor of making it evident.

The soprano has a huge, inflexible voice, with a terrible, problematic wobble and somewhat erratic pitch control. This is especially so in the Strauss orchestra lieder. She is often late with rhythm and approximate in some pitches.

The orchestra, too, has intonation problems that keep this disc from being really special. Chords that should be properly balanced and completely in tune are not upon arrival, then sometimes are not adjusted. Also, some releases are less that unanimous in the ensemble. The viola solo in the Strauss songs is terrible.

The conducting is passable. No inspiration, here.

Except for the rumble, the recording is very good.

Better performances of this music:

On SACD: Szell for the Wagner and the Death and Transfiguration on CBS/SONY discs.

On RBCD: Gundula Janowitz and Karajan with Berlin on a disc that includes a diaphanous Death and Transfiguration and the Four Last Songs. The tam-tam used is nothing short of marvelous. Janowitz' voice is as pure as laser light, perfectly on pitch, powerful, and completely flexible, so the music has an incredible sense of flow to it. Better still, the Berlin Philharmonic plays perfectly in tune in music that needs it, due to its wandering tonal centers.

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