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Strauss: Four Last Songs / Anna Netrebko, soprano; Staatskapelle Berlin; Daniel Barenboim

Album Summary

>Strauss, Richard : Four Last Songs, AV 150
>Strauss, Richard : Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Gramophone Magazine, January 2015
[Netrebko] radiates a gorgeous tone, beautifully calibrated in mood and inflection...Barenboim [is] thoroughly at one in finding the music's natural contours and the significant points of instrumental detail...he directs a dramatic but reasoned interpretation [of Ein Heldenleben], by no means grandstanding or overinflated but following the musical narrative with clear ideas.

Fanfare Magazine
She brings a suitably dusky, veiled tone to the entire cycle, with plenty of colour and presence in the middle and lower reaches of the voice...she doesn't go in for the very detailed word-painting of some earlier recordings, but her broader approach to text comes with its own pay-offs: the mood of each phrase is exquisitely judged, and everything feels fresh and spontaneous rather than micro-managed.

The Guardian, 18th December 2014
[Barenboim's] performance revels in the colours that this fabulous orchestra draws from the score...Barenboim's account doesn't swagger as much as some, favouring Wagnerian weightiness instead. It's the orchestral playing the solo horn and violin especially - that's the real treat in the Four Last Songs, too.

BBC Music Magazine, February 2015
Hers is a potentially magnificent instrument imperfectly wielded...One or two odd vowel sounds apart, the German isn't bad...Near-miraculous engineering gives us phenomenal details...but also overblows Daniel Barenboim's most emphatic moments.

Financial Times, 5th December 2014
Netrebko sings with an opulence of voice and colour that doubters should be silenced.

Saving the best for last in the Richard Strauss anniversary 2014. The world's most luxurious soprano, Anna Netrebko, sings Richard Strauss' sumptuous Four Last Songs, accompanied by the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim. The live recording of the charity concert took place in Berlin in August 2014. The world's best-selling active soprano and quite simply, the undisputed superstar - "la prima donna assoluta" (New York Post) - of opera today. Known equally for her poise, her sensuality, her voice's unmistakable color, and her flawless coloratura technique, Anna Netrebko is a phenomenon. Strauss' elegiac Four Last Songs are an exquisite vehicle for her expressive gifts. This is Anna Netrebko's first recording of these gorgeous, iconic songs. Barenboim: conductor, pianist, humanitarian - perhaps the world's most complete living musician. A venerated interpreter of Wagner, Mozart, Beethoven and Bruckner, in many ways the music of Richard Strauss represents the apotheosis of Barenboim's musical ethos. In 1954, the then 11-year-old Barenboim was introduced to his idol, conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. It was Furtwängler who conducted the world premiere of Strauss' Four Last Songs in 1949. The Staatskapelle Berlin, one of Germany's oldest and most prestigious orchestras boasts a proud Strauss tradition, including great performances and recording under the composer himself as well as under great Straussians: Felix Weingartner, Leo Blech, Erich Kleiber, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Otto Klemperer, Clemens Krauss, Hans Knappertsbusch, Joseph Keilberth, Ottmar Suitner and Daniel Barenboim. The Staatskapelle and Barenboim then produce a lush, epic performance of a beloved tone poem, Ein Heldenleben, one of the most vivid and popular tone poems by Strauss, who himself was Generalmusikdirektor of the Staatskapelle a century ago. An appealing, luxurious, hard-cover product for the Christmas gift market.

American Record Guide, March/April 2015
This is such wonderful music. This is a very good recording, and Daniel Barenboim gives it the full treatment, especially in Heldenleben, where he can make all the decisions himself. I was sure that the hero's companion was sweeter and sexier here than in other recordings. This new one has sound that is more immediate, more present, more imposing. I can't imagine sitting right next to Barenboim's solo violinist. He understands the richness and emotionality of the music, and he never just plows thru it. He takes care with every detail, every retard. This is the way it should be conducted.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Berlin, Philharmonie (08/2014).


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Works Details

>Strauss, Richard : Four Last Songs, AV 150
  • Performers: Wolfram Brandl (Violin); Anna Netrebko (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Daniel Barenboim
  • Ensemble: Staatskapelle Berlin
  • Running Time: 21 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 1948
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Strauss, Richard : Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
  • Performer: Wolfram Brandl (Violin)
  • Conductor: Daniel Barenboim
  • Running Time: 45 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1897-1898
  • Studio/Live: Live