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STRAUSS SONGS
Dame Felicity Lott & Graham Johnson

 

 

 
1. Strauss, Richard [2:48]
Waldseligkeit Op.49 No.1 (1900-1901)

2. Strauss, Richard [2:59]
Die Nacht Op.10 No.3 (1885)

3. Strauss, Richard [2:31]
Ständchen Op.17 No.2 (1886)

4. Strauss, Richard [2:27]
Leises Lied Op.39 No.1 (1898)

5. Strauss, Richard [2:30]
Schlechtes Wetter Op.69 No.5 (1918)

6. Strauss, Richard [5:20]
Des Dichters Abendgang Op.47 No.2 (1900)

7. Strauss, Richard [1:53]
Der Stern Op.69 No.1 (1918)

8. Strauss, Richard [1:20]
Die Verschwiegenen Op.10 No.6 (1885)

9. Strauss, Richard [1:42]
Die Zeitlose Op.10 No.7 (1885)

10. Strauss, Richard [2:22]
Blauer Sommer Op.31 No.1 (1895-1896)

11. Strauss, Richard [2:58]
Ich wollt ein Sträußlein binden Op.68 No.2 (1918)

12. Strauss, Richard [3:43]
Ruhe meine Seele! Op.27 No.1 (1894)

13. Strauss, Richard [3:32]
Allerseelen Op.10 No.8 (1885)

14. Strauss, Richard [2:48]
Einerlei Op.69 No.3 (1918)

15. Strauss, Richard [2:27]
Meinem Kinde Op.37 No.3 (1897)

16. Strauss, Richard [4:34]
Wiegenlied Op.41 No.1 (1899)

17. Strauss, Richard [2:20]
Muttertändelei Op.43 No.2 (1899)

18. Strauss, Richard [1:55]
Zueignung Op.10 No.1 (1885)

19. Strauss, Richard [2:52]
Winterweihe Op.48 No.4 (1900)

20. Strauss, Richard [3:21]
Das Rosenband Op.36 No.1 (1897)

21. Strauss, Richard [2:22]
Cäcilie Op.27 No.2 (1894)

22. Strauss, Richard [2:05]
Ach! was Kummer Qual und Schmerzen Op.49 No.8 (1901)

23. Strauss, Richard [2:27]
DREI LIEDER DER OPHELIA OP. 67 (1918) No.1: Wie erkenn’ ich mein Treulieb vor andern nun

24. Strauss, Richard [1:25]
DREI LIEDER DER OPHELIA OP. 67 (1918) No.2: Guten Morgen ‘s ist Sankt Valentinstag

25. Strauss, Richard [3:54]
DREI LIEDER DER OPHELIA OP. 67 (1918) No.3: Sie trugen ihn auf der Bahre bloss

26. Strauss, Richard [4:05]
MORGEN! OP.27 NO.2 (1894)

Artist(s):
Dame Felicity Lott, Soprano
Graham Johnson, Piano


This delightful recital of Strauss Songs by Dame Felicity Lott focuses on songs composed between 1885 and 1901, the years of Strauss’ richest song-writing genius.
Partnered by her long-time collaborator, Graham Johnson, Dame Felicity sings various Nocturnes and Fantasises, songs about Flowers, and then, grouped as “Valedictions and Lullabies”, some of Strauss’ best-known songs, including Allerseelen and Muttertändelei. Following, “Girls In and Out of Love” (including Winterweihe and Cäcilie) gives way to the three Ophelia songs from 1918
The disc concludes with one of his best-loved songs ‘Morgen’. This is the last of the four Op.27 wedding-gift songs for his wife, Pauline de Ahna: “…breathless rapture turned into music, one of the great songs of the world…” [Michael Kennedy, 2003]

Dame Felicity Lott is considered one of the greatest sopranos of the 21st Century. Her operatic repertoire ranges from Handel to Stravinsky; and her formidable international reputation is as an interpreter of the great roles of Mozart and Strauss.
Graham Johnson is recognised as one of the world’s leading vocal accompanists. He was made an OBE in the 1994 Queen's Birthday Honours list and he was also made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in February 2010.


 

 


A GARLAND OF STRAUSS SONGS

All but seven of the Lieder by Richard Strauss included on this disc were composed between 1885 and 1901, the years of the richest flowering of his genius in this field. In the last seven years of this period he was married to the soprano Pauline de Ahna, who had been his pupil since 1887. Until her retirement in 1906 they gave many recitals together at which she sang most of the songs here sung by Dame Felicity Lott. For this CD Graham Johnson has divided them into four categories.

Nocturnes and Fantasies

Strauss went to contemporary poets for many of his texts. He set eleven poems by Richard Dehmel (1863–1920). Waldseligkeit (Woodland Bliss) is the first of the eight songs of Op.49, composed in 1901, and taken from a collection called Redemptions. It is dedicated to Pauline and its concluding words are ‘I am completely my own yet entirely yours’. The music, in Strauss’s favourite key for rapture, F sharp, describes a nocturnal wanderer in the rustling forest. Its floating cantilena looks far ahead to the serenity of the Four Last Songs. Strauss’s flair for romantic nocturnal tone- painting had been demonstrated as early as 1885, when he was 21, in Die Nacht (The Night), the third of his eight Op.10 settings of Hermann von Gilm (1812–1864). Its opening phrase is already an echt-Strauss melody. But the song which made Strauss famous was composed over a year later, in December 1886. Ständchen (Serenade), with its filigree accompaniment to a haunting melody, is the second of six settings, Op.17, of Adolf Friedrich von Schack (1815–1894). Strauss came to deplore the song’s popularity, but he couldn’t avoid it. Leises Lied (Gentle Song) is another Dehmel setting, Op.39 No.1 of 1898. It is a meditation in a

garden at night near a fountain, as the lover longs for his absent beloved in music of delicate impressionism – Strauss’s only use in song of the whole-tone scale. With Schlechtes Wetter (Terrible Weather), Op.69 No.5, composed in 1918 to a poem by Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), we encounter Strauss in his wittiest light mood. It is

raining and snowing, as the piano tells us, but the mother goes shopping to buy the ingredients for the cake she wants to bake for her golden-haired daughter. And it ends as a waltz. We are back to the music of eventide in Des Dichters Abendgang (The Poet’s Evening Walk), the second of the five Lieder, Op.47, all settings of Ludwig Uhland (1787–1862) composed in 1900 and the only one of the set which Strauss later (June 1918) orchestrated. It was originally written for a tenor, but the orchestral version was for soprano. Both published versions are in the key of D flat. The opening describes the sunset (‘very quiet and solemn’). The poet gazes into a temple ‘where heavenly fantasies abound’ and its magic spell will stay with him to light him on his gloomy path. Achim von Arnim (1781–1831) wrote Der Stern (The Star) to mark the appearance in 1811 of a great comet. Strauss set the poem on 21 June 1918 on the spur of the moment as Op.69 No.1. It is almost like a folk song in its gentle style.

Flowers

Die Verschwiegenen (The Discreet Ones) and Die Zeitlose (The Meadow Saffron) are Nos.6 and 7 of the Op.10 Gilm set of 1885. Both are short, almost epigrammatic, the former written in a declamatory mode as the lover proclaims that he has told all the flowers of ‘the wrong you did me’ but not to worry because those who knew of it are now dead. The saffron, says the second song, has poison in the calyx, like love. Strauss set three poems by Carl Busse (1872–1918) in 1895–6 as part of his Op.31, a wedding gift to his sister Johanna. Blauer Sommer (Blue Summer) describes the heat of summer through the device of a five-bar theme repeated identically five times in the accompaniment but transposed down a minor third each time, while the voice, after the first statement, goes its own way.

Strauss composed no songs between 1906 and 1918, partly because Pauline retired and partly because of a copyright dispute. When he resumed, he wrote the six masterly Op.68 settings of Clemens Brentano (1778–1842) for Elizabeth Schumann,

who never sang them all. But she did sing the enchanting Ich wollt ein Sträusslein binden (I would have made you a bouquet), half-wistful, half-tragic with chromatic harmonies underlining the pathos.

Valedictions and Lullabies

This group contains some of Strauss’s best and best-known songs. Ruhe, meine Seele! (Rest, my soul!) is the first of the four Op.27 songs which he gave to Pauline on their wedding day in 1894. The words are by Karl Henckell (1864–1929) and are an imprecation to rest by one whose troubles lie behind him. It is a dark, sombre, wonderful song. Allerseelen (All Souls Day) is the eighth of the Op.10 Gilm set and could have been included in the Flowers group. It is one of Strauss’s most lyrical songs, a love-song in E flat set against the background of the flower-decked graves of the dead. Einerlei (Singular One), No.3 of the Op.69 Arnim settings is an ingenious, catchy little song, its melody anticipated in the piano prelude. Of the three lullabies, Meinem Kinde (To my Child), Op.37 No.3, poem by Gustav Falke (1853–1916), was composed in 1897 during Pauline’s pregnancy. Wiegenlied (Cradle Song), words by Dehmel, Op.41 No.1, composed 1899, is sheer enchantment; and Muttertändelei (Mother- Chatter) Op.43 No.2, with words by Gottfried Bürger (1747–1794) is an ecstatic expression of a mother’s belief that her child is the best ever. The first song in Op.10, Zueignung (Dedication) is an ecstatic outpouring but also a valediction – ‘Habe Dank’ (‘accept my thanks’) is the refrain throughout from one who ‘far from you’, torments himself.

Girls in and out of love

Winterweihe (Winter Consecration) is a Henckell setting, Op.48 No.4, composed in 1900. It is an intense and devout expression of love, its mood achieved by

repetition three times of a modulation a minor third higher until arriving at the key with which it began. Das Rosenband (The Rose Garland), a poem by Friedrich Klopstock (1724–1803), which Schubert set, was composed in 1897 – as Op.36 No.1 – with orchestral accompaniment, the piano version following later and omitting some of the detailed decoration. Cäcilie (Cecily) was composed in 1894 on the eve of Strauss’s wedding as No.2 of Op.27. The poem is by Heinrich Hart (1855–1906) and inspired in Strauss music as ardent and impulsive as his tone poem Don Juan. Curt Mündel (1852–1906) was the poet of Ach! Was Kummer, Qual und Schmerzen (Oh! What sorrows, anguish and pain), the eighth of the Op.49 set, composed in 1901. It is like a relaxed folk song, with a refrain of ‘Hm, hm, hm’ as the girl tells of her woes (not too seriously).

The three Ophelia songs from Op.67 of 1918 are set to Simrock’s translation of Shakespeare. They are among Strauss’s most difficult songs but he was a master of depicting degrees of madness, as we know from Don Quixote and Salome. In the first, Ophelia’s mind wanders aimlessly and wanly, in the second she is even more distracted and manic, and in the last, the longest, despite its diversions into waltz tempo and its richer content, the mood-swings are alarming. In all Strauss’s songs the piano part (no mere accompaniment) is on an equal footing with the voice. Not only is it always illustrative, but in several songs there is either a prologue or epilogue which in itself is a miniature tone-poem or commentary. Their difficulty, incidentally, is an indication of Strauss’s own ability as a pianist. In no song has the pianist so integral a part as in the famous and beloved Morgen! (Tomorrow!), the last of the four Op.27 wedding-gift songs for Pauline (the poem is by J. H. Mackay, 1864–1933). It is breathless rapture turned into music, one of the great songs of the world.

Michael Kennedy


“This is a captivating disc in which charm and sophistication are blended in equal measure. It’s one of the most enjoyable recital discs I’ve heard for a long time.” MusicWeb International; critical acclaim for Dame Felicity Lott’s disc, Call Me Flott.

" ... In sum, this is singing as it should be . . . A must for connoisseurs of the musical voice. "
MusicWeb International

“Lott is one of the giants of singing in our lifetime, we are fortunate to have her, and this CD is one of her many treasurable moments.”

Lynn René Bayley, Fanfare Magazine

"Dame Felicity Lott sings these 26 songs as well as one is likely to hear them. She has all the requirements—a gorgeous sound, elegant phrasing, and a total command of dynamics, including some ravishing pianissimo high notes. She has the ideal Strauss sound—a pure tone never marred by too much vibrato or breathiness. I enjoyed this immensely."
American Record Guide

   
   

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