R. Strauss Lieder
There seems something a shade contrary about the choice of repertory here. Strauss, according to his biographer Norman Del Mar, specifically requested that Op. 10 should be sung by a tenor and, even though sopranos have long since flouted his wishes, ‘Allerseelen’ (No. 8), with its male-orientated erotic charge, certainly seems better suited to a male singer. Compare Bonney in this piece with Fischer-Dieskau (on a six-disc set), for instance, and you hear how much more telling a more varied timbre, a closer alliance with the text can be. Still further back, Peter Anders, in the Raucheisen wartime Lied Edition, is even better, the great tenor singing rapturously off the words. By their side, Bonney sounds one-dimensional.
Then, when the Vier letzte Lieder so cry out for their orchestral clothing, I don’t see the point of singing them with a piano accompaniment by another hand. That said, Bonney makes out a good case for the latter choice with her subtly shaped, long-breathed, silver-toned reading, Martineau doing his level best to be an orchestra-substitute.
As for the songs in the middle of the recital, tracks 9 to 15 are ones Strauss himself orchestrated and which have perhaps become more familiar in that guise, three of them, ‘Wiegenlied’, ‘Das Rosenband’ and ‘Morgen!’ done definitively by Schafer recently on DG. Beside her, Bonney, for all the care she takes over her tone and phrasing, sounds – what shall I say? – a trifle contrived in her effects, a certain rhythmic and verbal lassitude occasionally creeping into her interpretations. If you think this is all nitpicking and love Bonney’s voice as such, as I of course do, you won’t worry about my caveats and odious comparisons, but enjoy the sincere purpose of these readings, all faithfully recorded.'