STRAUSS Lieder – Norman
Jessye Norman has made many excellent records, but perhaps none so wholly recommendable as this one. Her generous heart, dignified manner and noble voice seem ideally suited to Strauss's valedictory utterances, and when she made this record in June of last year she seems to have been in wonderful voice, the top soaring up to the heights more freely than has sometimes been the case of late. Her breath seems almost endless at times, her tone refulgent and full so that I doubt if the
The whole of the final section of ''September'', fully sung yet perfectly controlled, the added intensity at the key phrase ''Und die Seele unbewacht'' in ''Beim Schlafengehen'' with the high A flat positively radiant, and the still resignation of ''so tief im Abendrot'' in the last song are just some of the memorable moments that I am still savouring. Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus provide appropriately refined, almost translucent support for the singer. My only worry is that the orchestra sometimes has that no-man's-land feeling of some digital recordings. I withdraw none of my admiration for the merits of the earlier records listed above, but for once I would give the new version a confident nod as the one to have.
Norman's backing is comparable with Te Kanawa's: the records share three of the orchestral settings of Strauss's songs. Once more the tempos are all slower on the new disc.