Search - Renée Fleming, Strauss, Mnpo :: Four Last Songs

Four Last Songs
Renée Fleming, Strauss, Mnpo
Four Last Songs
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #2

This is the special, deluxe edition! In addition to the Strauss program, a second disc which highlights Fleming's signature roles at the Metropolitan Opera is included. These extended scenes are drawn from her highly-regar...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Renée Fleming, Strauss, Mnpo, Thielemann
Title: Four Last Songs
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Decca
Original Release Date: 1/1/2008
Re-Release Date: 9/16/2008
Album Type: Deluxe Edition, Extra tracks
Genres: Pop, Classical
Styles: Vocal Pop, Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 028948013203


Album Description
This is the special, deluxe edition! In addition to the Strauss program, a second disc which highlights Fleming's signature roles at the Metropolitan Opera is included. These extended scenes are drawn from her highly-regarded Decca discography. Renée Fleming, the world's preeminent lyric soprano, is joined by Christian Thielemann, internationally acclaimed for his performances of Strauss works, for this recording of the exquisitely beautiful Four Last Songs. These enduringly popular works have become signature pieces for the soprano and she was delighted for the opportunity to work with the gifted Thielemann. In addition, Fleming performs a selection of lieder with orchestra as well as arias from Ariadne auf Naxos and Die ägyptische Helena.. On September 22, Fleming will open the Met Opera Season with a Gala featuring her in her most acclaimed roles. This one-night-only performance will be broadcast live in HD to movie theaters throughout the US.

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CD Reviews

'Habe dank!'
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This very generous two disc release has so many positive aspects that it hopefully will manage to garner the attention of music lovers around the world despite the negative comments being published in some quarters. Fame of an artist is accompanied by that very public eye and ear that references previous performances and recordings of repeated works as being superior to a new issue, and while that may gather the ire of some, it is simply part of the joy of encountering new performances: some boo, some shout Brava! Renée Fleming is a bona fide star of the opera and concert stage, a physically beautiful woman with a soaring, rich, intelligent voice who manages to inhabit a number of roles that she makes her own - be those her signature Strauss roles or her favorite 'Rusalka' and 'Thaïs'.

For the opening songs on this 2008 live recording from Munich in collaboration with the superb Strauss conductor Christian Thielemann at the helm of the Munich Philharmonic Fleming offers the Strauss 'Four Last Songs'. Yes, they are different from her 1995 recording but thirteen years have passed and for this listener the depth of character in the poetry of these gorgeous songs is finer and the voice remains one of the few truly Straussian soprano voices before the public today. Plus, after the 'Four Last Songs' we are gifted with three excerpts form 'Ariadne auf Naxos' and these are impeccably performed as are the four songs that follow and the 'Zweite Brautnacht!' from Strauss' 'Die Ägyptische Helena' that conclude the 'concert'. Fleming and Thielemann are as superb a team for Strauss as one could imagine.

The second CD on the package is called 'Signature Roles at the Met Opera' and these include Tchaikovsky's 'Letter Scene' form 'Eugen Onegin, Dvorak's 'O Silver moon' aria from 'Rusalka', and Verdi's 'Willow song/Ave Maria' from 'Otello' - with Fleming accompanied by Sir Georg Solti and the London Symphony Orchestra; 'Ah! Je suis seule...' from Massenet's 'Thaïs' with Yves Abel conducting the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitane; and the 'Mondscheinmusik' from Strauss' 'Capriccio' joined by Walter Berry and with Christoph Eschenbach and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. This is Fleming's realm and to have each of these special interpretations on one recording is a gift. Renée Fleming is an extraordinary artist, a true diva, and this collection is a rich one. 'Habe dank!' Highly recommended. Grady Harp, September 08"
An interpretation for today by a voice in prime condition
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 09/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Many people will be surprised by the negativity of the comments by bert1761, the first and previous reviewer of this disc. First, let me say that I deplore the practice of some Amazon readers who give another reviewer a negative vote simply because they do not agree with the opinion expressed. I think "bert" writes honestly, more in sorrow than in anger, and that his is a thoughtful, intelligent, sincerely held opinion that deserves careful consideration. I know what he means by the overt expressiveness of Fleming's interpretation but I do not agree that it is obtrusive or excessive. The voice is in wonderful condition and she is able to sustain the line with apparently effortless ease - except when she clearly chooses to disrupt it deliberately for emotive effect. The lower register is rich and characterful - you can hear its development just from the resonance of Renee's speaking voice in the publicity interviews on this website - and the top soars as creamily and amply as ever; I hear no strain anywhere. Her German is of course impeccable and her breath control a thing of wonder. I, too, am a great fan of Janowitz's and Te Kanawa's (earlier version with Davis) more restrained, classical interpretations, but Fleming's "Im Abendrot", for example, still works its magic for me. She is perhaps delivering here on record more of what you might hear in a live performance (indeed, I believe these are live takes - although you'd never know), when your communicative gestures can be more emphatic than in a recording - but slightly idiosyncratic instances of vocal colouring and verbal inflection can, on repeated listenings, become a little quirky and irritating. Nonetheless, this is an immediate, heartfelt interpretation of these inexhaustibly moving songs and very much a performance for the modern listener who needs and expects more individuality to distinguish one version from another. Furthermore, the recorded sound is technically marvellous; I have never heard so much detail in the orchestration of these songs.

The subsequent Strauss arias and songs are a glorious addition to her discography; Fleming was born to sing this composer - and just as she would opt to sing Strauss over any other composer for the voice, I would choose Fleming to interpret him. I cannot hear any inadequacy in her lower register in the first extended "Ariadne" excerpt and I rank this disc with her earlier selection of Strauss "bon-bons" with Susan Graham and Barbara Bonney. The bonus arias on the second disc in the Deluxe Edition are testament to her versatility and supremacy in other composers, especially Tchaikovsky's Tatyana.

So I respectfully beg to differ from the previous reviewer's judgement - but would fiercely defend and welcome his right to express it, prompting, as it does, civilised debate."
Sempre meglio
M. Magie | Seattle | 09/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This set of glorious performances by Renee Fleming, both the older ones included on the bonus disk and the new ones, especially the new versions of Strauss's Vier Letzte Lieder, seem to me so fine as to be nearly beyond praise. Listening to them, especially after reading some of the more critical comments here, has taken me back some 50 years to when I was a young lad in LA diving into the world of great singing, all on LPs then. There was much discussion in those days about Renata Tebaldi and Maria Callas -- in fact, there was a debate, and sometimes a bitter one, about whether Tebaldi was better than Callas, or Callas better than Tebaldi. (A similar debate was going on over the different sorts of violin playing offered by Francescatti and Heifetz.) This debate struck me then, and strikes me still, as an utterly absurd and foolish argument. It is not a question of "better". It was, it is, a matter of what seem to me two diverse modes of beauty, both supremely fine. Tebaldi's singing was lusher, more lyrical; Callas's was more dramatic, more intense. And they were both singing gloriously. You had both of them available to you. You didn't have to choose between, so why would you? You just had to learn to be open to the beauty in both. And if you arrived at cherishing both, wouldn't you just have loved to hear a singer who could somehow combine features of both modes?

That is just what Renee Fleming has so generously offered us in recent years. She began more in the Tebaldi mode, as Szolti recognized, and in that mode issued her early performance of the Strauss songs as well as a number of other disks. Then over the last decade or so she has gradually instilled a greater dramatic intensity into her singing. And she has done so without losing or marring any of the beauty of her voice. It is still as lush and rich, as lyrical, still as astounding in range and timbre and control as it ever was, but now in miraculous combination has also a new and powerful dramatic intensity. When I listened to this latest performance of the Letzte Lieder, I felt that no performance of them that I had ever heard before was more beautiful, more intense, more moving. This performance by Fleming seems to me to reside -- with some others I also wouldn't want to lose -- quite at the top. There's no "better" among the best.

A few times I sensed a resemblance to, or slight echo of Schwarzkopf; once or twice I found myself remembering Janet Baker's renderings of Mahler or Schubert songs, for their dramatic intensity. But these were just awestruck sideglances into quite different musical worlds. Fleming is always herself, always recognizable and memorable, and incomparably fine. And now she has by some miracle become even finer than before. I still listen to her earlier versions of these songs and treasure them. But now my world seems richer and finer because I also have these incomparable new performances. The kind of intensity she now brings to them makes them something beyond beautiful, makes them so powerful and moving that I have to guard against the impulse to play them over and over without stop. She creates so compelling a world of experience that I don't want to leave it -- would like to dwell there perpetually. The sensible person in me says "don't wear them out". Hard to resist, though.

I'd like to end by expressing my gratitude to Renee Fleming. It seems to me to have taken considerable courage to alter an already highly successful mode of performance. There were risks. And something mysterious was involved as well, something more than the intelligence and diligence with which she is clearly amply gifted. Some other gift. I won't try to name it. But she has now passed its gleanings to us, and I for one am deeply grateful. Thank you, Renee. All honor to you."