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Renée Fleming - Strauss Heroines / Bonney, Graham, Eschenbach
Richard Strauss, Christoph Eschenbach, Renée Fleming
Renée Fleming - Strauss Heroines / Bonney, Graham, Eschenbach
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1

Why is Richard Strauss deemed by many the greatest of 20th-century opera composers? Whether you're a newcomer or a seasoned fan, this disc, with its scenes of often overwhelming beauty, illustrates some of the most salient...  more »


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All Artists: Richard Strauss, Christoph Eschenbach, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Wiener Philharmoniker, Walter Berry, Barbara Bonney, Johannes Chem
Title: Renée Fleming - Strauss Heroines / Bonney, Graham, Eschenbach
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Decca
Original Release Date: 1/1/1999
Re-Release Date: 9/14/1999
Genre: Classical
Style: Opera & Classical Vocal
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 028946631423

Synopsis essential recording
Why is Richard Strauss deemed by many the greatest of 20th-century opera composers? Whether you're a newcomer or a seasoned fan, this disc, with its scenes of often overwhelming beauty, illustrates some of the most salient reasons. Here you'll immediately encounter Strauss's command of a sumptuous musical vocabulary and unerring instinct for creating characters of psychological depth, not to mention librettos that stand out for their literary excellence. The composer's famous love of the female voice in particular--his wife had been a highly accomplished singer--inspired him to create his most memorable characters. As performed by Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, and Barbara Bonney, the Strauss heroines featured here acquire a life and human dimension reminiscent of Mozart's genius for operatic characterization. Fleming brings a characteristically sensuous intelligence to her Marschallin, composing a portrait at once strong-willed and eloquently vulnerable in her monologue from Act I of Rosenkavalier. The extremely broad tempo taken for the Trio allows you to glory in the emotional polyphony of these three distinctive voices as they weave together to melting, incandescent effect. Fleming continues at the top of her form with her Arabella and Countess, inflecting the long, soaring lines of Straussian melody with warmly shaded vocal coloring and an acute sensitivity to textual nuances. While clearly focusing the spotlight on these superb voices, Eschenbach massages a lushly detailed blend (if at times overromanticized and creamier than Strauss intended) from the Vienna Philharmonic. In the two excerpts from Capriccio, in which Strauss sums up a lifetime of writing for the stage, the result is breathtakingly luminous and the disc's most enrapturing sequence. On the evidence of her Countess here--which she has yet to sing on the stage--this seems destined to become one of the great Fleming roles. --Thomas May

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CD Reviews

Luscious meeting of singer and music
D. G. H. Haslett | Berlin | 12/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"OK, I have to admit that for me Fleming is the beautiful lyric soprano in the world today - not since the young Te Kanawa have I heard a more purely beautiful sound and she is much more attentive to the words than the New Zealand singer ever was. Strauss suits her supremely well. The disc is dominated by her Marschallin - a role which fits her like a glove. Vocally there are no problems for her - it's surprisingly straightforward from the technical viewpoint but great Marschallins have to discover the character in a sense beneath the notes. Recorded quite closely Fleming is beautifully understated. For all the huge orchestral forces she creates a real feeling of intimacy. The playing is full of beautiful detail but ultimately a little too langorous for my taste - some of the tempi are very slow indeed. Bonney and Graham are fully in the picture but this is Fleming's disc, proving once again that this lovely singer is entering her prime. I hope there are many glorious years ahead."
Cream that stops at that perfect point before clotting | Kampen, The Netherlands | 01/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Strauss has long been a passion and, as such, I was bitterly disappointed at Ms Fleming's rendition of the glorious Four Last Songs, one of my personal favourites. I found the singing too tame and calculated - Renee Fleming does Schwarzkopf. It was thus with a certain amount of trepidation that I approached this disc, only to have my proverbial socks knocked off. At the start of the Marchallin's famous monologue one is immediately struck by the broad tempo and the deceptive clarity Eschenbach musters from the incredible forces of the WPO. Fleming starts the scene rather routinely, but as it develops one is transported by the intensity, culminating in a glorious re-entry from Susan Graham's radiant Octavian. The achingly sad postlogue to the first act cannot but raise a lump in the throat of any true Strauss lover and, I wager, in most lovers of any kind of opera. This prepares the ground for the final scene from Act 3, which is truly unlike anything I have heard at all. The tempo is almost suicidally slow, but Eschenbach obviously knows what he can get out of his singers, because, with the added magic of Barbara Bonney's superlative Sophie, the scene bristles with intensity. The unsingably long vocal lines seem to flow from the performers like streams of the finest French Champagne. Even the infamous repeated top C's reveal no strain at all. The recital might have stopped here, with the haunting intensity of the two lovers' final duet and Fleming's masterfully resigned 'Ja, ja' haunting the listener for months to come. But no, they go onto equally great heights (I am afraid to say 'greater', as that seems impossible) with the Arabella duet. Having heard Ms Bonney live in Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam I could picture her in this scene, supporting the glorious Arabella of Fleming with those once again impossible floating top notes. It is a marvel in recording history. The Capriccio finale is perhaps the perfect closing to this disc. Fleming has a chance to 'run the gamut A to Zee' in one of Strauss's most diversely challenging scenes and she does it in great style. It is wonderful to hear a great Strauss singer still in her prime - may we have all these operas complete, hopefully with as excellent a supporting cast. The three ladies recently had a triumph in Paris with Rosenkavalier and I can only turn deep shades of green that I was not there to experience it."
Absolutely extraordinary singing | 09/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have long enjoyed Renee Fleming's performances, and this CD is no exception. Some may carp that she is too young for the Marschallin, but she makes a strong point that the Marschallin was 35. Although one would think age would help in the interpretation of the Marschallin's deep and profound thoughts, Fleming connects with the underlying emotions of the piece and makes a musical statement that is truly remarkable. Her singing on the Arabella and Capriccio selections are no less well-sung and thought out, and she is partnered by two other lovely singers, Susan Graham and Barbara Bonney. I have all of Fleming's other CDs and have one question: Is there anything this woman can't sing, and sing well?! From Tchaikovsky to Mozart, from dramatic to coloratura, from a rich chest register to an effortless high E flat (and beyond on her Mozart CD) -- the woman has the most perfect technique. Listen to everything you can from this amazing artist."