GUEST REVIEW FROM INTERNATIONAL RECORD
Richard STRAUSS Lieder
Gundula Janowitz (soprano);
Ray Still (oboe); Dmitry Sitkovetsky (violin); Pavel Gililov (piano); Academy
of London/Richard Stamp.
Virgin Classics VBD5
61766-2 (super-budget price, two discs, 1 hour 52 minutes). From VC7
90794-2, VC7 90813-2, VC7 90760-2. Producers John West, Andrew Keener. Engineers
Simon Rhodes, Mike Hatch, John Kurlander, Mark Vigars. Date April 1988-November
1989, October 1988.
Ruhe, meine Seele Op. 27 No. 1; Morgen Op. 27
No. 4; Meinem Kinde Op. 37 No. 3; Befreit Op.
39 No. 4; Wiegenlied Op. 41 No. 1; Freundliche Vision
Op. 48 No. 1; Winterweihe Op. 48 No. 4;
Waldseligkeit Op. 49 No. 1; Die heiligen drei Könige
aus Morgenland Op. 56 No. 6. Metamorphosen AV142b.
Oboe Concerto in D AV144c. Violin Sonata in E flat
Those Straussians who do not already possess these recordings should acquire
them at once - they will not be disappointed! They contain extremely fine
performances of two of Strauss's greatest late works, unparalleled singing
of some of his most heartfelt songs, and a persuasive account of the early
Although Richard Stamp and the Academy of London may not be globally known
in the same way that other more famous Strauss performers are, their
interpretation of Metamorphosen is one of the finest on disc. Stamp guides
his virtuoso forces with great skill, striking an excellent balance between
emotion and restraint. The overwhelming intensity of Strauss's searing string
writing is fully realized, as is the intricately wrought architecture of
this elegiac masterpiece. The recorded acoustic may seem to some listeners
to be too reverberant, but the admirable production does strike an effective
balance between clarity and atmosphere.
Equally as good are the accompaniments that Stamp and his forces provide
for Ray Still and Gundula Janowitz. Still performs the Concerto with great
style, catching perfectly its unique blend of neo-Classicism, spry humour
and repressed nostalgia. Janowitz's singing cannot be faulted: again the
combination of restraint and emotion, when required, portray Strauss's numerous
visions perfectly. The slightly 'pressed' quality of Janowitz's voice in
certain high-lying passages enhances the intensity of her singing. Taken
altogether Stamp shows himself to be a very understanding conductor of some
of Strauss's most subtle compositions. More recordings from him would be
welcome. The clear sound achieved in both of these sets of performances is
The Violin Sonata, an early work lacking Strauss's full maturity, is a very
difficult piece to bring off. Sitkovetsky plays if for all it's worth and
more, making a most convincing case. He is very well partnered by Pavel Gililov,
who if anything offers even more bravado in his realization of the piano
part, giving the work a stature not fully deserved and rarely achieved.
Only the most basic documentation detracts from this excellent compilation.
This review will appear in the May issue of