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Richard STRAUSS (1864–1949)
14 Lieder
1. Die Nacht, Op. 10 No 3 [2:51]
2. Meinem Kinde, Op. 37 No. 3 [2:09]
3. Heimliche Aufforderung, Op. 27 No. 3 [3:53]
4. Frühlingsgedränge, Op. 26 No. 1 [2:18]
5. Ich liebe dich, Op. 37 No. 2 [2:05]
6. Ruhe, meine Seele, Op. 27 No. 1 [3:22]
7. Befreit, Op. 39 No. 4 [5:31]
8. O wärst du mein’, Op. 26 No. 2 [2:46]
9. Nichts, Op. 10 No. 2 [1:25]
10. Schlechtes Wetter, Op. 69 No. 5 [2:13]
11. Allerseelen, Op. 10 No. 8 [3:04]
12. Morgen! Op. 27 No. 4 [3:31]
13. Zueignung, Op. 10 No. 1 [1:55]
14. Cäcilie, Op. 27 No. 2 [2:20]
Sophie Koch (mezzo)
Philippe Entremont (piano)
rec. Église St. Marcel, Paris, October 2006
German texts enclosed
CASCAVELLE VEL3117 [40:19]


Experience Classicsonline

Less than two years ago I reviewed a disc on the same label with Sophie Koch singing Schumann’s Myrten. I wrote then that she ‘has a large, vibrant voice with a lot of inherent warmth. It wouldn’t surprise me if within the next few years she gradually moves over to heavier parts than the mainly lyrical ones on her current repertoire …’ There is little to add to that description, other than that she has obviously developed even more thrust, robustness even. Once or twice this tempts her to lunge for power and, without going over the top, she widens the vibrato yet further; the effect can be slightly acidulous. It is for the most part a healthy acidity – not the kind that makes you call the waiter and ask for a different bottle. In Strauss a strong vibrant voice can be an asset and so it is in this case, since, as I also wrote in the Schumann review: ‘…she can scale down the voice to very intimate dimensions without any loss in quality’.

What struck me over and over again during the recital was the well judged phrasing and the intelligence of her readings. The first two songs felt a bit anonymous even so but in Heimliche Aufforderung she blossoms out into some glorious full-throated singing while at the same time bringing out all the textual nuances. This is splendid Strauss singing by all standards. Ruhe, meine Seele is restrained but with retained intensity and she delivers a deeply felt Befreit. In Nichts her legato singing is admirable and two of my personal favourites, Allerseelen and Morgen! are so sensitively and beautifully sung. Her vibrancy may be a problem to some listeners and the concluding Cäcilie is a little too much of a good thing. On the other hand her reading of Zueignung is grandly impressive.

It was with great anticipation I saw the name Philippe Entremont as accompanist. Now in his mid-70s, he regularly recorded for Concert Hall record club in the early 1960s when I was starting to build a record collection. I remember a good Moonlight Sonata, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and two Mozart concertos with his father as conductor. In later years he has himself appeared as conductor on record. Whether he has regularly been an accompanist I don’t know. I can only recall a CBS LP with songs by Satie and Ravel with Régine Crespin: He was a sensitive accompanist then and here he is almost sensationally good. Pleasant acoustics, a splendid piano and Entremont’s delicate touch combine to make this one of the best Strauss recitals I have ever heard. He is obviously a good listener and the sonorities he produces are stunning; and there is no lack of power and intensity when required. One can pick any song to admire his playing, none more so than Schlechtes Wetter with its illustrative piano part finding Strauss in Hugo Wolf – and Viennese waltz – mood.

Two grumbles: the playing time is uncommonly meagre at just over 40 minutes. Also there are no translations of the song texts. Not all listeners are fluent in German. Still: with accompaniments of such mastery this is a disc to treasure.

Göran Forsling



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