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Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
The Complete Songs - Volume 3
Andrew Kennedy (tenor)/Roger Vignoles (piano)
rec. 24-26 July 2007, All Saints Church, East Finchley, London. DDD
German texts and English translations included

Experience Classicsonline

Acht Lieder aus Letzte Blätter, Op 10 (1885)
No. 2: Nichts 'Nennen soll ich, sagt ihr, meine' [1:33]
No. 7: Die Zeitlose 'Auf frisch gemähtem Weideplatz' [1:39]
No. 6: Die Verschwiegenen 'Ich habe wohl, es sei hier laut' [1:10]
Sechs Lieder, Op 17 (1885-1888)
No. 1: Seit dem dein Aug' in meines schaute [1:56]
No. 2: Ständchen 'Mach auf, mach auf! doch leise, mein Kind' [2:30]
No. 3: Das Geheimnis 'Du fragst mich, Mädchen, was flüsternd der West' [2:13]
No. 4: Aus den Liedern der Trauer 'Von dunklem Schleier umsponnen' [1:54]
No. 5: Nur Mut! 'Laß das Zagen, trage mutig' [3:21]
No. 6: Barkarole 'Um der fallenden Ruder Spitzen' [2:28]
Sechs Lieder aus Lotusblättern, Op 19 (1888)
No. 1: Wozu noch, Mädchen, soll es frommen [1:57]
No. 3: Schön sind, doch kalt die Himmelssterne [2:17]
No. 5: Hoffen und wieder verzagen [2:53]
Schlichte Weisen, Op 21 (1889)
No. 4: Ach weh mir unglückhaftem Mann [2:13]
No. 5: Die Frauen sind oft fromm und still [2:37]
Vier Lieder, Op 27 (1894)
No. 3: Heimliche Aufforderung 'Auf, hebe die funkelnde Schale' [3:17]
Fünf Lieder, Op 32 (1896)
No. 1: Ich trage meine Minne [2:15]
No. 2: Sehnsucht 'Ich ging den Weg entlang, der einsam lag' [3:25]
No. 3: Liebeshymnus 'Heil jenem Tag, der dich geboren' [2:24]
No. 4: O süßer Mai! [1:35]
No. 5: Himmelsboten 'Der Mondschein, der ist schon verblichen' [3:28]
Vier Lieder, Op 36 (1897)
No. 2: Für funfzehn Pfennige 'Das Mägdlein will ein' Freier haben' [2:22]
No. 4: Anbetung 'Die Liebste steht mir vor den Gedanken, wie schön, o wie schön!' [4:43]
Fünf Lieder, Op 48 (1900)
No. 4: Winterweihe 'In diesen Wintertagen' [2:36]
No. 5: Winterliebe 'Der Sonne entgegen' [1:48]
No. 1: Freundliche Vision 'Nicht im Schlafe hab ich das geträumt' [2:38]

The first two recitals in this series have been entrusted to sopranos. The first volume featured Christine Brewer (see review) and after her we heard Anne Schwanewilms (see review). This third release is also given to a high voice but this time itís a tenor. Hitherto Iíd been accustomed to hearing Andrew Kennedy mainly in English repertoire so I was most interested to audition him in lieder.

Roger Vignoles, who is masterminding this Strauss project, has once again assembled the programme shrewdly. This shrewdness operates in a number of ways: not only does he choose songs which suit his singer but also he has mixed less familiar items with a decent leavening of favourites.

One such, of course, is Ständchen, which crops up frequently in recitals but as Vignoles observes in his excellent notes, many recital programmes "relegate [Strauss] to the status of dessert Ė the Sachertorte and Schlag, so to speak Ė designed to send the audience home replete and happy." By placing Ständchen in its proper context within the six songs that comprise Op. 17, Kennedy and Vignoles avoid that trap and we appreciate the familiar bon bon all the more. Mind you, its not hard to see how that song has achieved its popular status with its delectable rippling piano part, winningly played by Vignoles, and the lovely vocal line, which Kennedy delivers in a light, eager fashion thatís most appealing. But its companions are well worth hearing also. I particularly enjoyed Nur Mut! which is a fine, Brahmsian song that Kennedy sings with an intelligent combination of strength and sensitivity. No less interesting is Barkarole, which is distinguished by what Vignoles rightly terms " a mood of rapt enchantment." Itís a lovely song, deserving of a wider audience, and it finds a worthy champion in Andrew Kennedy.

Another famous song is Heimliche Aufforderung. This is an often-ardent song. Kennedy rises to the challenges it poses and his ringing tone at the end is especially noteworthy. Just as notable is the surging accompaniment provided by Vignoles. But a little earlier in the programme another, less well-known offering that caught my ear was Wozu noch, Mädchen, soll es frommen. This is a lovely, lyrical song that sounds like Schubert six decades on.

The Op 32 set is dedicated to Pauline Strauss, like so many other songs by her husband. Ich trage meine Minne suits Andrew Kennedyís voice well. He delivers its gentle passages very nicely but he has sufficient vocal heft to do justice to the more passionate music in the second stanza. Sehnsucht is a strange, rather unquiet song, especially itís bare opening. The music has something of an experimental feel to it, especially in the piano writing. By contrast the well-known Liebeshymnus is much more outgoing. Indeed itís almost operatic in scale, with a demanding tessitura. I like the expressive way in which Kennedy sings it and I also appreciated the power he brings to the third stanza.

Another expansive song is Anbetung, which Vignoles describes as "Wagnerian in scale". Andrew Kennedy encompasses successfully its varied and significant demands. Operating in a more reflective vein, I enjoyed very much his winning reading of Winterweihe. Itís a gorgeous song and itís a delight to hear it as well done as it is here. Equally gorgeous is Freundliche Vision. The warm long phrases receive full value here and Kennedy and Vignoles make it a wonderfully easeful end to their programme.

This Hyperion Strauss series is fast becoming an important one for connoisseurs of lieder and this latest volume is another worthy addition to it. Andrew Kennedy does very well in some taxing repertoire and his open, ringing tones, to say nothing of the more gentle lyrical side of his singing, give great pleasure. Just as delightful is the pianism of Roger Vignoles who makes a predictably excellent and perceptive contribution to every song, supporting and complementing his singer at every turn. His notes are excellent too. He may not write at the same length as his colleague Graham Johnson but his comments are full of perception and insight and, just as much as his playing, they bespeak an intimate knowledge of and love for the songs in question.

Excellent, clear sound sets the seal on another very successful issue in this fine series.

John Quinn


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