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“This is the first volume in Hyperion's Richard Strauss edition, something to be devoutly hoped for: he was a great Lieder composer but only a small fraction of his 200-plus songs are at all well known. Admittedly, his taste in poetry wasn't always as elevated as that of his fellow composers, yet his music can transform rather ordinary verses. And the major poets do get a look-in. This disc includes two Heine settings, one of which, 'Frühlingsfeier', came a year after Salome and echoes the operatic score. This is where Christine Brewer, whose repertory includes the title-roles in Ariadne auf Naxos and Die ägyptischeHelena, might be expected to be most comfortable: her big, gleaming soprano sweeps through impressively. If at first her voice seems less than ideally flexible as a Lieder instrument, especially in the earlier songs, it would be ungrateful not to marvel at what she does ultimately bring to these performances. Opening with 'Zueignung', which Strauss never intended to be relegated to encore status, Brewer sounds glorious if a little staid. But she quickly lightens up, catching the palpitations of 'Wie sollten wir geheim sie halten' and the gem-like intimacy of 'Leises Lied'. She positively blazes in the sunlight-evoking 'In der Campagna', where Vignoles's piano captures the splash of a Straussian orchestra. Both artists bring something fresh to the chestnuts 'Allerseelen' and 'Wiegenlied', in which Brewer floats a beautiful line over the rippling accompaniment. Having the high tessitura demanded in the rarely heard Gesänge des Orients, she clinches any remaining argument magnificently.”
“Pianist and presiding spirit Roger Vignoles takes us on a select chronological jaunt, making sure Brewer boldly goes to the heart of the bigger numbers where lesser voices would fear to tread. Her glorious instrument, fine-tuned from top to bottom, effortlessly negotiates some of Strauss's more outlandish intervals.”
“There seems to be no challenge that Christine Brewer and Roger Vignoles can’t meet in these opulent songs. Brewer’s soaring voice offers a fabulous range of colour and dynamics, and Vignoles matches her with a truly orchestral palette at the keyboard”
“At all times Brewer and Vignoles work together hand in glove … This is a properly equal partnership that bodes very well indeed for this admirable project. Brewer and Vignoles set high standards for anyone who
would record Strauss now and for future collaborations on Hyperion too!”
“Christine Brewer in magisterial voice … a major project, beautifully performed and presented”
“Christine Brewer … combines opulent, blazing tone, fearless top notes and surprising agility”
“Could there be a more enticing title stamped across a CD than Strauss: The Complete Songs – 1? Richard Strauss the man may be widely resistible; but it would take someone extraordinarily hard-hearted not to take any delight in his luxuriant imagination and succulent harmonies … each planned CD in the series will be shaped around the talents of different singers, and Brewer’s disc marks a tremendous start”
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