Episode 58. Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder (Music for a World in Crisis IV)

Episode 58. Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder (Music for a World in Crisis IV)



As the worldwide pandemic renews its threat and creates general unrest, panic, anger, and depression, as well as illness and death for so many, we turn as always to music for solace. One of the central pieces that I have always turned to in times of personal turmoil has been Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder. Over the years I have listened to and derived comfort from dozens and dozens of recordings and live performances. In this episode, I feature eight different sopranos, (Elisabeth Söderström, Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Edda Moser, Soile Isokoski, Margaret Price, Teresa Żylis-Gara, Lucia Popp, and Sena Jurinac), each of whom makes her mark in a distinctive way on one of the four songs in the series. I also read each of the poems in my own English translation. These performances are supplemented by excerpts from Elektra, Daphne, and Die Ägyptische Helena performed by Rose Pauly, Hilde Güden, Christa Ludwig, and Walter Berry, as well as the world premiere 1985 performance of “Malven,” Strauss’s last completed work, sung by Kiri Te Kanawa; and the Oboe Concerto played by Léon Goossens in its first commercial recording from 1947.  Featured conductors in the episode include Claudio Abbado, Bernard Haitink, Zubin Mehta, Marek Janowski, Georg Solti, Karl Böhm, Heinrich Hollreiser, Fritz Busch, Alceo Galliera, and Milan Horvat. A bonus episode for my Patreon supporters will feature twelve more of my favorite sopranos, each one singing one of these autumnal Lieder. As we world citizens face the great unknown, these artists help lift our spirits and reorient our perspective.


All the musical selections featured on this episode are by Richard Strauss.

The classic Güden-Böhm live 1964 recording of Daphne

Mondlichtmusik and Final Vocalise (Daphne). Hilde Güden; Karl Böhm, Wiener Symphoniker [live Wien 1964]

Karl Böhm
Rose Pauly

Zweite Brautnacht (Die Ägyptische Helena). Rose Pauly; Fritz Busch, Orchester der Berliner Staatsoper [1928 studio recording]

Fritz Busch
Christa Ludwig and Walter Berry

Wer bist denn du? [excerpt from Recognition Scene] (Elektra). Christa Ludwig, Walter Berry; Heinrich Hollreiser, Orchester der Berliner Staatsoper

Heinrich Hollreiser
Kiri Te Kanawa

Malven. Kiri Te Kanawa; Martin Katz [world premiere performance: live New York, January 1985]

Martin Katz
Léon Goossens

Oboe Concerto (excerpts). Léon Goossens; Alceo Galliera, Philharmonia Orchestra [1947 studio recording]

Alceo Galliera

From the Vier letzte Lieder

Margaret Price

Frühling. Margaret Price; Claudio Abbado, Chicago Symphony Orchestra. [live Chicago 01 October 1981]

Claudio Abbado
Soile Isokoski

Frühling. Soile Isokoski; Marek Janowski, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin [2001 studio recording]

Marek Janowski
Teresa Żylis-Gara

September. Teresa Żylis-Gara; Zubin Mehta, Los Angeles Philharmonic [live Los Angeles November 1977]

Zubin Mehta
Elisabeth Söderström

September. Elisabeth Söderström; Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouw Orchestra [live Amsterdam 1977]

Bernard Haitink
Edda Moser

Beim Schlafengehen. Edda Moser; Milan Horvat, ORF Sinfonieorchester [live Wien 1 October 1974]

Milan Horvat
Lucia Popp

Beim Schlafengehen. Lucia Popp; Georg Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra [live Chicago October 1977]

Georg Solti
Anna Tomowa-Sintow

Im Abendrot. Anna Tomowa-Sintow; Karl Böhm, Staatskapelle Dresden [live Salzburg 11 July 1976]

Karl Böhm
Sena Jurinac

Im Abendrot. Sena Jurinac; Fritz Busch, Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra [live Stockholm 1951]

Fritz Busch

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