Although this second issue of Hyperion's complete Strauss song cycle has taken some time in coming, it is surely most welcome, not only from a musical viewpoint but more as a reassuring factor that the cycle will in fact be completed when the time is ripe.
This collection is a wonderful mixture of very rare pieces and well known works but the whole recipe is so full of delights that one is truly hard pressed to select a favourite. In my view, "O warst du mein" (track 7) is among the most impassioned and dramatic of the lot while "Weiser Jasmin" and "Wiegenliedchen" (tracks 13 and 17 respectively) reveal the composer's lighter side.
The disc also contains two Alsatian folksongs and the riveting "Blindenklage" for good measure. The expert Strauss soprano Anne Schwanewilms demonstrates not only her uncanny understanding of these charming yet sublime gems, but also her dramatic and vocal gifts. The reproduction of George Clairun's "Ophelia in the Thistles" on the front cover of the disc's booklet is particularly evocative.
Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech