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Hyperion Records

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A Summer Night (1890) by Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893)
© Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67844
Recording details: January 2012
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: November 2012
Total duration: 4 minutes 33 seconds

'Vignoles plays the often extended introductions and postludes … quite magically, to say nothing of the extended interludes … my pleasure in this latest volume is without any reservations. Elizabeth Watts sings gloriously, rising fluently to the high tessitura of Strauss's melodic lines (immediately obvious in the first few songs included in the recital). Her beautiful voice, sensitive phrasing and response to word-meanings are consistently rewarding and her partnership with Roger Vignoles could hardly be more beautifully balanced' (Gramophone)

'Watts takes flight in this repertoire, her warm, generous soprano broadening into a luscious, creamy-toned wonder. Tonal glamour? You bet' (The Guardian)

'Watts has the full measure of the drama … she reveals herself as an accomplished Straussian throughout this recital and nowhere more so than in the very last song that the composer wrote, Malven, written for soprano Maria Jeritza in 1948 after he had finished the Vier letzte Lieder. A gift from one great artist to another and a fitting end to this admirable recording' (International Record Review)

Blick vom oberen Belvedere, Op 88 No 2
First line:
Fülle du! Gezier- und schöner Geist
1942; composed in honour of Josef Weinheber's 50th birthday
author of text

Introduction  EnglishDeutsch
When Boosey & Hawkes compiled the Complete Edition in 1964, they included Das Bächlein as the first of a group of three songs Opus 88. The other two were settings of the Austrian poet Josef Weinheber, composed in honour of his fiftieth birthday in March 1942. By that time Strauss and his family had left their home in Garmisch, its Nazi connections having become too close for comfort, and were living at the Belvedere Villa in Vienna. This was almost next door to the baroque palaces known as the Unteres and Oberes Belvedere, with their beautifully laid out grounds commanding an extensive view of the city. Hence no doubt the attraction of this particular poem, inspired by a painting of 1895 by the Viennese artist Carl Moll.

The somewhat artificial text suits the formal, strait-laced aspects of the scene, with its pannier-skirted ladies and their elegant cavaliers. Strauss’s setting moves at a stately tempo, its decorative rococo not unlike the filigree of the Gesänge des Orients Op 77 (see CDA67488). Rooted in an aristocratic E major and C sharp minor, the occasional harmonic shifts act as pictorial colour. Meanwhile the widestepping vocal line, frequently anticipated first in the piano part, evokes both the expansive view and the exalted feelings it inspires, its collage of melodic gestures adding up as much to a mood-piece as to a conventional song.

Interestingly, Weinheber’s poem turns out to be an acrostic on the name of Marie Grengg—each line begins with one of the letters of her name—who provided illustrations for the volume in which the poem was first published. Entitled Wien wörtlich (‘Vienna in words’), this was a collection of poems about Vienna and Viennese life. Strauss was presumably aware of the hidden riddle, and in his excellent biography Norman Del Mar suggests that the composer may have added a cryptic reference of his own: at the words ‘Gehn nicht die Terrassen ab und an’ the vocal line recalls a lively Croatian folk-tune from Mandryka’s aria in Arabella, in which the singer recounts his visit to Vienna.

from notes by Roger Vignoles © 2012

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