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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67488
Recording details: March 2004
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: May 2005
Total duration: 14 minutes 46 seconds

'Christine Brewer … combine opulent, blazing tone, fearless top notes and surprising agility' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Christine Brewer in magisterial voice … a major project, beautifully performed and presented' (The Independent)

'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!' (International Record Review)

'Hyperion is following its massive surveys of Schubert and Schumman by kicking off a retrospective of Strauss's complete lieder with a recital by Christine Brewer and pianist Roger Vignoles. If this is anything to go by, the series should be at once scholarly and thrilling' (The Guardian)

'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' (The Times)

'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' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Christine Brewer is a fine choice for this first disc in what is expected to be a total of eight or nine CDs … one is already impatient for the arrival of Volume 2. Full texts with translations are given, of course, and concise but informative notes from Vignoles. This recital is a gift not to be missed' (Fanfare, USA)

'Hyperion's encylopaedic collection of Schubert songs was one of the great recording projects of the Nineties. Now the beleaguered company hopes to do the same for Richard Strauss … The series launches in style with the soprano Christine Brewer, accompanied by Roger Vignoles, whose booklet notes are as perceptive and stylishly executed as his piano playing' (The Evening Standard)

'The CD, itself as masterfully composed as the songs on it, begins, appropriately, with 'Zueignung' and ends, touchingly but without sentimentality, with the last song from that same Op. 10, 'Allerseelen' … Brewer is blessed with what legendary record producer Walter Legge called the sine qua non of the great singer; a distinctive, immediately identifiable sound. Her remarkably supple voice, Rubenesque in size and voluptuosness, has just enough acid to allow her to etch each song with highly detailed word painting and her personal stamp … the insight Brewer brings to the less familiar songs brings deep satisfactions' (Bay Area Reporter, USA)

Gesänge des Orients, Op 77
composer
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Between 1906 and 1918 there was a hiatus in Strauss’s song composition, but these years were otherwise highly productive of vocal music. Partly occasioned by a lengthy wrangle over copyright with the publishers Bote & Bock, the break coincided with his most important period of operatic composition, during which Elektra, Der Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Frau ohne Schatten all appeared. Most of his later songs reflect the development of his style, especially in the complexity of accompanying textures and the extension of his harmonic language.

The Gesänge des Orients were composed in 1928, shortly after Die Aegyptische Helena, and are settings of adaptations from the Persian and the Chinese by Hans Bethge, whose anthology Die chinesische Flöte had already inspired Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. The change in style from Strauss’s earlier songs is marked, with a generally more ascetic palette of colour and a quasi-oriental application of ornament, especially in the first and fourth songs, each of which contemplates an aspect of the beloved. All five songs are vertiginously high, and originally intended for tenor, though interestingly dedicated to Strauss’s beloved Elisabeth Schumann and her conductor–husband Karl Alwin.

from notes by Roger Vignoles © 2005

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