iTunes Download of the Week
Bringing you the best of 2012!
by Wade Davis
Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano
Walter Giesking, piano
(London Symphony Orchestra, George Szell; with Alfred Brendel)
Did you ever wonder what Mozart’s Countess sang around the house? When she wasn’t sighing and pining in ‘Porgi amor’ and ‘Dove sono,’ you better believe she was living it up at her weekly music lessons, or with her personal fortepianist in her salon performing for friends after tea!
At least that’s what Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, one of the most formidable Countesses of all time to some, who also taught and mentored one of the most beautiful Countesses of modern times, Renee Fleming, makes you think with her album of Mozart’s Lieder.
The original album release features sixteen tracks recorded in 1955 when the voice was at its peak, as many would say who heard the soprano in her later years. (The concert arias are added later from a 1968 recording for an EMI References Series and there, the voice is caught at at different, more authoritative moment.)
Witness the pure joy in singing favorites such as ‘Ridente la calma’ K152, and ‘An Chloe’ K 524. To my ear ‘Dans un bois solitaire’ and ‘Die Alte’ are charming examples of “play- acting” in which a rather infamous French Queen reveled! Special mention must be made of the meltingly beautiful account of ‘Abendempfindung de Laura’ K 523. A particularly ravishing version was done in concert by MeeAe Nam at the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin Conservatory which actually brought me back to this very recording.
It seems at every turn, one can delight in the beautifully mannered singing of Dame Schwarzkopf. How fortunate for us that one of the most revered Countesses of her time was also the foremost interpreter of Lieder and art song as well! Perhaps it was Elisabeth’s deep understanding of that woman that led to the soulful renditions here. Ask her when you get to heaven. But you’ll probably have to wait because she’ll be having tea with Mozart!
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