Diana Damrau

Poesie: Richard Strauss Lieder

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In her fourth solo recital on Virgin Classics, German coloratura Diana Damrau turns to Richard Strauss' orchestral songs, featuring a generous selection that includes about half of his output for voice and orchestra. Damrau's extensive experience as an interpreter of the composer's operas is evident in this exceptionally attractive album. That deep familiarity combined with an impeccable technique; the warm, velvety sheen of her voice; and the nuance, insight, and personality of her interpretations make her an outstanding Strauss singer, one who may well join the ranks of the most distinguished. The various demands of the songs recorded here demonstrate the extent of Damrau's versatility. She commands the expansive lyricism and the ability to sustain soaring legato lines that make her ideal for the ecstatic serenity of songs like "Heimkehr," Waldseligkeit," and "An die Nacht." Her coloratura background makes her equally at ease in the florid virtuosity required for songs like "Amor" and "Ich wollt ein Sträusslein binden." Only in "Allerseelen" (which was orchestrated not by Strauss but Robert Heger) does she sound like she is straining against the orchestra. The recital includes all six songs of the Brentano-Lieder, infrequently performed as a set because they are so varied in their demands on the singer, but Damrau handles them with absolute assurance. The vocal intensity and the emotional depth and range she brings to the final song, "Lied der Frauen," make it especially impressive, bringing the album to a cathartic close. The many satisfactions of the album make the listener eager to hear Damrau in the Four Last Songs, in which she ought to be spectacular. It's gratifying to have such distinguished accompaniment provided by the Münchner Philharmoniker led by Christian Thielemann; the conductor and orchestra sound like they have this music in their blood and are in every way a worthy match for Damrau. The sound is clean, well defined, and nicely present.

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