Richard Strauss came of age as a song composer in his late teens with his lushly upholstered Op. 10 set, to poems by the obscure nineteenth-century versifier, Hermann von Gilm. In 1887 he started to give lessons to a promising young soprano, Pauline de Ahna, daughter of a retired general (and woe betide anyone who forgot it). The pair were married in 1894; and many of his songs from Op. 21 onwards were intended for Pauline, not least the glorious Op. 27 set, Strauss’s wedding gift to his new bride. For a decade from the mid-1890s they gave acclaimed recital tours in Europe and the United States. He wrote in his Memoirs: ‘She sang my songs with an expression and a poetry such as I have never heard since.’
This Strauss Lieder recital brings together songs by two acclaimed singers – Gérard Souzay and Hilde Gueden. Souzay’s mellow beauty of tone and evenness of line are eloquently displayed in his 1964 recording of seventeen Strauss Lieder.
With her silvery timbre and precious Straussian gift of softly floated phrases, Gueden was for many an ideal Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier) and Zdenka (in Arabella), while she virtually owned the formidably taxing title role of Strauss’s Daphne. What the doyen of British voice critics John Steane called Gueden’s ‘youthful shining sound’ can be heard in the songs on this disc recorded in the late 1950s, when her voice was in its prime.
“Baldwin’s luminous playing…” Gramophone (Souzay)
“Gueden is intelligent, as always” Gramophone (Gueden)