Two contrasting Richard Strauss masterpieces - his thrilling autobiographical tone poem A Hero’s Life and his rapturous Four Last Songs, unforgettably sung by the internationally acclaimed soprano Dorothea Roschmann. Premiere BIS album from conductor Yannick Nezet-Suguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
n a very short time, Yannick Nézet-Séguin has become one of the most sought-after young conductors in the world, popular with orchestras and audiences alike. Recently named as Music Director Designate of the Philadelphia Orchestra, he succeeded Valery Gergiev as Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008. He is also Chief Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
On this the second of four projected discs for BIS, the Rotterdam Philharmonic here perform two of Richard Strauss’ most popular works: The tone poem Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life) has often been described as an autobiographical work. The six interwoven sections describe themes of hope, love and courage, with a scherzo that mocks the hero’s enemies and a final climax that sees the hero withdraw from the world fulfilled.
The Four Last Songs were the last works that Strauss composed before his death in 1949, and throughout the works, the pervading mood is one of death and transience. The Rotterdam Orchestra are here joined by Dorothea Röschmann, who has built a reputation on the opera stage as one of the most admired present interpreters of Mozart and of lieder.
“the gossamer textures of the Hero's 'War and Peace'...work best here, the bassoon stylishly leading the superb Rotterdam woodwind. The final retirement is gilded by a glorious horn solo...[Roschmann's] fast vibrato is offset by luminosity and soaring beauty...there's always understanding of the text, and the sunset epilogue, well accompanied by the orchestra, is moving.” - BBC Music Magazine
“Nézet-Séguin's portrait of the "Hero's adversaries" is piquant rather than ironically adversarial...[Four Last Songs are] gloriously sung by Dorothea Roschmann, who has a truly lovely voice, and is most sensitively accompanied...Even among many illustrious names, there is no finer recorded performance.” - Gramophone Magazine