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Subject: vier letzte lieder
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 26 Feb 2018 05:34:39 +0000
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Couple of questions on Strauss's last songs:
- The work was premiered by Flagstad under Furtwangler's 
direction--Strauss had personally asked her to premiere the work, 
supposedly not because he felt her voice was right for the songs (he had 
not actually heard her since she performed Beethoven under his direction 
in the early 30's), but because he felt a kinship with her since they 
had both been vilified for their Nazi associations. Strauss died before 
the premiere; Flagstad sang the songs, although there was uncertainty 
over whether she would sing all four or omit Fruhling. In the end, she 
sang them all, although omitting the highest note (Elisabeth Schwarzkopf 
was presumably not around to provide the top note). The premiere was 
recorded, but in execrable sound; I know they have been remastered in 
recent years, and wonder whether anyone can comment on how they sound. I 
have also heard that some recordings billed as the premiere were 
actually later recordings (Flagstad kept the songs other than Fruhling 
in her repertoire); does anyone know whether the "premiere" recordings 
are actually from the premiere?
- The New York premiere was performed by Helen Lightner in a November 
1950 recital. I have seen other references to her--she apparently had a 
small but pleasant voice--and wondered whether anyone had heard her 
perform or knew much about her career. Also, does anyone know whether 
that was the American premiere as well?

I probably have more recordings of the Four Last Songs than of any other 
piece (perhaps challenged by Elektra)--I expect this is true of other 
listers as well.

Rich

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