, March 2013
As a great fan of Jessye Norman’s first recording of Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs, I can say without impugnity that this brand new version is as fine, and can be seen as the anti-Norman at the same time…Soile Isokoski, with her infinitely brighter tone is accepting and loving, and her final song is the epitome of simple peace. Indeed, the four-song cycle clearly aims in that direction, but it is more often chock-filled with a sentimentality that, while not entirely unwelcome, in essence is unnecessary given the lushness of the music. Isokoski’s reserve is almost religious in the purest sense of the word—there’s faith written all over the four steps of the four songs. And needless to say, she has the technique to carry Strauss’ long lines upward and back downward with ease, and her sound is beautiful.
The other 11 songs on the CD are similarly well thought through and performed. Despite the many wonderful versions of the Four Last Songs (and many of the others) by singers as diverse and great as Norman, Schwarzkopf, and Janowitz, no lover of Strauss’ songs or of great, elegant, un-prima-donna-ish singing should be without Isokoski’s. © ClassicsToday.com Read complete review