, March 2012
This delightful disc is a treat for lovers of Strauss, of lieder and of the soprano voice as a whole. Soile Isokoski…triumphs again with this CD of lieder with piano accompaniment.
Strauss’s lifelong love affair with the soprano voice is well known, and Isokoski is as fine an interpreter of his work as you could hope for today. …she is enthralling in the flesh and she is every bit as involving on disc. The voice is rich, full and opulent with a pearly edge that sets it off beautifully. Hearing her in the opening phrase of Allerseelen, I was reminded more than ever of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, an artist to whom she has often been compared. She has all of Schwarzkopf’s beauty of tone—if not even more—but without the affectation that later came to mar some of the German soprano’s recordings. She uses her voice with remarkable expression to inhabit each nuance of Strauss’s writing, and she repeatedly reminds the listener that Strauss had an extraordinary gift for setting words.
…Marita Viitasalo inhabits the piano so fully that she seems to play almost orchestrally, and the beauty and sensitivity of her playing are every bit as significant as the singing in the success of this disc.
I could carry on heaping praise, but I’ll finish by focusing on Befreit, the highlight of the disc. The three verses each end with the phrase “O Glück!” (O happiness!) and Isokoski rises ecstatically to every refrain, but each time it is different, here suggesting fulfilment, there tinged with longing. It showcases at their very finest both her gifts as an interpreter and Strauss’s as a composer, and the ending is absolutely transcendent. If another song recital as good as this comes our way this year, then we will be blessed indeed. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review