The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (151): Sleepy time

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (151): Sleepy time


norman lebrecht

August 13, 2020

From my all time favourite recording of the Strauss Four Last Songs:

Other options:


  • M2N2K says:

    Also available on YouTube are a couple of recordings of the Four Last Songs made by Jessie Norman that are at least as marvelous as these three here.

  • E says:

    I weep.

    But it is Isolde redeemed.


  • Alexander Tarak says:

    Schwarzkopf for me.

  • AngloGerman says:

    Flagstad? Schwarzkopf?

  • fflambeau says:

    Nice but I prefer: Jesse Norman with Kurt Masur; Renee Fleming with Claudio Abbado; Elizabeth Schwarzkopf with Geoge Szell; Elly Ameling with Sawallisch; Leontyne Price with Fritz Reiner. There have been lots of greats.

  • fflambeau says:

    I missed this one because it is very old (but probably considered the best of all time): Kirsten Flagstad–Soprano
    Wilhelm Furtwängler.

  • Bone says:

    During particularly troubling times I the late 80’s/early 90’s, Jessye Norman and Im Abendrot were a consistent comfort. I know there are other versions, but this one holds such a special place for me that I’m not sure I could ever fully enjoy another version.
    Coincidence: eventually, I settled in Jessye’s hometown.

  • Amos says:

    Please check this live performance from 1968, outdoors no less, with Schwarzkopf George Szell and The Cleveland Orchestra:

  • Jay says:

    This sort of approach is the death of the art/ to keep going
    back to a recording of a moment in time as a favorite
    musical experience is not what music is about . No true artist would ever consider any performance as the favorite
    “it ” performance, mostly everything” will do” until the next attempt at perfection which never arrives.To hear over and over the same inflections of sound,the same phrasing,
    must indeed be frightening.

    • Amos says:

      Why is the opportunity to re-visit an art form or performance which enriches your life the death of art. A re-visit doesn’t preclude you from visiting elsewhere. For me if I was only allowed to hear a favorite recording once it would be disheartening. Clearly, not like losing a loved one but perhaps somewhat akin to the way people trapped behind border walls are unable to freely associate with friends and family.

  • Nick2 says:

    All wonderful – but what about Gundula Janiwitz superb rendition?

    • Melisande says:

      For sure not to be missed and heard is indeed Gundula Janowitz and the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by von Karajan. And a bit earlier in time is Lisa della Casa with the Wiener Philharmoniker under Bohm.

  • Daniel Poulin says:

    Glenn Gould and Canadian soprano Lois Marshall perform „No. 3: Beim Schlafengehen“ a part of the „Vier letzte Lieder” composed by Richard Strauss, originally broadcast on October 15, 1962.

    • Edgar Self says:

      “Haende lasst von Allen tun / Langsam tut die mutgewordenen Augen zu.” From memory, I hope recognisable. Lovely close to the day, and opening to the Night, and last of the last Romantic Lieder there may ever be, in their first order, though I like “Im Abendrot” now to end. Such beautiful music, as if written long before and saved to make a good end. The words echo Lao-Tze and”I Ching”: “If nothing is done, all will be well,” very Zen. Whatever the length, one sleeps like a good child.

      Ive seen Norman sing them, ideal voice but alas no words at all; and Schwarzkopf, all the words and intelligence, knowing way with the idiom. exquisite voice Flagstad called the most beautiful from a human throat; Flagstad herself and Furtwaengler, the first performers; Della Casa and Boehm with VPO and a perfect drum-stroke to set the sun in “Abendrot”, and Janowitz give life to Hesse’s words, and Eidhendorff’s envoi to Romanticism and t Lied. Daily comfort and for all time.

      . I am glad to hear the others, even Ljuba Welitsch with piano, and Konrad Jarnot if he attempts them, but know where to look for what I want.

      These Lieder, with Sviridov’s Petersburg and Blok songs” by Hvorostosky and Arkadiev, and Shostakovich are the latest born music to deal the mortal wound Frost calls Poetry. The question isn’t whether you remember, but ould you ever forget.

      Forgive my mistakes; there are degrees even of blindness.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    The three recordings offered are marvelous, wonderful, to be cherished.
    But for me it’s Janowitz/Karajan. Heavenly.

  • I have a number of versions, but my three “go to’s” are Popp / Tennstedt, Norman / Masur, and Schawarzkopf / Szell. Tennstedt gets to the emotional heart of the piece, and to mine as well.

  • Bruce says:

    Margaret Price is a wonder, as in Popp. But then, it seems like everyone who sings these really does some of their best singing. There have been so many wonderful performances and recordings: it’s clear these songs inspire singers to bring their very best.

  • Oberon says:

    Try listening to Teresa Zylis-Gara…