Cher Public

First of the last

An early preview of the new Netrebko/Barneboim/Strauss CD, including Anna’s first performance of the “Vier letzte Lieder,” following the jump.

  • mercadante

    No es bueno, no es bueno.

  • Ouf

    It’s funny you mention the Don Carlo, which I received as LPs the week they appeared and always loved — until I realized, only three years ago, but definitively, that we don’t really have a choice over this opera, other than of language: Verdi made a mistake in 1883! Period. And HvK fell for it despite the composer’s correction, leaving us a damn torso.

    • Ouf

      @ Porgy Amor.

    • Porgy Amor

      No, K never did get the five-act religion. However, one thing I can say on behalf of the EMI studio recording of the four-act — at least there we get every jot and squibble of 1883. Live, he always cut it brutally, even as late as 1986 (as seen on that dreary video release). The excellent 1958 Salzburg recording with Jurinac has every cut one fears and others I’ve never heard anywhere else (he even makes an excision in the middle of “Tu che le vanita”).

      I’m not sure Verdi himself ever made a correction. I think he just did not object when Modena joined the first act to (essentially) his four-act final thought, which is what we hear on the recordings of Giulini, Solti, and the ROH video of Pappano. To my understanding, V always maintained that what he had produced in 1883 was the most forceful and concentrated version of the opera, and this does seem in line with his general growth curve as a composer. Doesn’t mean it’s the way I want to hear it.

  • Oh no Anna. Intonation, text, legato, chiaroscuro, everything is so wrong for her.

    My recordings are Jurinac, della Casa, Schwarzkopf I (Ackermann), Popp I (Tennstedt), Tomowa-Sintow, probably the best ever are Isokoski with Oramo and Margiono with de Waart.
    For me Margiono had absolutely everything for this music -- intelligence, heart, chiaroscuro, spin and that Straussian legato. And the top opened up so beautifully back in the 1990s.
    De Waart is warm, sensitive and creates a fabric which is wonderfully both alive and transparent. For once the falling leaves in September (flageolette+flute) are clearly discernible.

    She is visibly in tears after the 2nd and last songs. Somebody here once called her Harnoncourt’s whore. Well she might have been, but she certainly could sing, and most beautifully.

    • scifisci

      These are really excellently sung and moving in their sincerity. I love how dense her tone is…instrumental almost but not cold.

    • luvtennis


      Thanks for the Margiono. She is wonderful.

      I rank VLL recordings as follows:

      Norman -- When I want the epic-world saving glimpse of the beyond -- inhuman -- take.

      Margiono -- When I want the human touch.

      DellaCasa/Kiri (1) -- When I want to take break and just wallow in the sound of a perfectly produced (in DellaCasa’s case for a short period of time sadly) lyric soprano.

      I really wish the HvK had recorded the VLL with L. Price back in say 1959 at the time she recorded Donna Elvira for Leinsdorf. That might have been worth a listen.

      • Yes. 1959 (time of her amazing Elvira). that would have been perfect.

        I agree, Margiono is the human / humane version. Lucia Popp had it too, but generosity apart, I really think the scxore needs more chiaroscuro and spin. The Popp legato was never really a proper one.

        Two questions for you LT:
        1. Don’t you have a probelm with the Norman hardening on top and the loss of legato in Fruehling, say?

        2. Isokoski is too cold for you? Are you familiar with the live Oramo, which is really wonderful IMO…

        • moi

          And are we forgetting the other Finn; Mattila,
          who has performed this a lot and has recorded it w Abbado

        • luvtennis


          It’s so funny that you should mention Norman and Fruhling. I actually find her performance of the song to be the most perfect vocally. And I have not noticed any problems with legato anywhere.

          Perhaps I have lost my discernment, but I have always felt that her singing on the Masur was epic in everyway.

          Isokowski commands the songs technically like no other, but I don’t feel anything while listening to her recording of the music. She has no sense of “fantasy.”

          • No not fantasy. But utter delight in the music and text and the way the voice operates. Breath control is nothing but phenomenal.

            • luvtennis

              I will give the Isokowski recording a new listen in light of your recommendation. Perhaps I did not give this a fair shake.

            • The video not the Janowski CD.

              In both cases its amazing how two unattractive women become so glowing and beautiful when they sing this. Especially Margiono acquires a special kind of beauty, with those expressive eyes.

            • luvtennis

              Aha! I was not aware of the Oramo performance. I will listen to the videos posted here.

              How is Julia doing? I haven’t heard much from her in recent months…

          • So interesting watching this, roughly 5-6 years before the de Waart. The instrument is even lovelier and it’s so fresh. I think it was a Schwarzkopf contest, who probably was livid with envy

          • And amazing breath control here at the melisma after the violin ritornello. Yes she sings with a score but it’s def not a student performance. The musical instincts are so immersed in the voice and body. And she has already mastered the mix necessary for the Straussian top.

            • Compare this with the other videos from the contest. Kazumi Kohno is unlovely, whereas Miranda van Kralingen sounds as if she has no idea what she’s singing about -- this really is a student performance. Margiono immediately tells a story, and it is a personal one. The Verlangen really has longing, the muedes Kind really has a sense of sweet weariness.

            • Buster

              Schwarzkopf was very impressed by both women, claiming she found “the girl who will sing Fiordiligi all over the place the next ten years” -- meaning van Kralingen. Margiono was further advanced at this stage (1987), she had already sung a Flowermaiden for Hans Vonk, Valencienne for Harry Kupfer, and a few other roles.

        • luvtennis


          I have just been listening to some of my recordings of VLL, and I have to ask you -- where does Jessye break legato? I know it sounds as if she does in the great melismatic phrase launched on “wunder” but really the thread is maintained and she has enough breath to expand marvelously on the “vor mir?”

          For me, no one else shapes the melismatic phrases like she does. I find that so many other singers are forced to rush through the long phrases, and the tone blanches at the top or sags a bit. Even so grand a technician as Isokowski gets a little shrill at the top in her studio performance with Janowski. And while I understand how you could hear some of the high notes as “hard,” I find weight of tone thrilling and the high notes powerful and penetrating. I like my VLL very grand. And as for breath control -- wow. She never breaks the long lines for breath Schwartzkopf does for instance, among others.

          And I find Jessye’s “Beim Schlafengehen” beyond compare.

          • To me, Jessye has endless line and legato in that recording. The tone dries up a bit on the very top notes but that’s really the only quibble I could possibly find with her vocally. Obviously, the slow tempi and grand approach aren’t to everyone’s liking (fair enough) but from a purely vocal perspective, it is one of the great recorded documents of the last 30 years.

    • Feldmarschallin

      Well I just started listening to the first Lied and already she sings ‘in dämmrigen Grufden’. Sorry fail. At least she got rid of the score.

      • mirywi

        First one meaning isokoski?

        • Feldmarschallin

          No Margiono.

          • mirywi

            That ugly vowel must be a result of either poor teaching or poor learning.

  • pasavant

    I hope Ms. Netrebko gets some serious career advice. And that she has not given up her day job.

    • La marquise de Merteuil

      Pasavant -- AN is crying all the way to the bank!

      • Ouf

        En effet !

      • Guestoria Unpopularenka

        And? So is Nicky Minaj.

  • EarlyRomantic

    The Nina Stemme VLL also sinks into oblivion.

  • Salome Where She Danced

    I feel sorry for those punters who buy AN’s 4 Last Songs, just on the strength of her name, without knowing that virtually every other recorded performance is better than this.


  • damekenneth

    Back to the VLL, I am kind of surprised that no one has mentioned Soderstrom. Hers may not be the most opulent version vocal -- shallower breath and not so grand phrasing -- but her introspective interpretation is one I find haunting.
    By the way, I had just been thinking I would have loved to have heard Cotrubas in this and then read Amerj’s comment that there is a live version somewhere. Is that readily available?