Very little in music is as beautiful as Richard Strauss’s songs with orchestra. The Four Last Songs have been recorded by dozens of sopranos, and you can pretty much pick the voice you prefer. But the other orchestral songs (these) have been recorded by a select few sopranos and tenors. If you like the voice, I would think you should have recordings of these by Felicity Lott and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, sopranos, and by Fritz Wunderlich, Siegfried Jerusalem, and Steve Davislim, tenors. No two collections are the same songs, though they overlap.
Steve Davislim is Australian but has sung all over Europe and with many US orchestras and opera companies. And, yes, he belongs with the other great names. His recording of these songs is from 1999, and in a year or two one of our readers gave me a copy. Now that the label is distributed in the USA (by Albany) it has reissued this album with SACD remastering. It was a multi-track recording in the first place, and it sounds even better now ... there is a nice picture of Mr Davislim, who looks slightly Asian. His voice is not reedy, though, like so many Asian tenors. It is rich and resonant and rather German—extremely attractive. And he understands what he is singing and puts it across most effectively.
There are 16 songs, plus the short closing scene from Capriccio and the 'Second Waltz Sequence' from Der Rosenkavalier to end the program. There are texts, and the translations are excellent. A fine essay by Strauss biographer Michael Kennedy completes the package.
Strauss thought his songs were his best music. It may be so. Listen to these with the texts and translations and no distractions, you may well agree with the composer. You will marvel at the power of the texts (MacKay, Klopstock, Dehmel, others) and the orchestrations and how well the latter set forth the former. You will often be close to tears. They couldn’t be more perfect, more exquisite. Nor could this recording.