Henry Fogel
Fanfare (US)

Steve Davislim is a young Australian tenor with a quite unusual degree of musical sensitivity, and this disc (which is all songs, except for the Capriccio and Rosenkavalier excerpts) is a real pleasure. Davislim is one reason, but another very important reason is the extraordinarily beautiful conducting of Simone Young. Together, they capture the rapt mood of most of this music. Both singer and conductor seem capable of maintaining a line through long phrases, soft dynamics, and slow tempos—the result is dreamily ecstatic without ever bogging down...

...I kept coming back to this disc... [Davislim’s] pliant and supple phrasing, his clear love of singing this music, and the remarkable partnership he and Simone Young forge in this music communicate so fully to the listener that it is impossible to turn away from it.

Many of these songs were orchestrated by Strauss, some by others (quite a few by Robert Heger). The notes clearly indentify the orchestrator in each case. The disc takes its title from Verführung, which translates as “Seduction,” and the passion and richness of this song is conveyed magnificently by both tenor and orchestra. We are used to hearing some of these songs performed by women. Some of them were, in fact, written by Strauss to be sung by his wife Pauline. But there is no cognitive dissonance anywhere as we listen to Davislim make his way through the program.

Michael Kennedy’s excellent notes are informative and helpful, and Melba provides full texts and translations. The two orchestral works that round out the disc show Young and the Orchestra Victoria off to very good advantage. Melba’s sound, heard in conventional stereo, is just about perfectly balanced. All instrumental detail is heard, and the singer seems to be floating on the cushion of orchestral sound without ever being swamped by it or seeming too prominent. In case you couldn’t tell, this is a very enthusiastic recommendation.