Graham Williams
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This recording was first issued on CD eight years ago to much acclaim, and Melba has now re-mastered it for this hybrid SACD release. The SADiE H64 multi track editing workstation was used for the digital re-mastering and then the subsequent mix was mastered for SACD on the SADiE DSD8 Mastering Workstation...

So many recordings of Strauss songs, with and without an orchestra, inevitably feature sopranos, so it is refreshing to hear a selection of them sung by a tenor as fine as Steve Davislim. Unlike, for example, Siegfried Jerusalem and Rene Kollo, both of whom did record many of these songs, Davislim is not a ‘heldentenor’ and his essentially lyrical voice is very well suited to expressing the wide range of emotions expressed in these sixteen songs.

‘Heimliche Aufforderung’ that opens the programme is, from the text, obviously suited to a male voice and Davislim sings it with a fervour and firm ringing tone that is the hallmark of this recital. It would take too much space to mention all the felicities that are to be found in Davislim’s interpretations of these sixteen songs.  Suffice it to say that they range from his wonderful sensitivity in the disc’s title track ‘Verführung’ (Seduction), where in the last verse he refines his voice to a whisper for the final words ‘Du wirst mein eigen noch diese Nacht!’, through to his phenomenal breath control at the climax of ‘Befreit’. The orchestrations used are the familiar ones by Robert Heger, Felix Mottl and the composer himself.

Simone Young’s credentials as an outstanding Strauss interpreter are by now well established, and she accompanies Davislim empathetically. The playing of the Orchestra Victoria is responsive to her leadership throughout and as an added bonus we are given two purely orchestral items. The so-called ‘Moonlight Music’ that precedes the final scene of Strauss’s last opera Capriccio with its magical horn solo (beautifully played with mellow tone by the orchestra’s principal horn Richard Runnels) and the sequence of waltzes from Act 3 of ‘Der Rosenkavalier’.

As usual with Melba the presentation of the disc is outstanding. It is supplied within a 30 page hard-backed book that contains detailed notes on the music by the doyen of Strauss critics Michael Kennedy, and full German / English texts in readable sized print.

This is an interesting and valuable addition to the SACD catalogue. Recommended.