Tuesday, April 25, 2006

De profundis...

Renée Fleming had no business singing the Mahler 4th. I am not as vocal in my distaste for her as I am of other super-sopranos today, but I don't think she comes close to Mahler's idea for this song. I'll quote from Robert Levine at Amazon.com:

"The finale, with its beautiful soprano solo, is the worst work I've ever heard from Renée Fleming, who, in an attempt to sound innocent, as the score is marked, actually comes across as a teenaged brat simpering with pursed lips and a big voice she's trying to hide."

However, in Berg's Sieben frühe Lieder, she is more successful. No longer attempting to sound like she's a child seeing Heaven, she sounds more comfortable. Abbado does well with Berg's teetering post-Romantic score. The echoes of dodecaphonal music are everywhere. If Renée Fleming wanted to get some serious cred with the serious opera community (instead of appearing on every Live from Lincoln Center this season, I am exaggerating - not by much, though), she'd pull her weight with the Deutsche Grammophon executives and record Berg's Lulu. The Pierre Boulez/Orchestre d'Opera le Paris recording with Stratas has been top-dog for a while now. I am sure that Pierre or Abbado would love to put this ever-popular score back on disc. Oh, yeah.

As long as Renée leaves my Vier letzte Lieder alone, she'll be fine in my book. She also might want to avoid cutting too much Wagner. I can tell her that there is nothing quite as awful as a cadre of angry Wagnerites, copies of I Saw the World End in hand.


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