Emma Bell - Songs by Richard Strauss, Bruno Walter and Joseph Marx - The Guardian
17 September 2004The Guardian
Soprano Emma Bell is so closely associated with Baroque music that this foray into some of the lesser-known regions of post-Romanticism will doubtless take many by surprise. The centrepiece is a rare complete performance of Strauss's Mädchenblumen - a glorious cycle, despite its naff text, which eulogises women by comparing them to flowers. Joseph Marx's songs, once popular with divas, have fallen out of favour of late; they prove to be torridly chromatic pieces, by turns mystic and erotic. We also tend to forget, nowadays, that Bruno Walter was a composer as well as a conductor, though his songs - inevitably, perhaps - sound very like those of Mahler, his great hero. As always with Bell, you're left slightly in awe of the sumptuousness of her voice and its tremendous agility over a colossal range, while her pianist Andrew West is suitably impassioned throughout. A treat.
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