the gateway to heaven on earth
October 27, 2007 4:34 PM   Subscribe

In Philip Roth's latest novel, Exit Ghost, his literary alter-ego, Nathan Zuckerman, exclaims after hearing Richard Strauss's "Four Last Songs" that "the composer drops all masks and, at the age of 82, stands before you naked. And you dissolve." Renee Fleming performs Im Abendrot, September, Beim Schlafengehen, Fruhling. Head Butler provides some interesting background on Strauss and the different performances.

Im Abendrot

(At Sunset)

Through trouble and joy we have
walked hand in hand;
we can rest from our wanderings
now, above the peaceful countryside.

The valleys fall away around us,
the sky is already darkening,
Only a pair of larks still rise
dreamily into the scented air.

Come here, and let them fly
For soon it will be time to sleep
and we must not lose our way
in this solitude.

O broad, contented peace!
So deep in the sunset glow,
How exhausted we are with our wandering
--- can this then be death?
posted by vronsky (7 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Oh. Yes. Oh, yes. I love the Four Last Songs will all my heart. With more than my heart, with all my soul. They are a pinnacle of art.
posted by jokeefe at 4:40 PM on October 27, 2007

"with", not will
posted by jokeefe at 4:41 PM on October 27, 2007

These songs are every kind of amazing.
posted by tepidmonkey at 5:23 PM on October 27, 2007

Tried to like those links. Too heavy for me. Never having liked opera particularly, it was a delightful surprise to hear an interview of Renee Fleming on the radiio some years ago. She seemed to be such a likable person. It touched me how insecure she seemed, worried about her looks and weight, lonely at times. That seemed so unlikely for such a talented and world renowned singer. I started listening to her work. Ah, what joy! Love the Mozart arias for women.

The exquisite trilling, lightness, sublimely liquid range, Renee singing Mozart's Exultate, jubilate "Alleluja"

Counting makes you feel alive, Renee on the Muppets.

Charlie Rose interview with her minute 35 on. Her site. Wiki.
posted by nickyskye at 6:07 PM on October 27, 2007

Thank you, thank you - lovely to hear Im Abendrot, planning on getting a fire going in the fireplace and wallowing in some Rene Fleming. Thanks for the plan, Vronsky!
posted by readery at 6:15 PM on October 27, 2007

Very nice. Some of my favorite music ever. Although, I prefer Jessye Norman's recording, particularly of #3, Beim Schlafengehen. (Just listen to the crescendo she does starting around 2:50...)
posted by dnash at 8:52 AM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks dnash. I was hoping some more knowledgeable mefites would post some alternate performances.
posted by vronsky at 12:22 PM on October 28, 2007

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