Lise Davidsen, Philharmonia Orchestra & Esa-Pekka Salonen - Richard Strauss: Four Last Songs / Wagner: Arias from Tannhäuser

Review Lise Davidsen, Philharmonia Orchestra & Esa-Pekka Salonen - Richard Strauss: Four Last Songs / Wagner: Arias from Tannhäuser

It is astonishing that Decca gives such a big gun to a young singer's debut solo album with the former long-standing principal conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonia Orchestra Esa- Pekka Salonen, who is the principal conductor of the London-based Philharmonia Orchestra for already 11 years now. This orchestra was founded by Walter Legge in the early 1950s as a pure record orchestra and with whom Otto Klemperer had his famous EMI recordings produced in the late autumn of his career. In view of the numerous young singers hyped to be stars to come, such an outline is either a sign that the record company holds the greatest pieces by Lise Davidsen as an artist, or that the splendor of the famous conductor and the equally famous orchestra is intended to cover a mediocre performance by the soloist, which does not happen so seldom. The fact that the first is quite obviously true becomes clear as soon as one has taken note of the 32-year-old singer's artistic maturity and vocal bravura.

The Norwegian Lisa Davidson has a lyrical dramatic soprano who, as can be seen from her solo debut album, has a rare radiance which is extraordinary not least for her youth and reminds us of the exceptional Scandinavian singers Birgit Nilsson and Kirsten Flagstad. For her album, the choice fell on vocal excellence and strong expressiveness requiring compositions by Richard Wagner and Richard Straus. The apparent ease with which Lisa Davidsen is able to overpower the orchestra in fortissimo parts, which are characteristic of both composers, is breathtaking. Even despisers of Strauss and Wagner compositions cannot help but be fascinated by the assertiveness and sheer radiance of this soprano, whose throat transforms into the trombone of Jericho when it comes to presenting the sung text for voice and orchestra at full volume. The opposite pole of this extreme volume of powerful sopranos is the delicate sound and lyrical voice shaping in quieter and very quiet parts, wherein the substance and potential power of the voice is preserved. The content of the new album is perfectly suited to demonstrate the qualities of this voice. And Lisa Davidson also owes nothing in terms of expressiveness, i.e. conveying the specific content of the Wagner and Straus compositions. Esa Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia prove to be ideal album partners for the singer with their dedicated commitment.

No wonder that Bayreuth already became aware of the multiple award-winning Lisa Davidson. In Bayreuth the singer takes over the role of Elisabeth in the new production of Tannhäuser this year. She can then be witnessed as Elisabeth at the Bavarian State Opera and the Zurich Opera House.

Decca therefore had every reason to give a big gun to a young singer's debut solo album in the form of the Philharmonia Orchestra and its chief conductor Esa Pekka Salonen. The only thing that remains is to wish Lisa Davidson all the best for her future career as a singer, including professional advice to ensure that her fabulous vocal material survives the strain of Wagner, Strauss and the like for as long as possible.

Lise Davidsen, soprano
Philharmonia Orchestra
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor

Lise Davidsen, Philharmonia Orchestra & Esa-Pekka Salonen - Richard Strauss: Four Last Songs / Wagner: Arias from Tannhäuser

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