Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
THROUGH LIFE AND LOVE
Youth: Das Mädchen
Ach was Kummer, Qual und Schmerzen
Breit’ über mein Haupt
Wie sollten wir geheim sie halten
Ruhe, meine Seele!
Total time: 64.48
Louise Alder – soprano
Joseph Middleton – piano
Coming from a household filled with lush baroque music as a child, I found Strauss a little later in my musical journey and vividly remember how hard I fell in love with a recording of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf singing Vier Letze Lieder, aged about 16. I couldn’t believe from the beginning of the first song it could possibly get any more ecstatic and full of emotion, and yet it did. It was a short step from there to Strauss opera for me, and with the birth of YouTube I sat until the early hours of many a morning in my tiny room at Edinburgh University, listening to, watching and obsessing over Der Rosenkavalier’s final trio and presentation of the rose. So when Glyndebourne Festival Opera asked me to cover Sophie in Richard Jones’ new production of Der Rosenkavalier in 2014, I leapt at the chance, even though at that stage I had only sung a relatively small handful of Strauss songs while a master’s student at the Royal College of Music. And as luck would have it, and every cover’s dream, I was offered the chance to jump in and sing the BBC Proms performance that year.
That evening I made my Glyndebourne, role, BBC Proms, London Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Radio 3 débuts simultaneously and it was during the final trio looking out to the packed audience full of friends and family, and to the magnificent Royal Albert Hall in my hometown, that my personal passionate love affair with the great man was cemented. Since then, I have joyfully added many of his Lieder to my repertoire. Strauss’ vocal writing is second to none, so descriptive and imaginative. He writes every modicum of emotion and humour into the word setting, the vocal line, tessitura, the harmony and piano part. As a singing actor his songs are a dream to perform, so full of character and chances to colour and play with the text, and purely as an instrument he writes as if the voice has no end and no beginning, at the same time aware of limitations, yet always pushing it to extremes. When I was asked what I would like to sing for my debut album, it was clear that his songs spoke most to me, because in singing them I feel free, musically uplifted and utterly able to express myself. It was a real pleasure to record this album with the incomparable Joseph Middleton.
Louise Alder, 2017
Louise Alder studied at the Royal College of Music’s International Opera School where she was the inaugural Kiri Te Kanawa Scholar. She was awarded 2nd Prize in the 2013 Kathleen Ferrier Competition, is the recipient of Glyndebourne’s 2014 John Christie Award, the 2015 inaugural Young British Soloists’ Competition and represented England in Cardiff Singer of the World 2017.
As a member of the ensemble at Oper Frankfurt her roles have included Susanna Le nozze di Figaro, Despina Cosi fan Tutte, Gilda Rigoletto, Cleopatra Giulio Cesare, Atalanta Xerxes, Sophie Der Rosenkavalier, Gretel Hänsel und Gretel and the title role in The Cunning Little Vixen. Elsewhere she has sung Sophie Der Rosenkavalier, Zerlina Don Giovanni and Lucia The Rape of Lucretia for Glyndebourne; Sophie Der Rosenkavalier for Welsh National Opera; Ilia Idomeneo for Garsington Opera; Rapunzel Into the Woods for Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and Euridice in Luigi Rossi’s Orpheus for the Royal Opera.
Concert performances have taken her to the Aldeburgh, Enescu, Edinburgh, St Magnus, Graz Styriarte and London Handel Festivals and to the BBC Proms. Particular highlights include appearances with the LSO/Elder, Academy of Ancient Music/Egarr, OAE/Bolton, Hallé Orchestra/Macelaru, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Volkov, BBC Philharmonic/Mena and the Royal Northern Sinfonia/Bicket.
Louise is also a passionate recitalist, appearing at the Musikverein in Graz, Wigmore Hall, Opera Frankfurt, Birmingham’s Barber Institute, Purcell Room and the Brighton and Leeds Lieder Festivals with pianists Joseph Middleton, Helmut Deutsch, Gary Matthewman and John Paul Ekins.
Highly acclaimed pianist Joseph Middleton specialises in the art of song accompaniment and chamber music. He is Director of Leeds Lieder, Musician in Residence at Pembroke College Cambridge and a Professor at his alma mater, the Royal Academy of Music.
Joseph collaborates with many of the world’s finest singers in major venues worldwide, and has an award-winning and fast-growing discography. He is a regular guest at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna Konzerthaus, Zürich Tonhalle, Köln Philharmonie, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Musée d’Orsay in Paris and London’s Wigmore Hall. Recent seasons have also taken him to the Aldeburgh, Aix-en-Provence, Edinburgh, Ravinia, and Stuttgart Festivals.
Joseph collaborates with internationally established singers including Sir Thomas Allen, Ian Bostridge, Sarah Connolly, Lucy Crowe, Iestyn Davies, Wolfgang Holzmair, Christiane Karg, Katarina Karnéus, Simon Keenlyside, Dame Felicity Lott, Christopher Maltman, John Mark Ainsley, Kate Royal, Carolyn Sampson and Roderick Williams. His critically acclaimed discography includes discs with Carolyn Sampson (Radio France’s Disc of the Month & nominated for a Gramophone Award), Ruby Hughes (BBC Music Magazine’s Recording of the Month), Dame Felicity Lott, Amanda Roocroft, Clara Mouriz, Matthew Rose and Allan Clayton. Joseph made his BBC Proms debut in 2016 with Iestyn Davies and Carolyn Sampson, and won the Young Artists Award at the 2017 RPS Awards.
Critics’ Choice for 2017
Of all the new recordings I’ve heard this year, I’m not sure any has given such unalloyed pleasure as Louise Alder’s debut recital…..
…..brilliantly accompanied by Joseph Middleton
THE SUNDAY TIMES
Album of the Week
That Alder is a Strauss (and Mozart) soprano of rare gifts has been obvious for quite a while. Her radiant, silver-flecked-with-gold tone, long-breathed phrases and exquisitely floated high notes are a prerequisite for this repertoire….she brings vivid interpretative qualities, aided by her superb pianist, who relishes the rippling arpeggios of Ständchen (Serenade).…this is a remarkable debut….
A popular choice for the audience prize at the 2017 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and a superb Sophie in WNO’s recent Der Rosenkavalier, Louise Alder has captured hearts in Wales and beyond. This disc of Richard Strauss songs comes at just the right moment in her ascent towards stardom….she sings with unusual and touching introversion and contemplation….vivid narrative skill, rich in colour and detail, and with a stunning purity of tone on long notes…. Alder is beautifully partnered by pianist Joseph Middleton.
Alder has come out of the blocks with an all-Strauss album, Through Life and Love. It suggests that the soprano won’t stay out of the spotlight on these shores for much longer…. Alder’s voice floats beautifully over Middleton’s piano
BBC RECORD REVIEW
It’s wonderful to hear the voice that charmed and captivated so many at Cardiff Singer [of the World] in the Strauss songs that obviously mean so much to Louise…. This is a clear, fresh, silvery voice….The expressive breadth and immediacy of Middleton’s piano playing is exceptional as well – quite a debut all in all.
This debut is a delight….love for the composer – and his songs – is vividly articulated at every point throughout this lovely disc.