Richard Strauss: Through Life and Love

Louise Alder, Joseph Middleton

Richard Strauss: Through Life and Love
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Richard Strauss: Through Life and Love

Louise Alder, Joseph Middleton

Hailed as ‘one of the brightest lyric-sopranos of the younger generation', ‘a radiant performer' and ‘a born actress' Louise has been held in high critical acclaim during her early career, and has recently been declared Young Singer of the Year at the 2017 International Opera Awards. She is also no stranger to Lieder, and has worked with pianist Joseph Middleton previously at the Leeds Lieder Festival. Joseph is considered a specialist in the art of song accompaniment, and has be en described as ‘one of the brightest stars in the world of song and Lieder' by BBC Music Magazine, ‘the cream of the new generation' by The Times and ‘a perfect accompanist' by Opera Now.

Through Life and Love sees Louise and Joseph perform some of the most beautiful Lieder in the repertoire, including Strauss' Die Nacht, Standchen and Rote Rosen. Louise represented England at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition this year (reaching the finals of the Main and Song Competition, and winning the Audience Prize); this is her debut recital recording.


Recently, while perusing the shelves at Readings, I was thrilled to discover young British soprano Louise Alder’s debut Strauss recording. My excitement was twofold: I recognised her as an acquaintance from my year studying at the Royal College in London and could not wait to hear her beautiful voice once again; and I adore Richard Strauss’s lieder and could easily spend all day listening to it. Alder, accompanied by Joseph Middleton, has created a Schumann Frauenliebe und-leben-esque cycle by grouping Strauss’s songs under titles such as ‘Youth’, ‘Partnership’, and ‘Loss’.

Rather than enjoy Alder’s cycle from the beginning, I skipped straight to my favourites: Zueignung and Allerseelen, both bracketed under the final heading ‘Release’. At first, I was struck by Alder’s accuracy and control. On second listen, I was swept up in the beauty of Strauss’s music, and the fullness of Alder’s tone. She sings with considerable technical brilliance – particularly in her impressive top register – and with great sincerity. Finally I listened to the disc as intended – from start to finish as a cycle – along the way discovering such gems as SchlagendeHerzen. Strauss’s challenging songs roll effortlessly off Alder’s tongue, and glimmer under Middleton’s fingers.

Alexandra Mathew is a classical music specialist at Readings Carlton.

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