Richard Strauss by Louise Alder and Joseph Middleton

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.