Richard Strauss’s evocation of sunset in his Four Last Songs must be one of the most sublime musical pictures ever written, having left an indelible impression on the imagination of countless listeners since its appearance in 1949. Having witnessed the physical and psychological destruction of much that he held dear, Strauss gave the distinct impression that the sun had also set on the lied , that distinctive but intimate emblem of Germanic musical culture.

Matthias Goerne

Strauss would be relieved to know that the Lied has many fine interpreters today; not least the persuasive baritone Matthias Goerne, who has arguably inherited the mantle of his former teacher Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Goerne has chosen to explore the sunset of the Lied in a thoughtful, thought-provoking program reaching back to Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder , and then pitting Strauss against his cranky contemporary, Hans Pfitzner. 

Although originally conceived for female voice, male singers going back to Lauritz Melchior have sung excerpts...