Friday, September 19, 2014

Susanna Phillips Sings Praises Of Richard Strauss Songs

(Photo: Zachary Maxwell)
"Susanna Phillips, Carlos Miguel Prieto and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra love to take risks. That's certainly clear from the season-opening, musical challenge that the celebrated singer, rising-star conductor and New Orleans band have arranged for Friday (Sept. 19). When the musicians gather at the Mahalia Jackson Theater, they will test technique, soul, and stamina in a series of visionary works penned by Richard Strauss. Phillips will appear for the program's centerpiece, the 'Four Last Songs,' which Strauss composed in 1945, while contemplating the end of life and the disappearance of the cultured, music-loving Germany that had sustained his work for half-a-century. Phillips first sang those culminating masterworks in her early 20s, in Huntsville, Alabama, when Prieto led the orchestra there. 'It's an amazing experience to come back to the 'Four Last Songs' over the years. They never feel the same because I have changed so much as a singer and as a woman,' Phillips said. 'I'm always seduced by their beauty, of course, but now I approach them with more simplicity. As a young singer I tried to act out the words, because I hadn't lived enough, didn't understand enough about the poems Strauss set.' Phillips has a tip for Friday's concertgoers: read the poems that inspired Strauss. 'Vocal music always is driven by the text – and these poems, by Hermann Hesse and Joseph von Eichendorff, really are the entrance point for singers and listeners. I'm always seduced by their mood of serene acceptance, and the understanding of death that Strauss underscores with every note,' Phillips said. 'I care about that message, and that's the key to Strauss for me. It's not just about hitting high notes and finding a comfortable tempo. I come from a different school: if I don't feel the music in my heart, it won't be heard it in my voice. I think Prieto and the LPO operate from the same assumptions – and that's why I'm so excited about this concert.'" [Source]

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