Lisa Della Casa in Recital
Lisa Della Casa
Catalogue No.

That Richard Strauss loved and understood the soprano voice is an inescapable fact. He was married to soprano, Pauline de Ahna and thus had a living laboratory for his song-writing. Even after Pauline had retired from the stage, he continued to favour sopranos in his operas and other vocal compositions. And sopranos repaid him with wonderful performances.

Lisa Della Casa had only fleeting contacts with Strauss but she inherited the great tradition and after his death, she became the pre-eminent singer of his music in the 1950s and 1960s. She made the first recording of his ‘Four Last Songs’ and, although many versions have jostled for our attention since then, her achievement has not been surpassed. She had the inestimable advantages of the Vienna Philharmonic and an experienced Strauss interpreter, Karl Böhm, as her partners. She and her conductor also came to the songs without preconceptions: they looked at the music and deduced from Strauss’s markings that it should not be performed too slowly. As a result, they brought a freshness to songs.

A rare recital disc recorded for Decca brings immaculate performances of music by Schubert, Brahms, Wolf and Strauss. Her purity of utterance and lack of sentimentality make for a mesmerising experience. Lisa Della Casa was in some respects a throwback to the pre-war Lieder interpreters who did not feel the necessity to underline every word and trusted their listeners to use some imagination. We even hear her employ some old-fashioned portamento. But her clarity of enunciation and deep understanding of the German texts are models for younger singers.


Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D.774
Im Frühling, D.882
Du bist die Ruh’, D.776
Gretchen am Spinnrade, D.118

Wie Melodien zieht es mir, Op. 105 No. 1
Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer, Op. 105 No. 2
Von ewiger Liebe, Op. 43 No. 1
Ständchen, Op. 106 No. 1

Der Gärtner
from Spanisches Liederbuch:
Geh’, Geliebter, geh’ jetzt
Er ist’s

Einerlei, Op. 69 No. 3
Ich wollt’ einen Sträusslein binden, Op. 68 No. 2
Schlechtes Wetter, Op. 69 No. 5
Befreit, Op. 39 No. 4
Vier letzte Lieder+

Lisa Della Casa, soprano
Karl Hudez, piano
Wiener Philharmoniker+
Karl Böhm+

Recording information

Recording Producers: John Culshaw (1–16); Victor Olof (17–20)
Balance Engineers: Gordon Parry (1–16); Cyril Windebank (17–20)
Recording Locations: Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria, June 1953 (17–20); Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, June 1956 (1–16)
Remastering Engineer: Chris Bernauer


‘Lisa Della Casa brings notable gifts to Lieder singing, a clear and lovely voice, good intonation … She gives great enjoyment in most of these songs’ (Lieder recital) Gramophone

‘Although the performances of Strauss and Brahms are very brilliant, the most profound singing is to be found in the songs of Schubert and Wolf. Della Casa seems to be most deeply moved by them, and consequently the listener is moved as well.’ (Lieder recital) Fanfare

‘Lisa Della Casa sings most beautifully, with pure tone and most musicianly phrasing, above all in September, which exhales a quiet and most poignant rapture. Beim Schlafengehen is as lovely … in Im Abendrot everything is perfect … This is an important issue and one that no lover of Strauss’s music must miss.’ (Strauss: Vier letzte Lieder) Gramophone