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Now for someone who’s all woman: Sylvia Sass was a young Hungarian soprano who made a sensation in the mid 1970s, sang at all the major houses for about 10 years, suffered all the usual comparisons to Callas and then somehow fizzled out. Ah well, it does lead to cult status in the long run, and this Anniversary Edition of re-released material shows just why Sass hit the big time. Her voice was a rich lyric soprano with a dash of spice to enliven things, and deployed with style and assurance. Her Verdian phrasing is spacious and supple and she generally sings within her means. What surprised me (excuse my ignorance) is that she was such an accomplished Mozartian with clean attack and poise. Her Wesendonck Lieder are equally assured, and perhaps the jewel in the crown here are her Vier letzte Lieder, revealing her also be a stunning performer of Strauss. Taken very slowly, they make a huge impact not just because of Sass’ beauty of tone but also her ability to deliver the texts as a spontaneous stream of consciousness. It’s a remarkable performance and if you love these songs and already have a favourite interpretation(s) I urge you to listen to Sass.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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