Opera News, February 27, 1971, p. 34
by John W. Freeman
f these two issues the one with Beverly Sills will probably arouse more curiosity, because Elisabeth Schwarzkopf is already so familiar in this repertory. There is no duplication of material between the two programs. What distinguishes both is the stylish address of the singers and a level of accompaniment substantially above that of most recital records. In Miss Sills’s case, it is Aldo Ceccato who conducts with alert, elastic tempos and telling stresses (in the syncopated string figures of “Martern aller Arten,” for example).
The record starts with a concert aria conceived for Mozart’s sister-in-law Aloysia. Miss Sills sings it with translucent sostenuto and a nice sense of cadence; songful oboe phrases match off well with her voice. Constanze’s big aria from Die Entführung finds the soprano ready with trills and agility but pushing for chesty lower tones-her only lapse from a lightness that also pervades the aria “Ruhe sanft” from Zaide.
On Side Two a pair of short Strauss songs are followed by the finale (minus Apollo’s lines) from the opera Daphne, a transformation scene in which the heroine turns gradually into a tree. So does the reviewer: the apotheosis of the dominant seventh is what Strauss is really striving for in this garrulous piece. Miss Sills sings it with appropriate light-headed radiance. The Schwarzkopf record features four interesting Mozart concert arias and seven Strauss songs, at least four among the composer’s most familiar. The German soprano’s art is vast if understated, with a unique confidence and pale warmth. Over her orchestral support the late George Szell holds the reins firmly.