Inga Nielsen (1946-2008) was the leading Danish Soprano of the past 30 years. With an astonishing freshness to her sound she moved from lyric to dramatic soprano in the 1990s, and I remember her superb live performances as Salome (on CD as well) and Elsa at the Royal Danish Opera. Other major achievements included The Empress (Die Frau Ohne Schatten), Chrysothemis and Erwartung, roles she performed in all the major opera houses.
At times, she also performed at less stellar venues: I vividly remember a performance of Strauss´ Vier letzte lieder at my local town hall in Gentofte, Copenhagen around 1985 with a local youth orchestra in which I was playing second violin. How we got through the Strauss score alive I don´t know. And why she accepted to sing with us at all still surprises me.
The present double-CD is a more than overdue documentation of her work, and spans a period of more than 50 years of recording, beginning with "This year´s at the spring" in 1952 accompanied by her father Arne Nielsen (she was 6 years old).
Among the highlights is a complete performance of Erwartung, conducted by Gerd Albrecht, in which her clear and fresh soprano shines eerily throughout. Also the excerpts from Die Frau Ohne Schatten ( "Wehe mein mann") and Elektra ("Ich kann nicht sitzten") shows her at her best. And on top, Plácido Domingo appears in the duet "Toi! Vous! Oui...c´est moi" from Manon.
To hear Inga Nielsen in a complete role, the recording of Salome with Michael Schönwandt and the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra is among the finest on disc and strongly recommended.