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Two new recordings from highly acclaimed specialists Opera Rara -
Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe.
It is not often that a major work by a forgotten composer gets rediscovered
and makes an enormously favorable impression on today’s listeners. That has
happened, unexpectedly, with Herculanum, a four-act grand opera by
Félicien David, which in 2014 was recorded for the first time.
This recording, made in the Adrian Boult Hall at the Birmingham Conservatoire of Music in June 2014, is the fourth disc in SOMM’s series of recordings with Paul Spicer and the Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir.
Félicien David’s intriguing Le désert, for vocal and orchestral forces plus narrator, was widely performed in its own day, then disappeared from the performing repertory for nearly a century.
This well-packed disc is a delight and a revelation. Until now, even the
most assiduous record collector had access to only a few of the nearly 100
songs published by Félicien David (1810-76), in recordings by such notable
artists as Huguette Tourangeau, Ursula Mayer-Reinach, Udo Reinemann, and Joan
Sutherland (the last-mentioned singing the duet “Les Hirondelles”
This new release of John Taverner’s virtuosic and florid Missa
Corona spinea (produced by Gimell Records) comes two years after The
Tallis Scholars’ critically esteemed recording of the composer’s
Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, which topped the UK Specialist Classical
Album Chart for 6 weeks, and with which the ensemble celebrated their
40th anniversary. The recording also includes Taverner’s two
settings of Dum transisset Sabbatum.
Sounds swirl with an urgent emotionality and meandering virtuosity on Jonas Kaufmann’s new Puccini album—the “real one”, according
to Kaufmann, whose works were also released earlier this year on Decca records, allegedly without his approval.
Marion Cotillard and Marc Soustrot bring the drama to the sweeping score of Arthur Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au
bûcher, an adaptation of the Trial of Joan of Arc
Stephen Paulus provided the musical world, and particularly the choral world, with music both provocative and pleasing through a combination of lyricism and a modern-Romantic tonal palette.
Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.
As the editor of Opera magazine, John Allison, notes in his editorial in the June issue, Donizetti fans are currently spoilt for choice, enjoying a ‘Donizetti revival’ with productions of several of the composer’s lesser known works cropping up in houses around the world.
Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and
Carolyn Sampson has long avoided the harsh glare of stardom but become a favourite singer for “those in the know” — and if you are not one of those it is about time you were.
This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.
This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.
We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.
Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but
this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas
Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings
can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.
Bernarda Fink’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder is an important new release that includes outstanding performances of the composer’s well-known songs, along with compelling readings of some less-familiar ones.
Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.
This live performance of Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne staging of
Humperdinck’s affectionately regarded fairy tale opera, was recorded at
Glyndebourne Opera House in July and August 2010, and the handsomely produced
disc set — the discs are presented in a hard-backed, glossy-leaved book and
supplemented by numerous production photographs and an informative article by
Julian Johnson — is certainly stylish and unquestionably recommendable.
14 Nov 2004
Myto Releases Ernani
VERDI:Ernani with Giovanna d'Arco excerpts Georgio Merighi (Ernani), Piero Cappuccilli (Don Carlo), Augusto Ferrin (De Silva), Mara Zampieri (Elvira) Trieste Teatro Communale/ MolinariPradelli; Mara Zampieri (Giovanna), Renato Francesconi (Carlo), Ettore Nova (Giacomo) San Remo Symphony/ Buenza-Delil Myto 41288 [2CD] 148...
with Giovanna d'Arco excerpts
Georgio Merighi (Ernani), Piero Cappuccilli (Don Carlo), Augusto Ferrin (De Silva), Mara Zampieri (Elvira) Trieste Teatro Communale/ MolinariPradelli; Mara Zampieri (Giovanna), Renato Francesconi (Carlo), Ettore Nova (Giacomo) San Remo Symphony/ Buenza-Delil
Myto 41288 [2CD] 148 minutes
Presumably intended simply as a tribute to the soprano, this "complete" Ernani emerges as an exciting, worthwhile performance in its own right. The bonus-most of Giovanna's role-if not quite up to the same standard, is still enjoyable.
Zampieri's few commercial recordings were generally not well received, and one could only concur with the unfavorable critical opinions they evoked. Her work here reveals a vastly superior singer; the voice is in fine shape from a gleaming top to a telling lower register. Moreover, it has an immediately recognizable timbre and is used intelligently. Her opening recitative, taken softly with an air of inward retrospection, immediately establishes Elvira's character. The following aria, 'Ernani, Involami', goes exceptionally well; and if her trill in the cabaletta is not quite the equal of Ponselle's, it remains an exciting and accurate traversal of this "sewing machine" music.
Her Ernani is a worthy partner. Merighi may not be the subtlest of tenors, but his ringing, virile tones are appropriate and he sounds involved in a role that usually emerges as a mere cipher. Cappuccilli commences in slightly hectoring fashion but improves steadily as the opera proceeds. His 'O de' verd'anni miei' is a high point and the audience responds appropriately. Unfortunately, he is rather off-mike for the concerted 'O Sommo Carlo', which thereby loses some of its effect. As the true villain of the piece, Ferrin sounds uncannily like the great Tancredi Pasero and commences with an even more prominent vibrato, which, fortunately, speedily lessens. Perhaps wisely, the cabaletta to his aria, `Infelice, e tuo Credevi', is omitted.
Molinari-Pradelli conducts a cohesive, fastmoving performance but always appears keenly sympathetic to his soloist's idiosyncrasies. In the Giovanna d'Arco excerpts, Buenza-Delil also keeps things moving, but somewhat frenetically and often at the expense of his singers. Certainly Zampieri's Giovanna does not sound quite as relaxed as her Elvira. But this is one of Verdi's least inspired works, with a title role seemingly more suited to a soprano leggiera. Both tenor and baritone are perfectly adequate.
These excerpts and the opera were recorded in performance, with all the virtues and blemishes this implies. Voices are sometimes distant as singers move away from the recording source, there are many odd thumps, and the audience is sometimes over-enthusiastic with applause. Fortunately, there is no distortion even in concerted passages; and, given the blazing intensity of the performance, it is easy to ignore all these extraneous intrusions. Alas, no libretto and almost no notes; but four rather good photos of the soprano offer some compensation.
Vivian A Liff
THIS REVIEW ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2004 ISSUE (VOL. 67 NO. 6) OF AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE (ARG). IT IS REPRINTED HERE WITH THE KIND PERMISSION OF ARG. FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON ARG, GO TO ITS WEBSITE AT www.americanrecordguide.com.