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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.
25 Jan 2005
SCHUBERT: Alfonso und Estrella
New artists are taking greater chances with repertory, looking for niches to call their own. Dawn Upshaw explores new music, Cecilia Bartoli eighteenth-century Italian song, and in this live recording up-and-coming artists Eva Mei and Rainer Trost take on the lead roles in Schubert’s Alfonso und Estrella. Mei and Trost’s sympathetic singing with the orchestra and chorus of the Teatro lirico di Cagliari conducted by Gérard Korsten breathes life into this choppy opera, which Liszt famously condemned as a work of only historical interest.
Franz Schubert, Alfonso und Estrella
Eva Mei, soprano - Rainer Trost, tenor - Markus Werba, baritone - Alfred Muff, bass - Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Lirico di Cagliari - Gérard Korsten, conductor - Luca Ronconi, director
Dynamic CDS 451/1-2 [2CDs]
New artists are taking greater chances with repertory, looking for niches to call their own. Dawn Upshaw explores new music, Cecilia Bartoli eighteenth-century Italian song, and in this live recording up-and-coming artists Eva Mei and Rainer Trost take on the lead roles in Schubert's Alfonso und Estrella. Mei and Trost's sympathetic singing with the orchestra and chorus of the Teatro lirico di Cagliari conducted by Gérard Korsten breathes life into this choppy opera, which Liszt famously condemned as a work of only historical interest.
Long a source of head scratching for music historians, Schubert operas remain relatively unloved and unheard. He composed three operas, six singspiele, incidental music to Rosamunde, and a three-act melodrama, Die Zauberharfe, some of which were never completed. The master of the song found little success in the aria. Arguably, Schubert was best suited for the miniature, songs and piano works, while he was not at the top of his game in opera and the symphony — a bit like Paul Simon and his Caveman. While their songs abound in nuance, their theatrical works lack drama.
Schubert composed Alfonso und Estrella during the autumn of 1821, with a libretto by Franz von Schober, his friend, jack-of-all-trades, and no Da Ponte. They toiled together happily during a getaway to St. Pölten, outside Vienna. On their return they could not find a theater to perform the three-act opera about young love overcoming warring factions. Famous singers, including Anna Milder-Hauptmann, gingerly avoided the project, while Michael Vogl openly knocked it.
Soprano Eva Mei is no stranger to Rossini, Schubert's popular contemporary. She has triumphed in La cambiale di matrimonio and Il barbiere di Siviglia. In addition, she has delighted audiences on stage in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and Strauss's Four Last Songs. Trost is best known for his delectable Mozart, (Don Ottavio, Tito and Tamino), showing promise singing at the Met and Covent Garden.
Together their voices bring to light the most convincing numbers in Alfonso und Estrella. After a dullish overture, songs and recitatives, and intrusive choruses, we are treated to the lovely aria O wenn ich je dir wert gewesen, performed with subtle mastery by Mei. Mei pinches some of the high notes and relishes the low ones. Her capable coloratura is humbled by the fact that Schubert has given her few songs to sing that the chorus does not barge in on. Her musicality is highlighted in her ability to blend her voice with Trost's in the spirited duets that close out Act One. Mei and Trost are also perfectly compatible in the charming duet of Act Two, Lass dir als Erinn'rung zeichen. Trost is given little space to shine in this opera. In the short Wenn ich dich Holde sehe, he completes vocal gymnastics smoothly amid the Viennese trifles. He has a bright tenor voice and like Mei gives an intelligent performance. He also possesses fine vocal control and a gift for timbre.
The other roles are nicely interpreted, particularly Jochen Schmeckenbecher's majestic baritone as Mauregato. The choir sounds beautifully throughout and the orchestra remains steady in its challenging role as both accompanist and early German vehicle for the drama in this appealing recording.
Lewis & Clark College