Recently in Recordings
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.
Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic
selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary
versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano
Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of
songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime
friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at
the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’
In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi.
With celebrations of the Verdi Bicentennial in full swing, there have been
many grumblings about the precarious state of Verdi singing in the world’s
major opera houses today.
In the thirty-five years immediately following its American première at the Metropolitan Opera in 1914, Italo Montemezzi’s ‘Tragic Poem in Three Acts’ L’amore dei tre re was performed in New York on sixty-six occasions.
Few operas inspire the kind of competing affection and controversy that have surrounded Mozart’s Così fan tutte almost since its first performance in Vienna in 1790.
During his career in film, opera, and operetta, Richard Tauber (1891 - 1948) enjoyed the sort of global fame that eludes all but the tiniest handful of ‘serious’ singers today.
Known principally for its two concert show-pieces for the leading lady, the success of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur relies upon finding a soprano willing to take on, and able to pull off, the eponymous role.
It would be condescending and perhaps even offensive to suggest that singing
traditional Spirituals is a rite a passage for artists of color, but the musical heritage of the United States has been greatly enriched by the performances and recordings of Spirituals by important artists such as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks, Florence Quivar, Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, and Denyce Graves.
As a companion to their excellent Great Wagner Singers boxed set
compiled and released in celebration of the Wagner Bicentennial, Deutsche
Grammophon have also released Great Wagner Conductors, a selection of
orchestral music conducted by five of the most iconic Wagnerian conductors of
the Twentieth Century, extracted from Deutsche Grammophon’s extensive
There could be no greater gift to the Wagnerian celebrating the Master’s
Bicentennial than this compilation from Deutsche Grammophon, aptly entitled
Great Wagner Singers.
What better way for Masonic brothers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Emmanuel Shikaneder to disseminate Masonic virtues, than through the most popular musical entertainment of their age, a happy ending folktale that features a dragon, enchanting flutes and bells, mixed-up parentage, and a beautiful young princess in distress?
10 Feb 2005
BUSNOIS: Missa O Crux lignum, Motets, Chansons
The most recent recording by England’s premier performers of Renaissance vocal music, the Orlando Consort, features a selection of works by the renowned fifteenth-century composer Antoine Busnois, works that represent the major genres of music composition of the time — mass, motet, and chanson. The performances are what we have come to expect from the fine singers of the Orlando Consort: warm, vibrant, and precise.
Antoine Busnois: Missa O Crux lignum, Motets, Chansons
harmonia mundi — HMU 907333
The most recent recording by England's premier performers of Renaissance vocal music, the Orlando Consort, features a selection of works by the renowned fifteenth-century composer Antoine Busnois, works that represent the major genres of music composition of the time -- mass, motet, and chanson. The performances are what we have come to expect from the fine singers of the Orlando Consort: warm, vibrant, and precise.
A relatively few facts are known about Busnois' biography. Because he was famous enough during his lifetime for the date to have been recorded, we know when he died: November 6, 1492. The circumstances of his birth are less certain; he was probably born around the year 1430, in or near the small town of Busne (hence, "Busnois") in north-eastern France. From pay records -- and from the text of his famous motet In hydraulis -- we know that Busnois was a musician in the court of Charles the Bold. Busnois' reputation as a composer among his contemporaries was exceeded only by that of Ockeghem, with whom Busnois may have studied. Contemporary composers and poets honored Busnois by including his name in a number of texts and poems, among which is Loyset Compère's motet Omnium bonorum plena, in which Busnois is praised as one of the "masters of song."
Indeed it is Busnois' songs that are probably his most original works, despite their adherence to the poetic formes fixes that were cultivated widely during the fifteenth century: rondeau, bergerette, and ballade. Each type of poem features strict patterns of rhyme and syllabic structure that are reflected musically in the alternation and repetition of two principal sections of music. The songs presented by the Orlando Consort represent all three of the major formes fixes and display the subtleness of Busnois' melodies and the perfection of his counterpoint. Among the chansons included on the recording is a bergerette whose text reveals something about Busnois' personal life: Ja que li ne s'i attende. This is one of four songs by Busnois whose texts refer directly to Jacqueline d'Hacqueville, the wife of a Parisian councilor, with whom Busnois apparently had a romantic dalliance. In the case of Ja que li ne s'i attende, the first four words of the first line of text (Ja que li ne) together make up the first name of Busnois' beloved.
The centerpiece of the recording is Busnois' Missa O Crux lignum, one of only two masses that can be securely attributed to the composer. Busnois' setting of the five major items of the Catholic mass Ordinary -- Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus (with a separate track for the Benedictus section), and Agnus -- is constructed as a typical cantus firmus mass of the time: The melody of the hymn O Crux lignum is placed in the tenor voice in drawn-out notes, while the other voices weave polyphony around it. The polyphonic mass is truly the most elaborate musical form of the period, with a changing variety of meters, voice pairings, and tempo changes, which enliven the complex polyphonic interaction of the four voices. Busnois' mass stands out from its contemporaries in its subtle use of imitation to organize the strands of polyphony, and his frequent passages of parallel thirds and sixths to soften its severity.
The fine performances of the Orlando Consort bring to life Busnois' exquisite music, which has been underrepresented in recent recordings. The close blend of voices in the ensemble is well-suited to Busnois' complex and subtle pieces.
University of Northern Colorado