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Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto was the composer’s ﬁfteenth opera, and the ninth to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini (1615-1651). First performed at the Teatro Sant’Apollinaire in Venice on 28th November 1651, the opera by might have been sub-titled ‘Gods Behaving Badly’, so debauched are the deities’ dalliances and deviations, so egotistical their deceptions.
New from Oehms Classics, Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 1. Luxury singers - Valentina Farcas, Klaus Florian Vogt and Michael Volle, with the Staatskapelle Weimar, conducted by Hansjörg Albrecht.
Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the
Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement
violin concerto), the Symphony in G Minor, and perhaps some movements from his
ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.
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.
11 Feb 2005
LULLY: Les Fêtes de l'Amour et de Bacchus
Born in Florence, Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) came to France in 1646 as an Italian tutor to Louis XIV’s cousin Anne-Marie-Louise d’Orléans. Thanks to her, Lully became acquainted with French music, and got to study with several eminent musicians in Paris. In early 1653, he was asked to play several roles in the spectacular Royal Ballet of the Night. His performances caught the eye of King Louis XIV, who immediately appointed the young musician to the post of “Instrumental Music Composer.” Soon, Lully became Louis XIV’s favorite musician — he was appointed to the post of “Master of Music of the Royal Family” in 1662 — and the most important composer in France. Today, Lully is known primarily as the first major composer of French opera. (Unfortunately, he is also remembered for the way he died. In January 1687, Lully stabbed his foot with a cane that he used to beat time, and he succumbed to infections that resulted from this injury.)
Jean-Baptiste Lully: Les Fetes de l'Amour et de Bacchus
Robert Cambert : Pomone
Hugo Reyne, La Simphonie du Marais
Accord 476 2437 [2 CDs]
Born in Florence, Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) came to France in 1646 as an Italian tutor to Louis XIV's cousin Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans. Thanks to her, Lully became acquainted with French music, and got to study with several eminent musicians in Paris. In early 1653, he was asked to play several roles in the spectacular Royal Ballet of the Night. His performances caught the eye of King Louis XIV, who immediately appointed the young musician to the post of "Instrumental Music Composer." Soon, Lully became Louis XIV's favorite musician — he was appointed to the post of "Master of Music of the Royal Family" in 1662 — and the most important composer in France. Today, Lully is known primarily as the first major composer of French opera. (Unfortunately, he is also remembered for the way he died. In January 1687, Lully stabbed his foot with a cane that he used to beat time, and he succumbed to infections that resulted from this injury.)
Over the past seven years, Hugo Reyne and La Simphonie du Marais have been recording Lully's works for Accord, a highly-regarded classical music label in France. This review considers the sixth installment in this series, and it contains premiere recordings of two of the earliest works in the history of French opera. The earlier composition is Pomone by librettist Pierre Perrin (1630-75) and composer Robert Cambert (c. 1628-77). In this five-act opera, Vertumne, the god of autumn, tries to woo Pomone, the goddess of fruits, by disguising himself as Pluto, Bacchus, and Pomone's nurse Beroe. In the end, Vertumne wins Pomone's hand and the work concludes with their wedding. The opera opened to critical acclaim in March 1671, and ran for 146 performances over a period of about seven months. Despite this initial success, the sole remaining source of Pomone contains only the first forty pages of the opera. It cuts off in the middle of the second act.
This release was recorded live in November 2003, and it contains every note of the extant score, which is just over half an hour of music. Throughout, La Simphonie du Marais offers subtly inflected and energetic playing. Outside of occasional ensemble and intonation problems, the singers, especially countertenor Renaud Tripathi, make fine contributions. My main reservations have to do with the work itself. Cambert's music is certainly fluent and pleasant, but it does not contain much variety or character. Having read about this piece in various articles over the years, I am glad that I now have the opportunity to hear it. That said, I don't think I will be returning to it very often.
The second work on this two-CD set is Lully's Les fetes de l'Amour et de Bacchus (The Festivities of Cupid and Bacchus). A pastiche opera in three acts, this work — which consists largely of music from Lully's comedies-ballets — was hastily compiled by Lully and his librettist Philippe Quinault (1635-88) shortly after the composer acquired a royal monopoly to form the Académie Royale de Musique in 1672. Featuring an unusually large cast that includes 15 singing roles, two choruses, two instrumental ensembles, 32 dancing characters, and 11 supernatural characters, Les fetes is at once a celebration of Louis XIV's reign and of idyllic love. Full of elaborate sets, spectacular stage effects and elegant dance sequences, this opera was not only an enormous success during its opening run, but was also revived five times between 1689 and 1738.
This is a highly recommended recording. All the performers execute French Baroque music and its ornamentations with ease and conviction. Françoise Masset and Isabelle Desrochers are especially convincing; they possess fine voices, and sing with energy and intelligence in their multiple roles. La Simphonie du Marais plays with great finesse, flexibility and color (listen to the wonderful effects in the Airs of the Magicians in Act 2). At the same time, Lully's music is always inventive, varied, and full of character. My one quibble is the chorus, which is peculiarly balanced on several occasions. Given the otherwise excellent quality of this recording, one might have to conclude that this was the inevitable result of recording a staged performance. Given the historical importance of these two works, one has to wonder why they were not released on DVD.
Westminster Choir College of Rider University