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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.
07 Feb 2005
While a number of fine recent recordings of Mahler’s Lieder with orchestral accompaniment have been released in recent years, his songs are also of interest in the versions the composer made for voice and piano. In presenting the songs with piano accompaniment, Stephan Genz and Roger Vignoles bring out details that can become apparent only in this setting. Genz is known for his fine recordings of Lieder, include the award-winning CD of Beethoven’s Songs, as well as various recordings of Hugo Wolf’s Lieder (all on Hyperion). In this recording of Mahler’s music, he performs with Vignoles three complete sets of Lieder, that is, the cycles Lieder eines farhrenden Gesellen and Kindertotenlieder, as well as the set of Fünf Rückert-Lieder and, further, seven selections of settings from Mahler’s early publication of Lieder und Gesänge.
Stephan Genz, baritone; Roger Vignoles, piano.
Hyperion CD A67392
While a number of fine recent recordings of Mahler's Lieder with orchestral accompaniment have been released in recent years, his songs are also of interest in the versions the composer made for voice and piano. In presenting the songs with piano accompaniment, Stephan Genz and Roger Vignoles bring out details that can become apparent only in this setting. Genz is known for his fine recordings of Lieder, include the award-winning CD of Beethoven's Songs, as well as various recordings of Hugo Wolf's Lieder (all on Hyperion). In this recording of Mahler's music, he performs with Vignoles three complete sets of Lieder, that is, the cycles Lieder eines farhrenden Gesellen and Kindertotenlieder, as well as the set of Fünf Rückert-Lieder and, further, seven selections of settings from Mahler's early publication of Lieder und Gesänge.
Genz's approach to Mahler's early songs, as with his other recordings of Lieder, demonstrates his sensitivity to the text through consistently excellent diction and sense of musical line. In the early song "Hans und Grete," the articulation of "Ringel, ringel Reih'n!" echoes the accompaniment before proceeding with the principal melodic line; likewise, his enunciation of the exclamation of "Juchhe!" is tastefully controlled and avoids caricature. Yet when the music demands a more extroverted sound, Genz shows a full and solid tone that rings memorably. His exuberant performance of the Wunderhorn setting "Scheiden und Meiden" (which Mahler adapted from "Drei Reiter am Thor") makes one wonder why other singers have not made as much of this fine song, as well as some of the others selected for this CD.
With the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Genz and Vignoles work together as if they were performing chamber music. The various emotions depicted in the songs emerge clearly from the performers' sensitivity to dynamic levels and phrasing. In fact, the ensemble that they create is essential to their engaging interpretation of Mahler's Kindertotenlieder, which is intense because of the way the vocal line is handed off elegantly to the piano throughout the five songs of this cycle. Vignoles shapes his part as if he himself were singing, such that the lyricism of the first song "Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n" stems from the voice and piano working together. Some passages of "Nun seh' ich wohl" have a sense of rubato that underscores the text so that it conveys the poetry clearly, without lapsing into shapeless declamation. This stands in contrast to the steady rhythm Genz uses for "Wenn dein Mutterlein," which benefits from understatement. At the same time, "In diesem Wetter" is notable for the subtlety that makes this final song convincing, as Genz and Vignoles pace the climax of the song and with it, bring the entire cycle, to its poignant conclusion.
For those who know the music, the recordings of the Kindertotenlieder and the Fünf Rückert-Lieder contain nuances that are worth rehearing. "Um Mitternacht" is tellingly triumphant, and "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" is a notworthy interpretation of which must be one of Mahler's most familiar songs. In fact, the entirety of this recording bears consideration for the consistently fine interpretations of all the Lieder selected for the CD.
Roger Vignoles contributed some excellent notes to accompany the recording, and his insights into the Lieder are worth reading for their pithy insights into interpreting the songs with piano accompaniment. In addition, the full German texts of all the Lieder are provided, along with translations in English. Vignoles' notes are translated into both German and French.
James L. Zychowicz
Click here for recording details, an excerpt of the sleeve notes and an audio sample.