Recently in Recordings
Paul Dukas’ Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, first heard in 1907, once seemed important. Arturo Toscanini conducted the Met premiere in 1911 with Farrar and later arranged some of its music for a 1947 recording with his NBC Symphony.
The economics of the recording companies dictate much that is not ideal.
Wagner’s operas were not composed as they were in order to permit the
extraction of bleeding chunks, even on those occasions when strophic song forms
Among the recent recordings of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Valery Gergiev’s release on the LSO Live label is an excellent addition to the discography of this work.
While not unknown, the songs of Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871-1942) deserve to be heard more frequently.
Recorded on 5 and 6 May 2008 and 17 and 18 January 2009 at the Lisztzentrum (Raiding, Austria), this recent Bridge release makes available the piano-vocal versions of three song cycles by Gustav Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert-Lieder, and Kindertotenlieder performed by mezzo-soprano Hermine Haselböck, accompanied by Russell Ryan.
Contraltos rarely achieve the acclaim and renown of sopranos. Assigned few leading roles in opera, they are condemned to playing the villain or the grandmother, or to stealing the castrati’s trousers in en travesti roles.
Following their 2011 Decca recording of Striggio’s Mass in 40 Parts (1566), I Fagiolini continue their quest to unearth lost treasures of the High Renaissance and early Baroque, with this collection of world-premiere recordings, ‘reconstructions’ and ‘reconstitutions’ of music by Giovanni and Andrea Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Palestrina, and their less well-known compatriots Viadana, Barbarino and Soriano.
Eternal Echoes is an album of khazones [Jewish cantorial music] for cantorial soloist, solo violin and a blended instrumental ensemble comprising a small orchestra and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.
Michael Tilson Thomas’s recording of Mahler’s Third Symphony is an outstanding contribution to the composer’s discography.
Oliver Knussen burst into British music with an unprecedented flourish. In 1967, the London Symphony Orchestra premiered Knussen’s First Symphony, with István Kertész scheduled to conduct.
Based on performances given in Summer 2010 at the Lucerne Festival, this recording of Beethoven’s Fidelio is an admirable recording that captures the vitality of the work as conducted by Claudio Abbado.
Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) was one of the most popular composers of his day in Poland, and of the many works he wrote for the stage, two are performed from time to time, Halka (1848) and Strazny dwór [The Haunted Manor] (1865).
The Polish alto Jadwiga Rappé is a familiar voice in various stage and concert works, and the recent release of a selection of songs by Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) is an opportunity to hear her performing artsongs.
Originally released on multiple discs in 1981 this reissue on two CDs is a comprehensive collection of art songs by Italian and French composers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
An exciting contribution to the discography of this popular opera, the live performance of Richard Strauss’s Salome from the Festspielhaus at Baden-Baden is a compelling DVD.
Released in late 2011, Deutsche Grammophon’s DVD of the new staging of Berg’s Lulu at the Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona is an excellent contribution to the discography of this fascinating opera.
A recent release by the Metropolitan Opera, this two-disc set makes available on DVD the famous performance of Berg’s Lulu that was broadcast on 20 December 1980 as part of the PBS series “Live from the Met.”
The novels of Sinclair Lewis once shot across the American literary skies like comets, alarming and fascinating readers of that era, but their tails didn’t extend far behind them.
Once the province of only the most dedicated opera fanatics, mid-20th century recordings of privately taped live performances have become more widely available.
Flute players in opera orchestra around the world must look forward to the frequent appearances of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, knowing that while the stage spotlight in the mad scene will be on the soprano, the orchestral spotlight will be on their instrument.
21 Mar 2005
Maria Cebotari sings Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Strauß and Gounod
So often we get wrapped up in today’s world of great performers that we forget the performers of the past who, directly or indirectly, influenced these performers and shaped the characters they play. Not one singer today can boast working side by side with Richard Strauss or living in Puccini’s heyday, but Maria Cebotari (1910-1949) could. Thanks to a brilliant re-mastered recording by Hänssler Classic, we are now able to take part in signature performances of a woman who is known as the “predecessor” to Maria Callas.
Maria Cebotari sings Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Strauss and Gounod
Living Voices Series
Hänssler Classic 94502 [CD]
So often we get wrapped up in today's world of great performers that we forget the performers of the past who, directly or indirectly, influenced these performers and shaped the characters they play. Not one singer today can boast working side by side with Richard Strauss or living in Puccini's heyday, but Maria Cebotari (1910-1949) could. Thanks to a brilliant re-mastered recording by Hänssler Classic, we are now able to take part in signature performances of a woman who is known as the "predecessor" to Maria Callas.
Born in Russia-Bessarabia, Cebotari discovered a singing voice at the age of four, and began singing solos in the church choir and entered the local conservatory at the age of fourteen. Discovered by Count Alexander Virubov, an actor and manager of a Moscow touring theater company, he and Cebotari fell in love and married in Paris. After only three months of intensive vocal study with Oscar Daniel, Cebotari received a three-year contract in Dresden with Fritz Busch. At the age of twenty-one, she debuted at the Semperoper as Mimi in La Bohème in 1931. She also performed in modern operas and created roles in operas by d'Albert, Lothar, Heger and Sutermeister. Her most important creation was Aminta in Richard Strauss' Die Schweigsame Frau, as the composer was a great admirer of the young singer.
Like her whirlwind debut, Cebotari reined the opera world for only eighteen years, dying of liver cancer in 1949. Surprisingly, most of the arias chosen for the Hänssler Classic CD are those recorded near her death. Thomas Voigt asks, "Can one listen to those lines in Maria Cebotari's recording of Ariadne's monologue without being moved by the fact that the soprano died of cancer at the age of 39, especially if one knows that the recording was made only months before her death?"
Cebotari's voice is an amazingly flexible instrument, displaying florid virtuosity and bell-like tone in Konstanze's "Martern aller Arten" while also executing powerful drama and vocal range in Ariadne's "Es gibt ein Reich." Her rendition of Cio-Cio-San's "Un bel di vedremo" is an extremely sensitive and moving interpretation. Unlike meatier sopranos, Cebotari has a slightly lighter weight for Puccini and Verdi, yet this allows for a more buoyant line and freedom to execute an expressive range with florid portamenti. Both Mozart's Countess Almaviva and Konstanze are jewels for her lyric voice. Her dynamics run along a smooth continuum of warm, honeyed tone and excited breath, which proves for a flawless performance both vocally and expressively.
Hänssler Classic's "Maria Cebotari" is an excellent way to broaden your library, adding yet another interpretation which is that much closer to the original performance of the opera or aria. This recording might even inspire you to reevaluate your favorite performers of the twentieth century!