Recently in Recordings
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.
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!