Recently in Recordings
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?
Since its first performance at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo during Venice’s 1643 Carnevale, Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea has been one of the most important milestones in the genesis of modern opera despite its 250 years of unmerited obscurity.
Though 2013 is the bicentennial of the births of Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner, the releases of Cecilia Bartoli’s recording of Bellini’s Norma on DECCA, a new studio recording of Donizetti’s Caterina Cornaro from Opera Rara, and this première recording of Saverio Mercadante’s forgotten I due Figaro, suggest that this is the start of a summer of bel canto.
Recording Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen is for a
record label equivalent to a climber reaching the summit of Mount Everest: it is the zenith from which a label surveys its position among its rivals and appreciates an achievement that can define its reputation for a generation.
04 Apr 2005
Feodor Chaliapin sings Russian folk songs
This new release from Hänssler Classics presents an anthology of live and studio performances by the Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938), undoubtedly one of the greatest singers in recorded history. The title of the album, “Feodor Chaliapin sings Russian Folk Songs,” is somewhat misleading. Apart from traditional songs such as “Mashenka,” “Eh, Van’ka,” and “Down the Volga,” the recording includes arrangements of 19th-century popular songs such as “Dubinushka,” “Down the Peterskaya,” and the perennial Gypsy favorite “Black Eyes,” as well as a selection of salon romances, art songs, and ballads by Mikhail Glinka, Alexander Dargomïzhsky, Anton Rubinstein, and Modest Musorgsky, among others. Most of the selections on the new CD have been previously released on various labels, with the possible exception of “Dubinushka,” which I have not been able to find among the recordings currently available. Hence, avid Chaliapin collectors should be aware that the Hänssler release offers little if anything new to them. Those music lovers still unacquainted with Chaliapin’s art, however, or those whose exposure to this singer has been limited to his opera recordings, would find this album a great insight into a spectacular voice and a unique artistic persona.
Feodor Chaliapin sings Russian folk songs
Living Voices Series
Hänssler Classic 945040 [CD]
This new release from Hänssler Classics presents an anthology of live and studio performances by the Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938), undoubtedly one of the greatest singers in recorded history. The title of the album, "Feodor Chaliapin sings Russian Folk Songs," is somewhat misleading. Apart from traditional songs such as "Mashenka," "Eh, Van'ka," and "Down the Volga," the recording includes arrangements of 19th-century popular songs such as "Dubinushka," "Down the Peterskaya," and the perennial Gypsy favorite "Black Eyes," as well as a selection of salon romances, art songs, and ballads by Mikhail Glinka, Alexander Dargomïaut;zhsky, Anton Rubinstein, and Modest Musorgsky, among others. Most of the selections on the new CD have been previously released on various labels, with the possible exception of "Dubinushka," which I have not been able to find among the recordings currently available. Hence, avid Chaliapin collectors should be aware that the Hänssler release offers little if anything new to them. Those music lovers still unacquainted with Chaliapin's art, however, or those whose exposure to this singer has been limited to his opera recordings, would find this album a great insight into a spectacular voice and a unique artistic persona.
Feodor Chaliapin's 45-year career has been tied for the most part to the operatic stage. Born near Kazan on the Volga river, he first joined an operatic troupe in Tiflis (now Tbilisi, Georgia), and later performed on various stages in St Petersburg. In 1896, the 24-year-old singer made a decision that would change his life and catapult him to stardom: he agreed to join the troupe of the Moscow Private Opera created, sponsored, and directed by art patron and railway tycoon Savva Mamontov (1841-1918). At this company, Chaliapin developed the classic roles of his repertoire, including Susanin (Glinka, Life for the Tsar), Mephistopheles (Gounod, Faust), the Miller (Dargomïaut;zhsky, Rusalka), Prince Galitsky (Borodin, Prince Igor), Nilakantha (Delibes, Lakmé), the Varangian Guest (Rimsky-Korsakov, Sadko), Dosifey (Musorgsky, Khovanshchina), and Boris (Musorgsky, Boris Godunov). The singer befriended a group of modernist painters associated with the company who revolutionized his ideas on costume, props, make-up, facial expression, and stage movement. He was also exposed to Mamontov's own innovative vision of fusing opera and drama on stage — a vision that also influenced Konstantin Stanislavsky's concept of method acting. By the time Chaliapin entered the stage of the Imperial Bolshoi Theater in Moscow only three years later, he was already a fully formed, unique creative artist that the world came to know during the remainder of his international career.
In Russia, meanwhile, Feodor Chaliapin's reputation extended far beyond the walls of the opera houses in which he performed. He was known to people in the barracks and universities, factories and street markets - people of all walks of life, including those who had never in their lives attended an opera performance. During the revolutionary uprising of 1905-07, and later in the years following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Chaliapin — a rich dandy known to enjoy the wealth that came with his stardom — was seen performing charity concerts in front of thousands of people in factories and shipyards. He sang folk lyrical songs like "Eh, Van'ka" and "Mashenka," traditional robber and Cossack ballads such as "Stenka Razin" and "The Legend of the Twelve Brigands," and revolutionary songs, including the ever-popular "Dubinushka," a frequent encore. A unique aspect of the singer's approach to his material was a natural, almost nonchalant, conversational manner of performance, with his voice casually traveling the gamut between singing and ordinary speech. Even while performing art songs, Chaliapin's sometimes controversial interpretations tend to stray away from the score to infuse the music with the unique dramatic power of his personality. Rare among classically trained singers, this approach proved particularly conducive to performing the folk and popular songs Chaliapin recorded throughout his career — a living tradition that thrives on improvisation and expressive freedom. A recording of Feodor Chaliapin singing this repertory is therefore a must in any opera lover's collection.
University of Missouri-Columbia