Recently in Recordings
In May 2016, Opera Rara gave Bellini aficionados a treat when they gave a concert performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, at the Barbican Hall. The preceding week had been spent in the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, and this recording, released last month, is a very welcome addition to Opera Rara’s bel canto catalogue.
Jonas Kaufmann Mahler Das Lied von der Erde is utterly unique but also works surprisingly well as a musical experience. This won't appeal to superficial listeners, but will reward those who take Mahler seriously enough to value the challenge of new perspectives.
A new recording, made late last year, Morfydd Owen : Portrait of a Lost Icon, from Tŷ Cerdd, specialists in Welsh music, reveals Owen as one of the more distinctive voices in British music of her era : a grand claim but not without foundation. To this day, Owen's tally of prizes awarded by the Royal Academy of Music remains unrivalled.
The Feast at Solhaug : Henrik Ibsen's play Gildet paa Solhaug (1856) inspired Wilhelm Stenhammer's opera Gillet på Solhaug. The world premiere recording is now available via Sterling CD, in a 3 disc set which includes full libretto and background history.
Honours yet again to Oehms Classics who understand the importance of excellence. A composer as good, and as individual, as Walter Braunfels deserves nothing less.
‘Can great music be inspired by the throw of the dice?’ asks Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars, in his liner notes to the ensemble’s new recording of Josquin’s Missa Di dadi (The Dice Mass). The fifteenth-century artist certainly had an abundant supply of devotional imagery. As one scholar has put it, during this age there was neither ‘an object nor an action, however trivial, that [was] not constantly correlated with Christ or salvation’.
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.
24 Apr 2005
“Fly, Thought, on Golden Wings” — Verdi’s Life told by Thomas Hampson
With a running time of 60 minutes, this DVD biographic feature on Verdi’s life might possibly be a satisfactory introductory piece for the newcomer to the great man and his art. Even then, the knowledge gained would barely form an outline to be filled in by much more study. However, if one would like a pretty travelogue of the sights and landscapes of Verdi’s Italian roots (with a side trip to Paris), plus a little time joining Thomas Hampson in admiring his own handsome self, Euroarts has a treat in store.
"Fly, Thought, on Golden Wings" — Verdi's Life told by Thomas Hampson
A film by Felix Breisach
Euroarts DVD 2051047
With a running time of 60 minutes, this DVD biographic feature on Verdi's life might possibly be a satisfactory introductory piece for the newcomer to the great man and his art. Even then, the knowledge gained would barely form an outline to be filled in by much more study. However, if one would like a pretty travelogue of the sights and landscapes of Verdi's Italian roots (with a side trip to Paris), plus a little time joining Thomas Hampson in admiring his own handsome self, Euroarts has a treat in store.
The film has a simple format - Hampson in voice-over tells the story of Verdi's life, in chronological fashion, while the camera pans the countryside near his hometown or the streets of whatever city his career took him to. The film is attractive and high quality, although everything tends to look just a bit too neat and pretty. From time to time Hampson appears on screen, seated in a church pew or leaning against a column, to intone some passably profound commentary.
Most of that commentary, besides running through the basic facts of Verdi's life, focuses on economic/social class issues, and not without interest. As delineated by the narration, Verdi's life epitomizes the dictum, "Living well is the best revenge." Feeling the humbleness of his roots, from his youth Verdi searches out ways to use his innate musical gifts to push his way up the social ladder. The crowning glory for him, therefore, is to build his beautiful home in his hometown and have it become larger and more magnificent than any of those inhabited by the local aristocracy who had apparently patronized him.
The quotes selected from Verdi himself tend to emphasize his brittle, cranky side, especially as regards his sojourns in Paris, trying to find that first big success outside his native Italy. Although not exactly focusing on "feet of clay," the film does tend to downplay the love and respect the man engendered, or at least it does until the description of his death.
The DVD cover trumpets the inclusion of four arias sung by Hampson. These are slipped in with no meaningful introduction. The four selections, in fact, come from Hampson's 2001 EMI release Verdi Arias, and Hampson, understandably, rather stiffly lip-synchs to the tracks. The Hampson voice glows with its fine amber tone through key arias from I due Foscari, Macbeth, Trovatore, (actually, sung in French), and Traviata. One can certainly question, however, what it means to have Verdi's art, best understood when heard with singers, confined to four baritone arias. The rest of the music offered is instrumental - the film opens, rather oddly, with the Traviata prelude over a beautiful scene of birches emerging from shallow water. Only the director, however, can explain why Rossini's overture to Barbiere appears early on, with no identification whatsoever.
The review copy came with no documentation of any kind other than the sparse info offered on front and back covers. The DVD has no subtitles, and so can only be recommended to English speakers. Finally, as a bonus, there is a brief trailer for an Aida staged at the Pyramids, with horses and elephants in numbers to make Zeffirelli die of jealousy. The tacky splendor of the scene can barely be described. Unfortunately, no singing is heard from a cast whose names were unfamiliar to your reviewer.
Only if the price for this DVD reflects its brief running time and lack of features should it be considered, and only then, as stated in the introduction, for those who need a brief, simple understanding of who this "Verdi" is. Other than that, this Euroarts DVD offers too little for even a modest investment of money or time.
Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy