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Recently in Recordings

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV recreated at Versailles

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV, with Ensemble Pygmalion, conducted by Raphaël Pichon now on DVD/Blu -ray from Harmonia Mundi. This captures the historic performance at the Chapelle Royale de Versailles in November 2015, on the 300th anniversary of the King's death.

Tenebræ Responsories
recording by Stile Antico

Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories are designed to occupy the final three days of Holy Week, and contemplate the themes of loss, betrayal and death that dominate the Easter week. As such, the Responsories demand a sense of darkness, reflection and depth that this new recording by Stile Antico - at least partially - captures.

Mahler Symphony no 9, Daniel Harding SRSO

Mahler Symphony no 9 in D major, with Daniel Harding conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, new from Harmonia Mundi. A rewarding performance on many levels, not least because it's thoughtfully sculpted, connecting structure to meaning.

A Splendid Italian Spoken-Dialogue Opera: De Giosa’s Don Checco

Never heard of Nicola De Giosa (1819-85), a composer who was born in Bari (a town on the Adriatic, near the heel of Italy), but who spent most of his career in Naples? Me, neither!

Winterreise by Mark Padmore

Schubert's Winterreise is almost certainly the most performed Lieder cycle in the repertoire. Thousands of performances and hundreds of recordings ! But Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout's recording for Harmonia Mundi is proof of concept that the better the music the more it lends itself to re-discovery and endless revelation.

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Bohuslav Martinů

New recording of the English version of Bohuslav Martinů's The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Supraphon, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck. This is the world premiere recording of the text in English, the original language in which it was written.

Maybe the Best L’heure espagnole Yet

The new recording, from Munich, has features in common with one from Stuttgart that I greatly enjoyed and reviewed here: the singers are all native French-speakers, the orchestra is associated with a German radio channel, we are hearing an actual performance (or in this case an edited version from several performances, in April 2016), and the recording is released by the orchestra itself or its institutional parent.

Stéphanie d’Oustrac in Two Exotic Masterpieces by Maurice Ravel

The two works on this CD make an apt and welcome pair. First we have Ravel’s sumptuous three-song cycle about the mysteries of love and fantasies of exotic lands. Then we have his one-act opera that takes place in a land that, to French people at the time, was beckoningly exotic, and whose title might be freely translated “The Nutty and Delightful Things That Can Happen in Spain in Just One Hour”.

Stefano Secco: Crescendo

I had never heard of Stefano Secco before receiving this CD. But I see that, at age 34, he already has had a substantial career, singing major roles at important houses throughout Europe and, while I was not paying attention, occasionally in the US.

French orientalism : songs and arias, Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages : visions of the exotic East, a selection of French opera arias and songs from Sabine Devieilhe, with Alexandre Tharaud and Les Siècles conducted by François-Xavier Roth, new from Erato

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,



24 May 2005

Ivan Kozlovsky: The Great Russian Tenor

This new release from Pearl presents an anthology of Russian selections, primarily operatic, performed by tenor Ivan Kozlovsky (1900-1993). Kozlovsky was one of the giants of the Russian operatic stage during its glory days in the 1940s and 50s; he recorded extensively with Melodiya, both Russian and Western repertoire. Surprisingly, however, there has apparently never been a Kozlovsky Russian anthology available prior to this release (Myto Records released a collection of the singer’s Western operatic hits in 2000). It is gratifying to see it finally here.

Ivan Kozlovsky: The Great Russian Tenor
Pearl GEM 0221

This new release from Pearl presents an anthology of Russian selections, primarily operatic, performed by tenor Ivan Kozlovsky (1900-1993). Kozlovsky was one of the giants of the Russian operatic stage during its glory days in the 1940s and 50s; he recorded extensively with Melodiya, both Russian and Western repertoire. Surprisingly, however, there has apparently never been a Kozlovsky Russian anthology available prior to this release (Myto Records released a collection of the singer's Western operatic hits in 2000). It is gratifying to see it finally here.

The singer is featured in some of his signature roles: Berendei (Rimsky-Korsakov, Snow Maiden), Sinodal (Rubinstein, Demon), Levko (Rimsky-Korsakov, May Night), Vladimir Igorevich (Borodin, Prince Igor), Bayan (Glinka, Ruslan and Liudmila), Indian Guest (Rimsky-Korsakov, Sadko), Prince (Dargomïaut;zhsky, Rusalka), Vladimir (Napravnik, Dubrovsky), and of course Lensky (Tchaikovsky, Eugene Onegin) and the Holy Fool (Mussorgsky, Boris Godunov). A rendition of Rachmaninov's popular art song "Ne poi krasavitsa" ("Oh cease thy singing, maiden fair," op. 4 no. 4), and the same composer's rarely heard setting of Pimen's monologue from Pushkin's Boris Godunov are also included.

The recordings are beautifully remastered, and date from ca. 1947-1953, when the singer was at the height of his vocal power, his fame, and his great rivalry with his colleague at the Bolshoi, Sergei Lemeshev. Perhaps the most overwhelming first impression is Kozlovsky's sound — beautifully lush, full, and rich in overtones, its endless lyrical flow rendered with astonishing flexibility and control, despite occasional tension in the upper register. His diction and phrasing are impeccable. Musical purists should not expect a meticulous approach to the score, however — tempo fluctuations, dramatic rests, and other examples of the old-style operatic "editorializing" abound. For traditional "white tenor" roles represented on Pearl's recording, see primarily the two popular selections from Eugene Onegin, "I love you" and "Whither, whither," as well as a cavatina from Rusalka and an aria from May Night.

Perhaps the most recognizable quality of Kozlovsky's timbre is its slightly narrow, almost reed-like quality, with an ever-present vibrato. An object of unkind jokes late in his life, on these early recordings this tone color is more of an idiosyncrasy that makes for some truly unique interpretations. It is particularly noticeable in the "oriental" selections the singer performs — arias and art songs that evoke an image of exotic "Asian" Russia through gently undulating harmonies, rich ornamentation, and yes, the sound of the solo reeds — oboe, bassoon, and English horn. Look especially for the "Song of the Indian Guest" extolling the treasures of the mysterious East, the aria of young Vladimir Igorevich luxuriating in love with a Polovtsian beauty, the exotic romance of Prince Sinodal, and a passionate appeal to a Georgian maiden by Rachmaninov's unnamed protagonist.

Another notable trait of Kozlovsky's talent is its remarkable versatility in handling not only lyrical, but also character parts. This comes across particularly well in an anthology of excerpts from Russian operas in which, after all, a tenor is rarely the leading man. The singer creates memorable images of old sages — the ancient bard Bayan in Ruslan, and the wise sun-worshipper Tsar Berendei in the Snow Maiden (represented, unfortunately, by his second, less interesting cavatina). The Holy Fool in Boris Godunov is perhaps Kozlovsky's most internationally acclaimed role; Pearl includes an excerpt from the St Basil Scene, complete with the choruses and an appearance by Alexander Pirogov as Boris. For those taken with this selection, the complete recording of the opera (with Nikolai Golovanov conducting) is available from Opera D'oro; Vera Stroeva's 1954 outstanding film version with the same cast is currently out on DVD.

All in all, fans of Kozlovsky's art and connoisseurs of traditional bel canto singing style will no doubt be delighted with the new recording. I would particularly encourage those who are only familiar with the singer's late records, on which his previously incredible control is weakened, while the notorious vibrato is more pronounced, to hear the Pearl selections. A truly great tenor waits to be rediscovered.

Olga Haldey
University of Missouri at Columbia

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