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.
03 May 2005
“Few tenors today have his ringing top” and “his ringing, clear top” are not exactly qualities one associates with baritenor Placido Domingo, as he has been calling himself for the last ten years. Still, those were the exact words used by critic Peter Hoffer in his reports for Opera Magazine and Opera News on the opening of La Scala for the season 1969-1970. In all honesty, a ringing top à la Corelli is not exactly what one hears on this recording. But there is no hint of a pushed up baritone either. This is 28-year old fresh voiced Domingo with all the beauty and youthful freshness of the middle voice and quite an acceptable top always taking the higher option (A or B-flat) at the end of a solo or a duet. Mr. Domingo has been so long among us that one somewhat has forgotten how meltingly beautiful the young tenor sang, relying on his outstanding vocal gifts.
Giuseppe Verdi: Ernani
Placido Domingo (Ernani); Raina Kabaivanska (Elvira); Nicolai Ghiaurov (Don Ruy Gomez da Silva); Carlo Meliciani (Don Carlo); Giovanna (Milena Pauli); Piero De Palma (Don Riccardo)
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano conducted by Antonino Votto
Live Registation 7.12.1969
MYTO 051304 [2CDs]
"Few tenors today have his ringing top" and "his ringing, clear top" are not exactly qualities one associates with baritenor Placido Domingo, as he has been calling himself for the last ten years. Still, those were the exact words used by critic Peter Hoffer in his reports for Opera Magazine and Opera News on the opening of La Scala for the season 1969-1970. In all honesty, a ringing top à la Corelli is not exactly what one hears on this recording. But there is no hint of a pushed up baritone either. This is 28-year old fresh voiced Domingo with all the beauty and youthful freshness of the middle voice and quite an acceptable top always taking the higher option (A or B-flat) at the end of a solo or a duet. Mr. Domingo has been so long among us that one somewhat has forgotten how meltingly beautiful the young tenor sang, relying on his outstanding vocal gifts.
Original phrasing or deep musical insights (which are barely to be found in the score) never became Domingo's forte though at the time we still had hopes. Nevertheless this is fine singing in difficult circumstances. The year before La Scala had a difficult opening with extreme left demonstrators not shy to use violence. The opening of 1969-1970 was one with a lot of police in and around the house, no flowers in the theatre and no jewelry for the ladies. Moreover this was Domingo's Scala and role début. Inevitably, he was nervous and this shows in his aria where he is at loggerheads with Votto's tempi but he soon relaxes and gives us his golden tone from beginning to end.
His partner is Raina Kabaivanska, by that time a seasoned performer at La Scala who had made her début there 9 years earlier in Beatrice di Tenda. She often has the better of him; somewhat outsinging him during duets or trios. I heard both of them one year later during an impressive Manon Lescaut and he surely didn't have the smaller voice. So this must be a question of balance and I've got the feeling that Kabaivanska with her routine knew the better spots on La Scala's scene from where to hurl her voice into the house and the mikes. Her voice too is pretty, youthful and she always knew how to respect a Verdian line.
This is one of the few recordings with baritone Carlo Meliciani. Piero Cappuccilli had succumbed to flu and he was replaced by this La Scala stalwart (ten years older than Domingo) who often sang in second casts or modern operas. The sound is not to be despised however. Somewhat hesitatingly during the first act, he clearly comes into his own from "Vieni meco" on and gives a magnificent and stylish "O dei verd'anni miei". The voice resembles Benvenuto Franci's rich sound with quite the same vibrato (which I personally like) though without the elder baritone's strength on top (no ending on G). The recording once more teaches us a lesson on the difference between real and recorded sound: Meliciano's decibels are impressive and yet the same Opera News critic writes "a voice lacking in weight for this theatre", an opinion I can only concur with as he didn't make an unforgettable impression on me when I heard him two years later at the Verona arena.
One who has the voice in both the theatre and the studio is Nicolai Ghiaurov as Silva using his fine instrument in an impressive way showing off an exemplary legato. Conductor Antonino Votto doesn't let the music go slack and lets conductor purism not get the better of his judgment; therefore we get interpolated high notes and Silva's cabaletta "Infin che un brando vindice", rousingly sung by the bass even though it is suspected that Verdi was not the composer. Muti would never have allowed it and indeed had it cut out in his 1982 recording. In the official EMI-set, Domingo and especially Ghiaurov have lost some of the sheen on their voices and therefore admirers of both singers will do well to purchase this recording under review.