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.
02 Jun 2005
KILAR: Tryptyk (The Triptych)
Wojciech Kilar (b. 1932) is an exciting composer from Poland, and he may be best known in the West for his film scores, which include Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Polanski’s Death and the Maiden (1994), Campion’s Portrait of a Lady (1996) and others. At the same time, Kilar also composes concert music, and his Tryptyk (1997) is a fine example of his work. Nevertheless, film is a useful point of reference in discussions of his style, since some of the techniques he used in creating effective soundtracks may be found in his other music.
Wojciech Kilar: Tryptyk (The Triptych).
Izabella Klosinska (Soprano), Antoni Wit, conductor, Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus, Polish Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra.
DUX 0484 [CD]
Wojciech Kilar (b. 1932) is an exciting composer from Poland, and he may be best known in the West for his film scores, which include Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Polanski's Death and the Maiden (1994), Campion's Portrait of a Lady (1996) and others. At the same time, Kilar also composes concert music, and his Tryptyk (1997) is a fine example of his work. Nevertheless, film is a useful point of reference in discussions of his style, since some of the techniques he used in creating effective soundtracks may be found in his other music.
Assembled into a single piece for a festival performance of the Wratislavia Kantans (on 16 June 1997 at Mary Magdelene Orthodox Church, Warsaw), Kilar's Tryptyk is essentially a cantata in three movements: (1) Bogurodzica (1975); (2) Angelus (1984); and (3) Exodus (1981). While the individual movements were composed at different times, they fit together well, thus evoking the traditional image of the medieval style of painting an altarpiece as a triptych, where the panels have their own character and yet create a stunning effect when perceived as a unit. Kilar did not create a program for this work, but the religious tone of the texts suggests a sense of spirituality that conveys feelings of hope and, ultimately, triumphant joy.
The final movement is, perhaps, the most evocative, since its structure is based on a gradually increasing intensity of dynamics and scoring. It is a musical procession in the sense of Respighi, whose Pines of Rome contains a comparable, albeit shorter, passage. With Kilar, though, the music unfolds more slowly, which ultimately contributes to the exuberant ending. The sung text is from the Old Testament book of Exodus, and specifically Miriam's song of triumph after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea into safety, with the pursuing Egyptian army drowned when the waters flowed back together. One of the most effective moments is near the end of the piece, when the choral forces shift from sung text to voiced shouts. The change from pitched to unpitched sounds suggests a dramatic scene so that when the music resumes at the end, its return forms a satisfying conclusion with its final "Hosanna."
Such a use of the spoke — or shouted — voice in this movement has a parallel in the second, which begins with the choral recitation of the prayer "Hail Mary" in Polish. It starts softly, with a few voices, and in the numerous repetitions, subtly gains intensity, until the initially humble prayer becomes a vociferous shout. At that point Kilar shifts to traditional sounds, starting with an effective passage for soprano solo. The effect is cinematic and extremely effective, especially when Kilar eventually combines bells and other percussion into his score.
The kind of dramatic shift in timbre that is part of the "Angelus" is crucial to the first movement, the medieval text "Bogurodzica," which is framed by extended passages for percussion. The martial tone of the percussion intersects the vocal music, and the chorus is asked to create ts own percussive sounds as piece begins. After the interplay of these elements, the choral setting of the medieval hymn at the core of this piece is effective in its subtle rendering of the text. It is a dramatic and compelling piece, like the other movements of this remarkable work.
Anton Wit conducts the work, and the musical forces he leads, the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, give a fine performance. The soprano Isabela K