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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.
Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and
Carolyn Sampson has long avoided the harsh glare of stardom but become a favourite singer for “those in the know” — and if you are not one of those it is about time you were.
This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.
This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.
We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.
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.
05 Jun 2005
SCHUBERT: Die Schöne Müllerin
In some circles, Bostridge isn’t fashionable, perhaps because he achieved success so early, because he didn’t come up through the choirboy route, and, perhaps, most of all because he is so startlingly different. But those with a real interest in intelligent music making would do well to ignore the clichés and really listen to this. It’s an experience to change most perceptions of the cycle, and indeed of Schubert. This is no quaint bucolic romp. The protagonist kills himself, doomed even before he meets the girl. As Bostridge points out, the poet Wilhelm Müller said it should be “im Winter zu lessen.” The songs refer to Maytime and blossoms, but since Nature itself is destructive, this is just seductive sham. This cycle is to read in the spirit of a harsh Prussian winter, not an innocent Austrian spring. Schubert picked up on the inner meaning of Müller’s poetry because he had himself just been diagnosed with syphilis — the AIDS of his era. He had no bucolic delusions. He knew only too well that Nature can turn love into death.
Franz Schubert : Die Schöne Müllerin.
Ian Bostridge, tenor; Mitsuko Uchida, piano.
Recorded December 2003, Lyndhurst Hall, London.
EMI Classics 5 57827 2 [CD]
In some circles, Bostridge isn't fashionable, perhaps because he achieved success so early, because he didn't come up through the choirboy route, and, perhaps most of all, because he is so startlingly different. But those with a real interest in intelligent music making would do well to ignore the clichés and really listen to this. It's an experience to change most perceptions of the cycle, and indeed of Schubert. This is no quaint bucolic romp. The protagonist kills himself, doomed even before he meets the girl. As Bostridge points out, the poet Wilhelm Müller said it should be "im Winter zu lessen." The songs refer to Maytime and blossoms, but since Nature itself is destructive, this is just seductive sham. This cycle is to read in the spirit of a harsh Prussian winter, not an innocent Austrian spring. Schubert picked up on the inner meaning of Müller's poetry because he had himself just been diagnosed with syphilis — the AIDS of his era. He had no bucolic delusions. He knew only too well that Nature can turn love into death.
Bostridge has gone far beyond tradition, back to the root issues in the music. No wonder he disturbs the conventional! Yet his understanding of the background is authoritative, well researched and psychologically unassailable. This is the version that comes closest perhaps to what Schubert and Müller might have felt, yet also resounds for us, who live in the 21st century. The only precedent is the recording by Matthias Goerne and Alfred Brendel, which scandalised many. Goerne's reading focussed on the psychopathology of the teenage suicide, a haunting analysis into the depths of a broken mind — a Wozzeck Schöne Müllerin, perhaps. Bostridge keeps scrupulously faithful to the score, and his interpretation fits better with the period. Romanticism, with its interest in the irrational, swept away the certainties of the Age of Reason. Gothic horror was an attempt to deal with the subconscious, the beginnings of a more questioning sensibility. The Romantics hadn't discovered "psychology" as such but expressed dark feelings in terms of the supernatural. Bostridge appreciates the link between this cycle and Erlkönig. Nobody does supernatural better than Bostridge. Hans Werner Henze was so fascinated by Bostridge's ability to express wild, transfixed emotion intuitively, he wrote the remarkable Sechs Gesänge aus dem Arabischen for him. Others have performed that cycle, but none come anywhere near its horrifying, otherworldly mystery.
Uchida's playing may seem dominant in comparison with more self effacing accompanists, but this is precisely the point, in this interpretation. The brook is a malevolent, elemental entity, with a will of its own, far stronger than any mortal. Her playing is, appropriately, demonic, despite the deliberately coy moments of lyricism. Bostridge has journeyed far from his seminal Die Schöne Müllerin for Hyperion so many years ago. His voice has deepened and rounded out in the lower ranges, and he is more assured. The last few years have brought out a steely firmness of character, which shows in his decisive diction and phrasing. He's learned not to push emphases too far, and to let the innate musical line shine through, as his recent Winterreise with Leif Ove Andsnes shows. He is singing better than ever. Combined with perhaps the most intuitive understanding of repertoire in the business, he is a force to be taken seriously and respected. Uchida pushes him and he responds. Her brook is Nature's capriciousness personified. But Bostridge's miller fights back. I've never heard such a defiant "Eifersucht und Stolz." In the final "Wiegenlied," the brook cradles its quarry, with twisted, psychotic love. Nonetheless, this miller has stood up to it with dignity. Frankly, a version performed with such intelligence, commitment and insight deserves being listened to with insight.