Recently in Recordings
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.
Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic
selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary
versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano
Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of
songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime
friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at
the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’
In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi.
With celebrations of the Verdi Bicentennial in full swing, there have been
many grumblings about the precarious state of Verdi singing in the world’s
major opera houses today.
In the thirty-five years immediately following its American première at the Metropolitan Opera in 1914, Italo Montemezzi’s ‘Tragic Poem in Three Acts’ L’amore dei tre re was performed in New York on sixty-six occasions.
Few operas inspire the kind of competing affection and controversy that have surrounded Mozart’s Così fan tutte almost since its first performance in Vienna in 1790.
During his career in film, opera, and operetta, Richard Tauber (1891 - 1948) enjoyed the sort of global fame that eludes all but the tiniest handful of ‘serious’ singers today.
Known principally for its two concert show-pieces for the leading lady, the success of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur relies upon finding a soprano willing to take on, and able to pull off, the eponymous role.
It would be condescending and perhaps even offensive to suggest that singing
traditional Spirituals is a rite a passage for artists of color, but the musical heritage of the United States has been greatly enriched by the performances and recordings of Spirituals by important artists such as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks, Florence Quivar, Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, and Denyce Graves.
As a companion to their excellent Great Wagner Singers boxed set
compiled and released in celebration of the Wagner Bicentennial, Deutsche
Grammophon have also released Great Wagner Conductors, a selection of
orchestral music conducted by five of the most iconic Wagnerian conductors of
the Twentieth Century, extracted from Deutsche Grammophon’s extensive
There could be no greater gift to the Wagnerian celebrating the Master’s
Bicentennial than this compilation from Deutsche Grammophon, aptly entitled
Great Wagner Singers.
What better way for Masonic brothers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Emmanuel Shikaneder to disseminate Masonic virtues, than through the most popular musical entertainment of their age, a happy ending folktale that features a dragon, enchanting flutes and bells, mixed-up parentage, and a beautiful young princess in distress?
16 Jul 2005
FAURÉ: Requiem and Other Works
The Requiem mass of Gabriel Fauré is often unfairly overshadowed by other 19th century settings of the mass. The monumental works of Giuseppe Verdi and Hector Berlioz achieve moments of extreme drama by stretching the limits of soloists, chorus, and orchestra. Fauré’s Requiem, in contrast, is an intimate vision of heavenly peace in the afterlife. The soaring melodic lines and compact harmonic progressions evoke profundity through beauty and simplicity.
The Requiem mass of Gabriel Fauré is often unfairly overshadowed by other 19th century settings of the mass. The monumental works of Giuseppe Verdi and Hector Berlioz achieve moments of extreme drama by stretching the limits of soloists, chorus, and orchestra. Fauré's Requiem, in contrast, is an intimate vision of heavenly peace in the afterlife. The soaring melodic lines and compact harmonic progressions evoke profundity through beauty and simplicity.
This recording by Ed Spanjaard, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, and the Limburg Symphony Orchestra, Maastricht achieves the dramatic restraint in Fauré's music. The strings, in particular, play with both intensity and sensitivity. The Introit has a fervent trembling in the vibrato, and the violas' majestic melody in the Agnus Dei spins with a sumptuous warmth. Their superb musicianship combined with the inherent musical drama captures a hopeful longing for eternal rest.
The chorus carries most of the dramatic weight in the work. In the Introit, the chant-like intonation grows from a haunting pure unison to a full blossoming of light. The following melodic line of "Requiem aeternam" is sung by a warm, unified tenor section. Their sensitive flexibility establishes a gentle restrained optimism for eternal rest. In the "Sanctus" the sopranos equal the tenors as they exchange beautifully tapered arching lines. Both sections' clear spinning tone creates an ethereal halo. The sopranos also evoke heaven in the final movement, "In Paradisum." Again, they sing their unison solo line with a pure warm clarity. At the brief moment of terror in Fauré's work, in the "Libera me", the Netherlands Chamber Choir reaches a full open forte, singing with strength and force. Perhaps the most beautiful choral moment comes at the "Amen" at the end of the "Offertorium" with the soaring sopranos and precisely in tune a cappella singing.
The soloists also bring drama to the music. Baritone Harry Peeters sings his first entrance, "Hostias," with warm, open tone carried vibrantly through each phrase. He conveys a solid assurance that appropriate sacrifices will bring redemption for the dead. Peeters' best singing though, comes with the opening line of the "Libera me." His strength transforms into a fervent longing for peace and safety. Soprano Christiane Oelze's singing portrays the opposite dramatic mood. Her clear ringing tone in the Pie Jesu is sweet and cherubic. Her pure tone and soft expression emulates a child's plea for rest.
Included with the Requiem on this CD are several of Fauré's lesser known smaller choral works. Most notable is a late edition of the orchestral Pavane to which Fauré has set a poetic text. Also included is the beautiful anthem Cantique de Jean Racine, performed here with orchestral accompaniment. Packaged with this excellent performance of the Requiem, this recording is a wonderful collection of Fauré's choral music.