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.
29 Sep 2005
FALLA: El amor brujo; El sombrero de tres picos; La vida breve
With this CD, Naxos continues its well deserved reputation for producing recordings at affordable prices, and more often than not, but not limited to, music that is rarely performed, or with a limited audience.
Falla’s output, though well respected, lacks the popularity it deserves among vocal enthusiasts. One reason may well be Falla’s overall limited output. He composed mainly for piano and orchestra, though he wrote several songs, six zarzuelas, a full scale opera, La vida breve (Brief Life), and the posthumous Atlántida, which occupied him the last nineteen years of his life. Another reason may be that, though Fallas’s music is forward looking and tinged with the influence of the French composers he met in Paris between 1905 and 1914, it is very esoteric in the composer’s use of the haunting melodies of his youth—Spanish folk music—part flamenco, part gypsy, and Cante jondo. However, that in itself is what makes his music so interesting and unique.
The vocal line in the two pieces on this disc is minimal but crucial to the story, especially in El amor brujo (Love, the Magician).
El amor brujo which premiered in 1915, and later revised, is the story of thwarted love between Candelas and her new lover, Carmelo, who cannot kiss her to break the spell of Cadelas’ dead lover. Alicia Nafé delivers a solid performance, at once eerie and intoxicating. Her dark, yet unmistakably feminine voice comes from the depths of a bottomless well to, at once, become all four characters in the story. The music too is intoxicating, with several very definite Andalusian folk themes woven in. The Danza ritual del fuego is probably the best known segment of the ballet, with its images of fire and doom, however the Introducción y escena, a bright outburst of sound and fanfare in contrast to the dark mood of the piece, is also worthy of praise.
El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat) is a much lighter work: the stereotypical corrupt government official trying to take advantage of the simple people, but the plan backfires. The name of the piece derives from the three cornered hat that the Corregidor (magistrate) wears to signify his position. Soprano María José Martos gets little chance to display her instrument but when she does, it is a beautiful, secure lyric voice. The Jota is a lively dance at the end of the piece with many “Spanish” themes, one of which foretells Ravel’s La Valse composed two years after the premiere of Falla’s work.
Danza, from La vida breve, is thoroughly “Spanish” and quintessential Falla. Considered to be one of the finest moments of the opera, it takes place during a wedding celebration.
Maximiano Valdés knows the orchestra well and brings out the best from his players without neglecting or compromising the vocal parts.