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.
26 Sep 2005
On Wings of Jewish Songs — Music from the New Jewish School
Yiddish is a language based on medieval German that developed separately from modern German. It spread throughout Eastern Europe, where it acquired words from Hebrew, as well as Russian, Polish, and other Slavic languages.
Beginning in the late nineteenth century, serious writers such as Sholem Aleichem, Chaim Nachman Bialik, and Mendele Moicher Sforim produced poetry, stories, and novels in Yiddish that captured the imagination of Jews worldwide. At the same time, Jews became conscious of a repertoire of songs and melodies--old ones passed down from earlier generations and new ones that sprang up--in Yiddish, as well as sacred music in Hebrew. Collections of such music were published, beginning in the early twentieth century and continuing till today.
What is called the “New Jewish School of Music” has its roots in these secular and sacred songs, which from the early twentieth century were also used by “serious” or “classical” composers. For this recording, the artists have chosen 36 items that date primarily from the first half of the twentieth century, some for solo piano, most for voice and piano.
The singer featured on this CD is the American-born and -educated mezzo-soprano Helene Schneidermann, who has been with the Stuttgart State Opera for more than twenty years. She has performed dozens of roles in opera houses in the United States, Europe, and Israel, including Carmen, Orlofsy in Fledermaus, Maddalena in Rigoletto, and Rosina in The Barber of Seville. Her rich mezzo voice is excellent for the more serious works on the recording, but Schneidermann also gives a spirited and light-hearted rendering when it is called for. One of the latter, “Ich bin a bal-agole” (I am a coachman), was written by Solomon Rosowsky (1878-1962). Son of the cantor and composer Baruch Leib Rosowsky, Solomon was a composer, musicologist, collector and editor of Jewish music, music critic, teacher, and author of The Cantillation of the Bible: The Five Books of Moses.
Interspersed between the songs are four sets of works for solo piano by Alexander Krejn, his “Jewish Dances,” op. 50, performed by Jascha Nemtsov. Born and educated in Russia, Nemtsov graduated with distinction from the Leningrad Conservatory in 1986, and six years later moved to Stuttgart, Germany, where he still lives. His sensitive playing of the solo works and the relatively simple accompaniments suits the music very well.
Like Rosovsky, Krejn (1883-1951) was born into a musical family. His father was a klezmer musician who played violin at Jewish weddings, and his six brothers all became musicians. Kreijn achieved his greatet success as a composer for the Yiddish theater in Russia during the 1920s. The Opus 50 dances are drawn from some of his theater works. After Jewish music was banned in the Soviet Union, Kreijn wrote works unrelated to his career up till then.
The best-known of the composers on this CD is Lazare Saminsky, who is represented by four works at the beginning and three at the end of the recording. Saminsky, who grew up in Russia and emigrated to New York when he was nearly 40, became music director for Temple Emanuel, which has been called the “Vatican” of the Reform Jewish movement. If anyone can be called the Grand Old Man of New Jewish Music, it is Saminsky (whose dates, 1882-1959, are erroneously given as 1959-1982!).
The first work on the recording is “Shir Hashirim,” Saminsky’s setting of the first few sentences of the Song of Songs in Hebrew. It is appropriately prayer-like, featuring simple harmonies played mostly in chords in the piano. It sticks close to the tonic, like Torah chanting, and features flourishes at ends of some of the sentences. The Hebrew pronunciation (as well as the transliteration in the booklet) are inconsistent and, in some places, simply wrong. Nevertheless, starting off the recital with a prayerful Bible passage sets a good tone for what is to come.
Of the other composers represented on this CD, the best known is Joseph Achron (1886-1943), whose “Po En-Harod” (Here is En-Harod) in Hebrew is a tribute to a kibbutz in Israel.