Recently in Recordings
The economics of the recording companies dictate much that is not ideal.
Wagner’s operas were not composed as they were in order to permit the
extraction of bleeding chunks, even on those occasions when strophic song forms
Among the recent recordings of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Valery Gergiev’s release on the LSO Live label is an excellent addition to the discography of this work.
While not unknown, the songs of Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871-1942) deserve to be heard more frequently.
Recorded on 5 and 6 May 2008 and 17 and 18 January 2009 at the Lisztzentrum (Raiding, Austria), this recent Bridge release makes available the piano-vocal versions of three song cycles by Gustav Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert-Lieder, and Kindertotenlieder performed by mezzo-soprano Hermine Haselböck, accompanied by Russell Ryan.
Contraltos rarely achieve the acclaim and renown of sopranos. Assigned few leading roles in opera, they are condemned to playing the villain or the grandmother, or to stealing the castrati’s trousers in en travesti roles.
Following their 2011 Decca recording of Striggio’s Mass in 40 Parts (1566), I Fagiolini continue their quest to unearth lost treasures of the High Renaissance and early Baroque, with this collection of world-premiere recordings, ‘reconstructions’ and ‘reconstitutions’ of music by Giovanni and Andrea Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Palestrina, and their less well-known compatriots Viadana, Barbarino and Soriano.
Eternal Echoes is an album of khazones [Jewish cantorial music] for cantorial soloist, solo violin and a blended instrumental ensemble comprising a small orchestra and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.
Michael Tilson Thomas’s recording of Mahler’s Third Symphony is an outstanding contribution to the composer’s discography.
Oliver Knussen burst into British music with an unprecedented flourish. In 1967, the London Symphony Orchestra premiered Knussen’s First Symphony, with István Kertész scheduled to conduct.
Based on performances given in Summer 2010 at the Lucerne Festival, this recording of Beethoven’s Fidelio is an admirable recording that captures the vitality of the work as conducted by Claudio Abbado.
Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) was one of the most popular composers of his day in Poland, and of the many works he wrote for the stage, two are performed from time to time, Halka (1848) and Strazny dwór [The Haunted Manor] (1865).
The Polish alto Jadwiga Rappé is a familiar voice in various stage and concert works, and the recent release of a selection of songs by Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) is an opportunity to hear her performing artsongs.
Originally released on multiple discs in 1981 this reissue on two CDs is a comprehensive collection of art songs by Italian and French composers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
An exciting contribution to the discography of this popular opera, the live performance of Richard Strauss’s Salome from the Festspielhaus at Baden-Baden is a compelling DVD.
Released in late 2011, Deutsche Grammophon’s DVD of the new staging of Berg’s Lulu at the Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona is an excellent contribution to the discography of this fascinating opera.
A recent release by the Metropolitan Opera, this two-disc set makes available on DVD the famous performance of Berg’s Lulu that was broadcast on 20 December 1980 as part of the PBS series “Live from the Met.”
The novels of Sinclair Lewis once shot across the American literary skies like comets, alarming and fascinating readers of that era, but their tails didn’t extend far behind them.
Once the province of only the most dedicated opera fanatics, mid-20th century recordings of privately taped live performances have become more widely available.
Flute players in opera orchestra around the world must look forward to the frequent appearances of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, knowing that while the stage spotlight in the mad scene will be on the soprano, the orchestral spotlight will be on their instrument.
Since his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1971, conductor James Levine has come to represent the house’s commitment to artistic excellence — reliable, professional, and immaculately presented.
26 Nov 2005
GINASTERA: Musica de camera y Canciones
Orfeo has joined the ranks of CD companies adding artwork to the inner casing beneath the disc. For this recording of Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983), a series of photographs of gauchos riding horses on the pampas receives a modified Andy Warhol treatment.
Colorful and attractive, this choice does make for a reductive picture of Ginastera, whose composing career took him from music of national character to more modern techniques. This Orfeo recording has a cello/piano sonata from 1979. By this time the composer had decided to bring modern composition techniques into play with some of the material from his earlier period. By no means harsh or aggressively challenging, the piece provides a nice contrast to the rest of the disc’s music, which does call to mind some of the archetypal Argentinean imagery described above.
Soprano Ofelia Sala sings on 7 of the disc’s 16 tracks, all early works of warmth and indigenous atmosphere. Brief songs for voice and piano, they take up barely 15 minutes of the disc’s running time. Ginastera composed three operas, almost mostly unknown to Northern hemisphere stages, but this music here doesn’t give mush of a sense of his operatic style. The music for Dos Canciones and Cinco canciones populares argentines doesn’t require Ms. Sala to stretch her slender, attractive instrument. Tuneful, with fairly simple accompaniment, these attractive pieces make for pleasant but not especially memorable listening. The Cancion a la luna lunanca of the Dos canciones, however, has a sweet endearing simplicity, calling to mind Victoria de los Angeles’s classic recordings of Spanish songs and Sala sings it with touching tenderness.
A keyboard suite, Danzas argentines, and two other chamber pieces, Pampeana #1 and #2, complete the disc. For collectors of this composer, this disc of chamber music in intimate, stylish performances should be quite rewarding. Newcomers to Ginastera’s music might wish to look for a disc containing a suite from his Stravinsky-inspired music for the ballet Estancia. David Robertson leads the Lyon national orchestra in a solid performance on the Naïve label from a year or two ago – it might still be found (!).
Orfeo provides texts in Spanish and English for the Cinco canciones populares argentines, but only Spanish for Dos Canciones. Perhaps a new recording of one of Ginastera’s operas will come along one day. Until then, this disc offers at least a sampling of his vocal music. And some nice gaucho photos.
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy