Recently in Recordings
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.
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.
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