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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.
Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and
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.
06 Dec 2005
ROSSINI: Moise et Pharaon
Rossini's original Italian opera, Mose In Egitto, was re-adapted as Moise et Pharaon for Paris. A new libretto, the renaming of certain characters, some new music, a ballet and reordering of the original music make up the newer version.
It is certainly grand in the French manner and it receives a grand presentation in TDK's version. It was presented at the Teatro Arcimboldi when La Scala was in the process of renovation. The set designed by Gianni Quaranta fills the stage. Everything is large. His work is eye catching and seems quite appropriate. The director Luca Ronconi moves his forces around with aplomb, but it is difficult to create dramatic action in a piece that is relatively static. Despite a large cast that performs well, there is often the feeling that one is viewing a padded oratorio.
The chorus sings well and in the scenes which involve the chorus and principals, one gets a sense of what was to come later with Giullame Tell, as well as Rossini's successors Donizetti and Verdi.
Riccardo Muti is the gifted master of an orchestra that plays more than well. Muti is superb at controlling his orchestra and getting the most out of a cast that is never less than very good.
The Moise is the Russian Ildar Abdrazakov. He is properly noble in his acting and looks a plausible Moses. Vocally, the voice is a high lying bass, somewhat baritonal in nature. He has no trouble with the middle voice, nor the upward extensions. A couple of notes in the nether reaches are thin, but in all he is fine.
Barbara Frittoli is exceptionally ardent as Anai. She sings with great accuracy. In this version, a good deal of the ornamentation for all the voices has given way to straight forward dramatic thrust and it suits Frittoli well.
Giuseppe Filianoti as Amenophis, Pharaon's son, lives up to all the good things one has heard about this young man. His is a beautiful lyric voice. It is used with taste and his acting is excellent. He presents a fine figure on stage. Let us hope he stays in the lyric repertoire until his voice ripens He is quite ready and able to make a splash as the Duke of Mantua, Alfredo and Edgardo in Lucia right now.
Erwin Schrott as Pharaon brings a lovely baritone to his role. He acts with appropriate majesty. He too should continue to rise in the ranks.
Sonia Ganassi is luxury casting as Sinaide, Pharaon's wife. She hasn't much to sing other than to participate in the large chorale scenes. What she does do, she does well.
Tomislav Muzek is Moise's brother Eliezer . His is a higher lying tenor that Filianoti's. A nice voice of his sort. I only wish the costumers had done a better job with his wig. It makes him look like a nerd.
Giorgio Giuseppini is appropriately stern and unyielding as Osiride the Egyptian High Priest and presnts a voice that reflects his character well.
Nino Surgaladze sings her small role as Moise's sister touchingly.
The cast is rounded out by Antonello Ceron as an Egytian officer and Maurizio Muraro as a mysterious voice.
The ballet, which opens Act III is entirely forgettable. It actually intrudes on the opera. I realize that Rossini was only providing what Paris convention demanded. In these days of DVD, one may skip through it at fast forward or skip it entirely.
Throughout, the chorus plays an important role in this opera. Bruno Casoni is the chorus master. He has done a superb job with his group.
It is unlikely that another version of this opera will appear on DVD. There really is no need for one. This is an excellent production, well conducted and beautifully sung. You may find fault with what Rossini did with his original opera, but there is no arguing that what Muti's forces have done, is other than first-rate.