Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Herbert Howells: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge has played a role in the evolution of British music. This recording honours this heritage and Stephen Cleobury’s contribution in particular by focusing on Herbert Howells, who transformed the British liturgical repertoire in the 20th century.

Mieczysław Weinberg: Symphony no. 21 (“Kaddish”)

Mieczysław Weinberg witnessed the Holocaust firsthand. He survived, though millions didn’t, including his family. His Symphony no. 21 “Kaddish” (Op. 152) is a deeply personal statement. Yet its musical qualities are such that they make it a milestone in modern repertoire.

Kenshiro Sakairi and the Tokyo Juventus Philharmonic in Mahler’s Eighth

Although some works by a number of composers have had to wait uncommonly lengthy periods of time to receive Japanese premieres - one thinks of both Mozart’s Jupiter and Beethoven’s Fifth (1918), Handel’s Messiah (1929), Wagner’s Parsifal (1967), Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette (1966) and even Bruckner’s Eighth (1959, given its premiere by Herbert von Karajan) - Mahler might be considered to have fared somewhat better.

Lise Davidsen sings Wagner and Strauss

Superlatives to describe Lise Davidsen’s voice have been piling up since she won Placido Domingo’s 2015 Operalia competition, blowing everyone away. She has been called “a voice in a million” and “the new Kirsten Flagstad.”

Nicky Spence and Julius Drake record The Diary of One Who Disappeared

From Hyperion comes a particularly fine account of Leoš Janáček’s song cycle The Diary of One Who Disappeared. Handsome-voiced Nicky Spence is the young peasant who loses his head over an alluring gypsy and is never seen again.

Jean Sibelius: Kullervo

Why did Jean Sibelius suppress Kullervo (Op. 7, 1892)? There are many theories why he didn’t allow it to be heard after its initial performances, though he referred to it fondly in private. This new recording, from Hyperion with Thomas Dausgaard conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, soloists Helena Juntunen and Benjamin Appl and the Lund Male Chorus, is a good new addition to the ever-growing awareness of Kullervo, on recording and in live performance.

Mahler: Titan, Eine Tondichtung in Symphonieform – François-Xavier Roth, Les Siècles

Not the familiar version of Mahler's Symphony no 1, but the “real” Mahler Titan at last, as it might have sounded in Mahler's time! François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles present the symphony in its second version, based on the Hamburg/Weimar performances of 1893-94. This score is edited by Reinhold Kubik and Stephen E.Hefling for Universal Edition AG. Wien.

Verdi: Messa da Requiem - Staatskapelle Dresden, Christian Thielemann (Profil)

It has often been the case that the destruction wrought by wars, especially the Second World War, has been treated unevenly by composers. Theodor Adorno’s often quoted remark, from his essay Prisms, that “to write poetry after Auschwitz would be barbaric” - if widely misinterpreted - is limited by its scope and in a somewhat profound way composers have looked on the events of World War II in the same way.

Matthias Goerne: Schumann – Liederkreis, op 24 & Kernerlieder

New from Harmonia Mundi, Matthias Goerne and Lief Ove Andsnes: Robert Schumann – Liederkreis, op 24 and Kernerlieder. Goerne and Andsnes have a partnership based on many years of working together, which makes this new release, originally recorded in late 2018, well worth hearing.

Leonard Bernstein: Tristan und Isolde in Munich on Blu-ray

Although Birgit Nilsson, one of the great Isolde’s, wrote with evident fondness – and some wit – of Leonard Bernstein in her autobiography – “unfortunately, he burned the candles at both ends” – their paths rarely crossed musically. There’s a live Fidelio from March 1970, done in Italy, but almost nothing else is preserved on disc.

Stéphanie D’Oustrac: Sirènes

After D’Oustrac’s striking success as Cassandre in Berlioz Les Troyens, this will reach audiences less familiar with her core repertoire in the baroque and grand opéra. Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été and La mort d’Ophélie, Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder and the Lieder of Franz Liszt are very well known, but the finesse of D’Oustrac’s timbre lends a lucid gloss which makes them feel fresh and pure.

Luminous Mahler Symphony no.3: François-Xavier Roth, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln

Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No.3 with François-Xavier Roth and the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, now at last on CD, released by Harmonia Mundi, after the highly acclaimed live performance streamed a few months ago.

A First-Ever Recording: Benjamin Godard’s 1890 Opera on Dante and Beatrice

The composer Benjamin Godard (1849–95) is today largely unknown to most music lovers. Specialist collectors, though, have been enjoying his songs (described as “imaginative and delightful” by Robert Moore in American Record Guide), his Concerto Romantique for violin (either in its entirety or just the dancelike Canzonetta, which David Oistrakh recorded winningly decades ago), and some substantial chamber and orchestral works that have received first recordings in recent years.

Between Mendelssohn and Wagner: Max Bruch’s Die Loreley

Max Bruch Die Loreley recorded live in the Prinzregenstheater, Munich, in 2014, broadcast by BR Klassik and now released in a 3-CD set by CPO. Stefan Blunier conducts the Münchner Rundfunkorchester with Michaela Kaune, Magdalena Hinterdobler, Thomas Mohr and Jan-Hendrick Rootering heading the cast, with the Prager Philharmonischer Chor..

Gottfried von Einem’s The Visit of the Old Lady Now on CD

Gottfried von Einem was one of the most prominent Austrian composers in the 1950s–70s, actively producing operas, ballets, orchestral, chamber, choral works, and song cycles.

Britten: Hymn to St Cecilia – RIAS Kammerchor

Benjamin Britten Choral Songs from RIAS Kammerchor, from Harmonia mundi, in their first recording with new Chief Conductor Justin Doyle, featuring the Hymn to St. Cecilia, A Hymn to the Virgin, the Choral Dances from Gloriana, the Five Flower Songs op 47 and Ad majorem Dei gloriam op 17.

Si vous vouliez un jour – William Christie: Airs Sérieux et à boire vol 2

"Si vous vouliez un jour..." Volume 2 of the series Airs Sérieux et à boire, with Sir William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, from Harmonia Mundi, following on from the highly acclaimed "Bien que l'amour" Volume 1. Recorded live at the Philharmonie de Paris in April 2016, this new release is as vivacious and enchanting as the first.

Bohuslav Martinů – What Men Live By

World premiere recording from Supraphon of Bohuslav Martinů What Men Live By (H336,1952-3) with Jiří Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra from a live performances in 2014, with Martinů's Symphony no 1 (H289, 1942) recorded in 2016. Bělohlávek did much to increase Martinů's profile, so this recording adds to the legacy, and reveals an extremely fine work.

Berlioz: Harold en Italie, Les Nuits d'été

Hector Berlioz Harold en Italie with François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles with Tabea Zimmermann, plus Stéphane Degout in Les Nuits d’été from Hamonia Mundi. This Harold en Italie, op. 16, H 68 (1834) captures the essence of Romantic yearning, expressed in Byron's Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage where the hero rejects convention to seek his destiny in uncharted territory.

Le Bal des Animaux : Works by Chabrier, Poulenc, Ravel, Satie et al.

Belgian soprano Sophie Karthaüser’s latest song recital is all about the animal kingdom. As in previous recordings of songs by Wolf, Debussy and Poulenc, pianist Eugene Asti is her accompanist in Le Bal des Animaux, a delightful collection of French songs about creatures of all sizes, from flea to elephant and from crayfish to dolphin.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Emmerich Kálmán: Lieder
26 Jan 2006

KÁLMÁN: Lieder

I wonder if a record company, any record company, would have taken the trouble of recording these songs if the composer had been Zoltan Kocsis or Deszö Ranki instead of Imre (his real first name) Kálmán?

Emmerich Kálmán: Lieder

Anna Korondi (soprano); Istvan Kovacs (baritone); Peter Stamm (piano)
Recorded Kleiner Sendesaal March 18th – 23th 2004

cpo 777 059-2 [CD]

 

Moreover it is no coincidence that the cpo label produced this CD as the firm has recently released a string of rare operetta recordings by Kálmán and that other Hungarian genius, Ferenc Lehár, which prove that a lot of lesser-known operettas are musically on the same level as acknowledged masterpieces yet are discarded solely and only for their silly libretti. It is by now well-known that Kálmán, like Lehár and that other genius, Leo Fall, first and foremost wanted a career as a composer of “serious” music. Co-students of Kálmán’s teacher were Bartók and Kodály. Kálmán at first had some artistic successes, which of course didn’t make him rich and he didn’t much believe in the inspired artist living in destitution in an ice cold attic (During his stay in banishment in the US in the forties he earned a lot of fees by conducting his own works, though that was peanuts compared to the amounts of money he made on the stock exchange). Between 1902 and 1906 he composed, among other things, 20 art songs on Hungarian texts. In 1907 these songs were even published as a cycle called Dalai, for which he received the Emperor Franz Joseph Prize from the city of Budapest. At the time he had almost finished his first big operetta success, Tatarjaras, which would later make the rounds of the world in the German version as Ein Herbstmanöver—it presently exists in recording only as Autumn Manoeuvres by the Ohio Light Opera company). The songs were first forgotten and then thought to be lost forever. Enter Stefan Frey, a German author who specializes in exemplary biographies of operetta composers (his Kálmán and Lehár biographies are a must for every operetta lover…..if they can read German). During his research for “Unter Tränen lachen — Emmerich Kálmán” he discovered a set of the Dalai cycle in the Budapest State library, where they had gone unnoticed for a century.

Note that in reality Dalai is not a real cycle with a continuing story like Die Winterreise. In fact it is just a collection of twenty songs. Most of them are on rather gloomy texts about fatherlessness, loneliness and dark nights. Then there are some songs he later used for his first singspiel, though there too is nothing that hints at the prodigious charm and joy of Countess Mariza or The Gipsy Princess. They are somewhat folk-style songs reminding me a bit of Stephen Foster, though without the American’s melodic inspiration. There is nothing laboured in the Brahms or Hugo Wolf way. With the last songs Kálmán clearly reveals he is thinking of operetta. The sad melancholy makes way for vivaciousness like in “Örök mamor” (track 3) or “Kurucok tabori” (track 18), which is officially the camp song of a crusader but is the nearest the composer reaches out towards Count Boni’s “Ganz ohne Weiber geht die Chose nicht” in Gipsy Princess. So these songs are always pleasant to listen to and, though the CD contains full texts with German and English translations, no deeper insights are conquered reading them while listening to the music.

There is a bonus of four pretty piano pieces à la Schumann, a composer Kálmán admired . One can easily imagine a young fine lady of good bourgeois stock playing them in front of a few admirers. All in all, I hesitate to admit it but the CD grows on you with repeated hearing while reading or typing. The two singers are not exactly world stars but serious dedicated artists. Baritone Istvan Kovacs (born 1972) has a warm and supple voice well schooled in Lieder and with some Don Giovanni’s behind the belt. Soprano Anna Korondi is one of those versatile singers (Lieder, World Premières of soon to be forgotten operas and some smaller roles in Richard Strauss and Wagner) who never turn into a big name but have a full workload. She has a nice, though somewhat undistinguished, lyric soprano that from time to time turns a little bit sour.

Jan Neckers

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):