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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.
21 Feb 2006
ARIOSTI: “The Flowering and Fading of Love”
Musicologists should be eager to welcome the “first modern recordings” of any work; surely having the opportunity to hear a long-lost musical treasure, rather than having it stare off the page in black-and-white, is something to be celebrated.
And indeed it is A Good Thing to have the opportunity to listen to a cycle of six Italian cantatas, since most examples of the genre available in modern recordings are single works.
But Ariosti? In the program booklet, Keith Anderson argues for the artistic significance of Ariosti, tracing his career as a viola performer and composer throughout Europe, and building an especially convincing connection with England and Handel. And indeed, Ariosti is certainly relevant among a number of skilled musicians who took advantage of the English fashion for Italian music in the first quarter of the 1700s, serving especially the Hanoverian court and its circles. But these six cantatas, while historically interesting, are not especially riveting music; and regrettably, the performance at hand doesn’t do much to “sell” the trans-historical worth of this remarkable violist’s compositions.
The scoring of the cantatas opens up a problem right away: the combination of baroque flute and baroque violin can be jarring given their very different timbres, and in this recording this reviewer finds it not especially pleasant. Reviol has a lovely tone (especially in the long notes), but her Italian pronunciation is awkward, the enunciation of words is sometimes blurred (especially in the arias), and her choice of breaths within a phrase is sometimes puzzling. van der Poel also has a somewhat tentative pronunciation, though her voice is rich and her delivery is more convincing.
Calling a harpsichord tinkly might seem analogous to calling coal black; but the instrument chosen for this recording is especially sewing-machine-like, and the phrasing and articulation used does not improve the situation (this harshness is especially noticeable in Cantata 5, “The Shipwreck”, but it does not seem to be a programmatic choice). However, the other continuo player – lutenist and theorbist Toshimoro Ozaki – plays with sensitivity and nuance, and the second cantata (“Honest Love”), in which he is joined by Robert Nikolayczik on gamba, is the most lovely of the bunch.
Filling in the remainder of the CD are two trio-sonatas, one by Locatelli and one by Vivaldi; flute and violin, now alone, seem better matched, but the harpsichord is still annoyingly tinkly – it would have been interesting for this reviewer to hear how Ozaki’s theorbo might have provided variety in the basso continuo realization. Still, these two works seem more an afterthought than a true match for the Ariosti cycle.
A note in the booklet indicates that texts for the recording are available online on the Naxos site as .pdf files. This is a rather ingenious solution to the high costs of booklet reproduction, but those who acquire the CD will have to resign themselves to keeping the texts separate from the CD itself, which might turn out to be annoying.
I am very glad that this recording was made, and I will ask my university library to acquire it. It provides a rare teaching example of a style that brings the baroque idiom to a simplicity that foreshadows the gallant approach which would soon land on and conquer British shores. But perhaps characterizing this as a crucial teaching recording for musicologists is damning praise indeed.
The University of Texas at Austin