Recently in Recordings
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.
29 Mar 2006
Franz Schubert: The Trout • The Greatest Love and The Greatest Sorrow
In this compelling documentary, Christopher Nupen has captured rare and wondrous collaborations by some of the greatest twentieth century performers as they pay tribute to an early nineteenth century musical treasure, Franz Schubert.
Recognizing the enormous talent of the relatively unknown musicians (at the time), in the first film, Nupen documented the rehearsals and an inspired performance of a young chamber ensemble as they discover the enormous musical potential of Schubert’s Trout Quintet. The ensemble comprised of Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Jacqueline du Pré, and Zubin Mehta clearly demonstrated through their enlightened interactions and mutual respect for each other’s abilities why each is now regarded as a musical giant of their generation.
From watching their fun-loving bantering, one truly gets the sense that this chamber ensemble brought together by Barenboim is made up of the best of friends, and that this video recording represents an enormously joyous time in their lives. Audiences today are fortunate at having this glimpse at their personal and professional lives while they express such delight in putting together Schubert’s most famous piano quintet. Unbeknownst to any of the performers at the time, this film was destined to be one of the most frequently broadcast classical music performances of the twentieth century. In a lot of ways, some of the highly artistic moments represented by the performers in this documentary mirror Schubert’s own talents as a composer who possessed enormous musical maturity at such a young age when he composed the Trout, as well as a endless devotion towards his family and friends.
As the personalities of the players unfold in the first film of the recording, so does that of Schubert in the second film, The Greatest Love and the Greatest Sorrow. Although Schubert only reached the age of 31, while his life was short in years, it was abundantly rich in accomplishments with close to a thousand known works to his credit. It seems Nupen produced this film with the intent to lay bare Schubert’s life so that modern-day listeners can truly appreciate the remarkable undertakings of this prodigious musician of humble means. Rather than offering the usual historical narrative one would expect from a biographical documentary, Nupen shares with audiences Schubert’s intimate letters to his family and friends, his poetry, even a dream Schubert had written down. As the film progresses, audiences begin to understand Franz Schubert the human being, his motivations and inspirations, and on some level, get to know him for the gentle soul made transparent through his writings. Christopher Nupen has in essence revived Schubert through a well-crafted audio/visual medium.
Recommended to all musicians and music lovers, it is important to note that the music itself is a fundamental element of the two films that make up this commendable video recording. While audiences today recognize the significant value of Schubert’s intellectual output, it is equally important when discussing this film to recognize the ingenious vision of Christopher Nupen, and the talents of the performers whose conscientious interpretations honor the composer’s legacy. Bass-baritone Andreas Schmidt was featured several times throughout the film, interpreting Schubert’s songs with appropriate drama and meticulous phrasing. His rich tone seemed added a profundity to his interpretations that reflected Schubert’s musical substance.
University of Tennessee