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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.
19 Apr 2006
A Night to Remember: Placido Domingo & Mstislav Rostropovich
Only a few seconds after watching this DVD I was reminded of one of the great marketing failures in records. More than forty years ago, RCA brought out several glorious LP’s of young Gigli’s records and they put photographs of the sixty-five year old tenor on the sleeve.
On this DVD we
get a recent photograph of the tenor. Moreover the sleeve notes mention that
“despite his advanced age, the cellist’s control is
exemplary” as if 79-year old Rostropovich recorded this DVD some months
ago. Both gentlemen, however, look splendid, more youthful than their
advanced age would tell you. I’m sorry to report this has nothing to do
with a miraculous youth cure but more with the fact that one quick look into
Domingo’s performing career revealed he gave this concert on July 17,
1991. And, this date probably solves another small mystery. For a few minutes
I was slightly amazed the recording firm would send a review copy with less
than perfect picture quality till I remembered the concert date (not to be
found in the sleeve notes). There’s always some haziness and the
colours are a little bit whitewashed. But as a former TV producer, I remember
too well the decade between the late seventies and the late eighties. We no
longer used kinescope to record live performances as we had switched to an
amazing amount of video recording means. When we watched them a few years
later, this turned out to be a small disaster. Whereas film, and even
kinescope, kept their full colour glory, a lot of recordings on video were
almost beyond repair. By the nineties the technique once more had improved
beyond recognition; but I fear that this DVD is one of the last testimonies
of those early video years.
I’m a little bit sceptical concerning the programme. I wonder how
many admirers of Rostropovich want to hear Domingo. Vice versa, how many
Domingistes are interested in a Haydn concerto well-played though it is? This
was a big open air concert and therefore pot boilers like the Tchaikovsky and
the Verdi overtures were maybe necessary to sell tickets, but I seriously
doubt there will be many people thirsting for a Domingo conducted
Forza. The tenor is in good voice though, as often with Domingo,
there is that generalized beautiful sound in the middle register without much
characterizing and some pushing over the staff. For such concerts, he always
carefully selected arias and duets that didn’t reach high B, which by
that time was already beyond his means. The duet with Borodina is generously
sung and is one of the first documents of the later star mezzo. And one has
to admit, especially if one cannot comment on Domingo’s mastery of
Russian, that rarely Lensky aria will have sounded better. But the best piece
is the fine Massenet Élégie, which he sings more beautifully than
old Gigli or younger Corelli. This time the colours in his voice are
hauntingly plangent and Domingo himself plays the piano with Rostropovich at
the cello. I wish both gentlemen had chosen more of such pieces. And I think
that 58 minutes is rather short value.