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Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the
Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement
violin concerto), the Symphony in G Minor, and perhaps some movements from his
ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.
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.
22 Apr 2006
Tönet, ihr Pauken!
Bach’s famed career as an organist, his prolific output of church cantatas, and his personal piety, all conspire to keep the image of the churchly Bach front and center in the modern mind, despite the enduring familiarity and popularity of Brandenburg concertos, sonatas, and suites.
more inclusive image of Bach not only reflects historical reality, but also
reminds us of the fragility of the sacred-secular boundary in Bach’s
day, a boundary that he traversed with ease, if he recognized it at all.
Günther Stiller has made the case that for an eighteenth-century Orthodox
Lutheran the divisions of sacred and secular are ill-fitting, for the
Orthodox believer would have sought to consecrate those things that we too
quickly see as mundane. In this light, then, a recording of celebratory
secular cantatas offers not so much a different side of Bach as much
as a variation on a unified theme: music for any occasion, crafted with
consummate skill and inspiration worthily reflects the divine. And it is in
this way, too, that we can begin to understand the easy flow of musical
materials across the divisions of sacred and secular. In one of the cantatas
here, “Tönet, ihr Pauken,” BWV 214, several movements later
appear in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, where their presence
raises not even the remotest scintilla of stylistic impropriety.
Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocal Gent have a long-standing
tradition of Bach performance, and the two cantatas performed here,
“Tönet, ihr Pauken” and “Vereinigte Zwietracht der
wechselnden Saiten,” BWV 207, are rendered with a style-consciousness
and technical mastery that must surely define “state of the art.”
Both cantatas are festive, commemorative works: “Vereinigte
Zwietracht” salutes the appointment of a young professor, Gottlieb
Kortte, at the University of Leipzig (1726); “Tönet, ihr Pauken”
is a birthday offering for the Electress of Saxony, Maria Josepha (1733).
Both cantatas either borrow from other Bach works or are the source of future
borrowings—“Vereinigte Zwietracht,” for instance, gives a
rollicking choral version of the third movement of the first Brandenburg
Concerto, and there is much delight in meeting an old, familiar friend in
this less familiar garb! Both cantatas are allegorical: Diligence, Honor,
Gratitude and Happiness voice the praises of the Professor, whereas in the
Electoral salute it is Peace, War, and Fame who sing, embodied in the
mythological goddesses Irene, Bellona, and Fama. And finally, both cantatas
reveal how short the distance is from secular to sacred.
Herreweghe’s performances are rooted in dance-like elegance and
contoured shapeliness of line and motive. The celebrative nature of the works
is clear both in the festive trumpetings, admirably executed by Guy Ferber,
and in the energetic flurry of melismata that so frequently abounds here.
Characteristically, Herreweghe responds with an exuberance that never
threatens to get out of hand. Shapelieness, contour, and elegance all reign
without rival. Even the opening timpani motive of “Tönet, ihr
Pauken” is a model of verbally-based inflection!
Much of the duty falls to the solo ensemble of Carolyn Sampson, soprano,
Ingeborg Danz, alto, Mark Padmore, tenor, and Peter Kooy, bass, all of whom
seem well attuned to Herreweghe’s stylistic model, particularly as they
dance through their florid passage work. Padmore and Sampson both have
wonderfully free high registers; the lower voices of Danz and Kooy claim a
richer resonance, though never at the cost of agility or focus. The choral
forces of Collegium Vocale Gent are wonderfully flexible and articulative. If
any issue seems to arise at all, it is that they are, in fact,
choral forces. The case for Bach’s choir being one of solo
voices—at least in church music—is well rehearsed by now, with a
number of devout adherents. Herreweghe’s use of a choir reminds that
the debate remains open-ended, and becomes also a compelling example of how
effective choral forces can be.