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

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.

Wolfgang Rihm: Requiem-Strophen

The world premiere recording of Wolfgang Rihm's Requiem-Strophen (2015/2016) with Mariss Jansons conducting the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks with Mojca Erdmann, Anna Prohaska and Hanno Müller-Brachmann, from BR Klassik NEOS.

Ravel’s Magical Glimpses into the World of Children

This is the fifth CD in a series devoted to Ravel’s orchestral works.

About an enfant: Ravel’s Opera about Childhood and Debussy’s Prodigal Son

This recording of Ravel’s second (and last) one-act opera was made during a concert, and -somewhat daringly - with rather close microphone placement. As it turns out, everything went smoothly.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

ATTRAZIONE D'AMORE / VOYAGE TO CYTHERA
02 May 2006

ATTRAZIONE D'AMORE / VOYAGE TO CYTHERA

Passion for music is hardly rare, but it is welcome to hear it espoused in public, especially by some of the art’s strongest proponents.

ATTRAZIONE D'AMORE / VOYAGE TO CYTHERA

Directed by Frank Scheffer with Riccardo Chailly, Luciano Berio and Louis Andriessen

Juxtapositions DVD9DS12 [DVD]

$28.98  Click to buy

It is possible to find a fine expression of this in Attrazione d’amore, a film by the director Frank Scheffer, which features the work of the world-renowned conductor Riccardo Chailly. The series of Juxtapositions DVDs released by Ideale Audience offers pairings of music films that are often unique. Scheffer’s work is already represented on a single disc that collects Conducting Mahler and I Have Lost Touch with the World, and in the present DVD he returns to Mahler’s music and also explores the work of Luciano Berio. In the notes that accompany the disc, Jessica van Tijn states that in the former film, “Scheffer wants to introduce the viewers to the great tradition of classical music and exciting innovations of modern composers through the eyes and ears of a passionate conductor and his fantastic orchestra.” To do so, Scheffer draws on various works, including Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, which frames the film, Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor, K. 466, Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, Puccini’s Tosca (from a production that involved Malfitano, Margison, and Terfel), Varèse’s Ameriques, and Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. In fact, Scheffer carefully placed examples from the works at strategic points in the film, so that excerpts from Tosca are not found in one segment, and music from all five movements of Mahler’s Fifth intersect the beginning, middle, and concluding segments of this carefully constructed film.

While Scheffer devoted a portion of his film I Have Lost Touch with the World to the work of Chailly, Attrazione d’amore offers further documentation of the conductor’s association with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. The tenth anniversary of Chailly’s work with the Concertgebouw provided the opportunity to make this film, which serves as a fine tribute to the relationship. While the music is paramount in the film, Scheffer also provides a judicious selection of interviews with Chailly to convey a sense of the conductor’s perspective on his art and its relevance.

Chailly’s love for the music emerges in his work, and the comments that the late Luciano Berio contributed to the film reveal the esteem the great modern composer had for a conductor who simultaneously embraces tradition and also champions new music. Such passions are not incompatible, and the fact that Chailly feels so strongly about both is further evidence of his devotion to music. His comments about the nature of music as an art that must emerge dynamically out of the air leads him to believe in the importance of individual experience in apprehending it. Beyond the physical limitations that exist with paintings and sculpture, music is recreated each time it is heard, and that element underscores the importance of tradition with regard to performance. At the same time Chailly makes it clear that he prefers musical substantiated than novelty that exists for its own sake, and his candor on this matter is quite welcome.

Yet the value of this video is not just in preserving Chailly’s expressed credo, but also in his work as a conductor. In the various clips, which come mainly from performances, it is possible to see his enthusiasm and watch him interact with performers. This gives a sense of Chailly’s charisma as a conductor, an element that emerges in the performances excerpted here. While the film is overtly about Chailly’s work with the Concertgebouw, it also offers a wonderful survey of important works that are essential to the repertoire. The choice of music seems difficult, especially when both the conductor and his ensemble exhibit a wide range of strengths. Yet it is important to view the chosen works for their historic breadth, which extends from Bach to Varèse, with an effective performance of the St. Matthew Passion framing the video.

One of the critical works represented is Varèse’s Ameriques, which shows Chailly’s enthusiasm for the piece, as well as his ability to give it shape. His insights about the position of Varèse have yet to be borne out, and it may that convincing performances like his will help to establish a stronger place for the composer in the repertoire. Chailly’s openness to new music and contemporary composers may be also perceived in the comments about him by the late Luciano Berio. Berio qualifies his judgment about Chailly in expressing his esteem for the intelligence with which the conductor approaches music, and it is, at bottom, this deeper knowledge that ultimately emerges in Chailly’s expressed comments and the leadership he brought to the Concertgebouw.

With the other film, Voyage to Cythera, Scheffer explores modern music by using the work of Berio as a point of departure. This film is, perhaps, more cinematic than some of his others about music, with some memorable nature images underscoring the sounds. In contrast to the images of the Berio shaded blue, the golden-hued scenes that involve water or nature scenes seem surrealistic. Moreover, the shots of Berio in his studio, with the camera capturing the names of various composers on the spines of scores aptly matches some of the passages of his Sinfonia, where the music relies on traditional ideas from Mahler and others in its expressive modernism. The flickering of the light that Scheffer uses for other images sometimes approximates the tempos of the music, to create a fine synthesis of sound and image. Effects like these lend further interest to the film.

Beyond that, Voyage to Cythera serves as a tribute to Berio’s contributions to the musical tradition that Mahler represented with his eclectic style. Berio exhibits a similar eclecticism in his use of various elements within his own pieces, which also reflect the continuities he espouses in the course of the interviews Scheffer included in this film. Moreover, Riccardo Chailly attests to the significance of this aspect of Berio’s work in an excerpted interview. Yet the segue between his comments about Berio and the example from Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra seems to be a bit of a leap without some further explanation of the linkage seems out of place, especially with the interjections from various pieces. The sound-montage returns to the Sinfonia, which certainly deserves the kind of attention that Scheffer offers, and it would have been ideal to include a performance of that work with the present DVD.

That aside, this is a fine DVD, which forms an intriguing set wth Scheffer’s other release in the Juxtapositions series, the one which collects Conducting Mahler with I Have Lost Touch with the World. There is another short subject, though, which the packaging of Attrazione d’amore/Voyage to Cythera, a piece entitled Ring that is listed on the DVD cover. Yet the piece is not included with the track listings and the navigation on the disc. No matter, the stated contents have much to offer in the two films by Frank Scheffer, who promises to be a fine source for capturing the attraction of classical music in images. Those interested in Berio’s music will want to consult Voyage to Cythera, particularly for the interviews with composer himself and also Louis Andriessen.

Yet Attrazione d’amore is, perhaps, a stronger film for the enthusiasm it contains about classical music and the living tradition in which Chailly and the Concertgebouw belong. It is rare to find such a spirited film about music which can be appreciated by a wide range of viewers. For some, it can serve as an effective introduction to classical music, while those familiar with the composers and works represented should enjoy the level of performance that Chailly achieved with the Concertgebouw in the music as found in this film.

James L. Zychowicz
Madison, Wisconsin

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):