Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,

A Verlaine Songbook

Back in the LP days, if a singer wanted to show some sophistication, s/he sometimes put out an album of songs by famous composers set to the poems of one poet: for example, Phyllis Curtin’s much-admired 1964 disc of Debussy and Fauré songs to poems by Verlaine, with pianist Ryan Edwards (available now as a CD from VAI).

Giovanni Simone Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Matthias Goerne: Bach Cantatas for Bass

In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death.  Goerne adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker bass register.

Gramophone Award Winner — Matthias Goerne Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge

Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category - Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach - Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.

Véronique Gens: Visions from Grand Opéra

Ravishing : Visions, Véronique Gens in a glorious new recording of French operatic gems, with Hervé Niquet conducting the Münchener Rundfunkorchester. This disc is a companion piece to Néère, where Gens sang familiar Duparc, Hahn, and Chausson mélodies.

John Joubert's Jane Eyre

Librettists have long mined the literature shelves for narratives that are ripe for musico-dramatic embodiment. On the whole, it’s the short stories and poems - The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin or Death in Venice, for example - that best lend themselves to operatic adaptation.

Through Life and Love: Louise Alder sings Strauss

Soprano Louise Alder has had an eventful few months. Declared ‘Young Singer of the Year’ at the 2017 International Opera Awards in May, the following month she won the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

A Master Baritone in Recital: Sesto Bruscantini, 1981

This is the only disc ever devoted to the art of Sesto Bruscantini (1919–2003). Record collectors value his performance of major baritone roles, especially comic but also serious ones, on many complete opera recordings, such as Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Victoria de los Angeles). He continued to perform at major houses until at least 1985 and even recorded Mozart's Don Alfonso in 1991, when he was 72.

Emalie Savoy: A Portrait

Since 1952, the ARD—the organization of German radio stations—has run an annual competition for young musicians. Winners have included Jessye Norman, Maurice André, Heinz Holliger, and Mitsuko Uchida. Starting in 2015, the CD firm GENUIN has offered, as a separate award, the chance for one of the prize winners to make a CD that can serve as a kind of calling card to the larger musical and music-loving world. In 2016, the second such CD award was given to the Aris Quartett (second-prize winner in the “string quartet” category).

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Detlev Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch should be a huge hit. Just as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana appeals to audiences who don't listen to early music (or even to much classical music), Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch has all the elements for instant popular success.

A Falstaff Opera in Shakespeare’s Words: Sir John in Love

Only one Shakespeare play has resulted in three operas that get performed today (whether internationally or primarily in one language-region). Perhaps surprisingly, the play in question is a comedy that is sometimes considered a lesser work by the Bard: The Merry Wives of Windsor.

A Resplendent Régine Crespin in Tosca

There have to be special reasons to release a monophonic live recording of a much-recorded opera. Often it can give us the opportunity to hear a singer in a major role that he or she never recorded commercially—or did record on some later occasion, when the voice was no longer fresh. Often a live recording catches the dramatic flow better than certain studio recordings that may be more perfect technically.

Karine Deshayes’s Astonishing New Rossini Recording

Critic and scholar John Barker has several times complained, in the pages of American Record Guide, about Baroque vocal recitals that add instrumental works or movements as supposed relief or (as he nicely calls them) “spacers.”

Knappertsbusch’s Only Recording of Lohengrin Released for the First Time

Hans Knappertsbusch was one of the most renowned Wagner conductors who ever lived. His recordings of Parsifal, especially, are near-legendary among confirmed Wagnerians.

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered, from SOMM Recordings, makes available on CD archive broadcasts of British and German song. All come from BBC broadcasts made between 1947 and 1952. Of the 26 tracks in this collection, 19 are "new", not having been commercially released. The remaining seven have been remastered by sound restoration engineer Ted Kendall. Something here even for those who already own the complete recordings.

Color and Drama in Two Choral Requiems from Post-Napoleonic France

The Requiem text has brought out the best in many composers. Requiem settings by Mozart, Verdi, and Fauré are among the most beloved works among singers and listeners alike, and there are equally wondrous settings by Berlioz and Duruflé, as well as composers from before 1750, notably Jean Gilles.

Matthias Goerne - late Schumann songs, revealed

Matthias Goerne Schumann Lieder, with Markus Hinterhäuser, a new recording from Harmonia Mundi. Singers, especially baritones, often come into their prime as they approach 50, and Goerne, who has been a star since his 20's is now formidably impressive. The colours in his voice have matured, with even greater richness and depth than before.

LALO and COQUARD: La Jacquerie

La Jacquerie—here recorded for the first time—proves to be a wonderful opera, bringing delight upon delight.

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):