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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.
31 May 2006
Delectatio angeli — Music of love, longing & lament
Catherine Bott is an English soprano in her fifties with decades of career and an extensive discography, but even in the world of early music, where she has spent most of her time, one could not say she is a marquee name.
Among her many recordings there are only a few where she is the headliner, rather than a soloist among other musicians in ensemble. All the more surprising, then, that Hyperion has launched a sort of "early music top of the pops", where she surveys a variety of late-medieval repertoire, among which the most well-known are three songs of Dufay.
If it should be surprising, more's the pity, for this is one of the most consistent enjoyable and diverting discs that has come my way for a while. It begins with an unaccompanied English song from the 13th century, for which Bott adopts a breathy sound popular with "new-age" Celtic pop singers. Is it appropriate here? For me it connotes an ersatz and superficial look back at the past, which is not the message that I imagine Bott wants to send.
The soprano goes on to show what she is capable of in a beautifully spun-out "O Rosa Bella", lyrical, controlled, and passionate, which shows the listener why this was one of the most popular songs of the mid-fifteenth century. Here, and throughout most of the disc, she is accompanied ably by Pavlo Besnosiuk and Mark Levy on medieval fiddles, whether in notated polyphony or in improvised settings for monophonic originals.
My taste lies particularly toward the two works from the French Ars Subtilior, "Par maintes foy" by Vaillant, with its virtuoso coloratura in shifting rhythms delivered with verve and accuracy, and the dreamy "Le Greygnour bien" by Matheus de Perusio. This period of utmost complexity from the late fourteenth was followed by increasing simplification of rhythm and construction through the two centuries to follow, and Bott's readings give an idea of what was lost in moving in another direction. (If I am not mistaken, the listener can find thes e tunes sung by Bott on a Linn disc by the New London Consort which is devoted exclusively to this period). Bott is also heard to good advantage in three Dufay songs, including the warhorse Vergene Bella.
Bott is one of those singers who seems most at home in early music or in contemporary music (an area she has also been exploring), perhaps because her sound and intelligence is more appropriate for intimate, complex, and inward repertoire such as she presents here (rather than the big "bow-wow" that is often the ticket to success in the vocal world). Not so long ago she recorded an entire disc of troubadour song, which is now out-of-print. If you value a first-rate reading of some delightful repertoire, snap this one up while you still can.