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

Gabriel Fauré: The Complete Songs 4—<em>Dans un parfum de roses</em>
16 May 2006

FAURÉ: The Complete Songs 4

Dans un parfum de roses (“Within the scent of roses”), is the fourth and final volume of the Complete Songs of Gabriel Fauré issued by Hyperion.

Gabriel Fauré: The Complete Songs 4—Dans un parfum de roses

Felicity Lott (Soprano), Jennifer Smith (Soprano), Geraldine McGreevy (Soprano), Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (Tenor), Stephen Varcoe (Baritone), Graham Johnson (Piano).

Hyperion A67336 [CD]

$18.99  Click to buy

This completes the remarkable set with a recording that matches the other volumes of the set in quality and attractiveness. Such laudable consistency may be fond at all levels, including the high level of performances, the meticulous program notes, and the careful planning that allowed for each recording to be arranged thematically.

Taking its title from one of the songs included in this volume, “Dans un parfum de roses blanches” (“Amid the scent of white roses”) the seventh piece in the cycle La chanson d’Éve, which is a late work of the composer. In La chanson d’Éve Fauré explores the primeval Garden of Eden by setting poetry that offers some sensual delights of Paradise – a Gallic “Earthly Paradise,” to evoke that image of the composer’s contemporary, William Morris – which is especially prominent in the first song in the cycle. As a late work, the music is sometimes more declamatory than Fauré’s earlier songs, with accompaniments that are sometimes sparse. Yet within those accompaniments are textures that suggest some evocative timbres, and Graham Johnson is sensitive to those aspects of the music. Jennifer Smith offers an exemplary reading of La chanson d’Éve, which contains some exquisite vocal pieces. This is apparent is the wonderfully sustained “Paradis,” one of Fauré’s longest songs, which benefits from the length he used to fine effect, as he indulges in details to portray a well-thought scene. .

Some of pieces are notable for other reasons, such as “Crépuscule,” the song with which Fauré began work on the cycle. In this song, Fauré attempts to evoke the atmosphere in Eden at night and, in doing so, hints at the fragile nature of primeval creation. This song is, in a sense, Fauré’s “Urlicht,” the song which Mahler used to establish in microcosm his vision of Resurrection in the final movement of the Second Symphony. With Fauré, such a parallel does not look to such a large-scale work as Mahler’s, but the less grandiose cycle is nonetheless poignant, especially in the interpretation found on this recording. Smith approaches this song with a fine sensibility to the nuances of the text in shaping the musical line, which benefits from the subtleties she brings to it and the rest of the cycle.

The elegiac aspect of the cycle should not be taken as something pejorative, since Fauré created in this work a sequence of songs in which he uses harmonic and rhythmic tension without resorting to the grand gestures. In “Prima verba” Fauré gives expression to Eve as she attempts to translate the majesty of the garden to mere words – albeit set to his wonderfully charged music. Likewise, “Roses ardentes” focus on the fiery roses that become a metaphor for various levels of interpretation. In these and the other songs that Fauré assembled in the cycle La chanson d’Éve the images of gardens to be portray a world that is at once lost to human existence and at the same time inescapable in the hopeful imagination of those who can apprehend the blending of poetry and sound .

While the cycle is, in toto, the greater part of the CD, the other songs included are also worthy of attention. In fact, some of pieces from early part of Fauré’s career are quite memorable. With its extroverted accompaniment, “Aubade,” (Opus 6, no. 1) shows a different approach to the textures of the chanson in Fauré’s hands. At the same time, the “Nocturne” (Op.s 43, no. 2) is memorable for its modal inflections that connote an exotic aspect. Beyond the color contributed by modality, the accompaniment contains some flourishes that add to the charm of this piece, which Stephen Varcoe delivers convincingly. His contributions to this CD are as consistently fine as his others in this set. Likewise, Dame Felicity Lott’s performances in this collection are equally fine. With “Les roses d’Ispahan” (Op. 30, no. 4) Lott offers a model of execution, with her clear diction contributing to the shape of the musical line. Here Graham Johnson supports the performance in giving the accompaniment a contour on which Lott can build her own phrases. “Le parfum impérissable” (Op. 76, no. 1) is similarly nuanced in delivering the images expressed in the poetry that attracted the composer.

In fact, all the performances resemble those of Lott in their mature and satisfyingly competent execution. With Fauré’s unique English-language song, “Mélisande’s Song” that sets a translation of Maeterlinck, for example, Geraldine McGreevy exhibits a clear expression of the text and also phrasing in a tongue not always celebrated for being singable. In fact, McGreevy does not need language to express emotion, since her performance of Fauré’s “Vocalise-étude” is quite effective in its purely musical expression that stands apart from the otherwise texted pieces in this collection. Elsewhere, the male singers, like Varcoe and Jean-Paul Fourécourt deliver similarly effective renderings of the repertoire recorded under the title of this CD, “Dans un parfum de roses.”

As the final installment of the four volumes that make up the Complete Songs of Gabriel Fauré, this CD has much to offer. Like each of the other recordings, it can stand alone through the guiding theme with which it was compiled. With the music divided among the various performers, the works benefits from the strengths each brings to the effort which is unified by the fine efforts of Graham Johnson’s exquisite pianism. The entire approach to Fauré’s songs taken in this release by Hyperion is well-thought and sensible, thus, making this multi-volume set a touchstone for future interpretations of this important repertoire. In addition to comprehensive listing of all of Fauré’s melodies found in the Hyperion set, the liner notes for this volume contain much information about the songs that will be of assist in rehearings of the fine performances on this CD. Those who are not yet familiar with the other volumes of the Complete Songs of Gabriel Fauré could start with this recording, since it not only completes this excellent set, but stands on its own as a fine compilation of the composer’s memorable chansons.

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):