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

Liszt: O lieb! – Lieder and Mélodie

O Lieb! presents the lieder of Franz Liszt with a distinctive spark from Cyrille Dubois and Tristan Raës, from Aparté. Though young, Dubois is very highly regarded. His voice has a luminous natural elegance, ideal for the Mélodie and French operatic repertoire he does so well. With these settings by Franz Liszt, Dubois brings out the refinement and sophistication of Liszt’s approach to song.

The Academy of Ancient Music's superb recording of Handel's Brockes-Passion

The Academy of Ancient Music’s new release of Handel’s Brockes-Passion - recorded around the AAM's live performance at the Barbican Hall on the 300th anniversary of the first performance in 1719 - combines serious musicological and historical scholarship with vibrant musicianship and artistry.

Vaughan Williams: The Song of Love

From Albion, The Song of Love featuring songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams, with Kitty Whately, Roderick Williams and pianist William Vann. Albion is unique, treasured by Vaughan Williams devotees for rarely heard repertoire from the composer’s vast output, so don’t expect mass market commercial product. Albion recordings often highlight new perspectives.

A new recording of Henze’s Das Floß der Medusa

Henze’s Das Floß der Medusa is in some ways a work with a troubled and turbulent history. It is defined by the time in which it was written – 1968 – a period of student protest throughout central Europe. Its first performance was abandoned because the Hamburg chorus refused to perform under the Red Flag which had been placed on stage; and Henze himself decided he wouldn’t conduct it at all after police stormed the concert hall to remove protesters, among them the librettist Ernst Schnabel.

Berthold Goldschmidt: Beatrice Cenci, Bregenzer Festspiele

Berthold Goldschmidt’s Beatrice Cenci at last on DVD, from the Bregenzer Festspiele in 2018, with Johannes Debus conducting the Wiener Symphoniker, directed by Johannes Erath, and sung in German translation.

Sandrine Piau: Si j’ai aimé

Sandrine Piau and Le Concert de la Loge (Julien Chauvin), Si j’ai aimé, an eclectic collection of mélodies demonstrating the riches of French orchestral song. Berlioz, Duparc and Massenet are included, but also Saint-Saëns, Charles Bordes, Gabriel Pierné, Théodore Dubois, Louis Vierne and Benjamin Godard.

The VOCES8 Foundation is launched at St Anne & St Agnes

Where might you hear medieval monophony by the late 12th-century French composer Pérotin, Renaissance polyphony by William Byrd, a vocal arrangement of the stirring theme from Sibelius’s tone poem Finlandia, alongside a newly commissioned work, ‘Vertue’ (2019) by Jonathan Dove, followed by an arrangement of the Irish folksong ‘Danny Boy’ and a snappy rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘One Note Samba’ arr. for eight voices by Naomi Crellin, all within 90 minutes?

Gerald Finzi Choral Works

From Hyperion, Gerald Finzi choral works with the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, conducted by Stephen Layton. An impressive Magnificat (1952) sets the tone.

Herbert Howells: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge has played a role in the evolution of British music. This recording honours this heritage and Stephen Cleobury’s contribution in particular by focusing on Herbert Howells, who transformed the British liturgical repertoire in the 20th century.

Mieczysław Weinberg: Symphony no. 21 (“Kaddish”)

Mieczysław Weinberg witnessed the Holocaust firsthand. He survived, though millions didn’t, including his family. His Symphony no. 21 “Kaddish” (Op. 152) is a deeply personal statement. Yet its musical qualities are such that they make it a milestone in modern repertoire.

Kenshiro Sakairi and the Tokyo Juventus Philharmonic in Mahler’s Eighth

Although some works by a number of composers have had to wait uncommonly lengthy periods of time to receive Japanese premieres - one thinks of both Mozart’s Jupiter and Beethoven’s Fifth (1918), Handel’s Messiah (1929), Wagner’s Parsifal (1967), Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette (1966) and even Bruckner’s Eighth (1959, given its premiere by Herbert von Karajan) - Mahler might be considered to have fared somewhat better.

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Giacomo Puccini: Turandot
24 May 2006

PUCCINI: Turandot

This must be the first Turandot that has in the sleeve notes three photographs of the soprano who sings Liu compared to two of the lady in the title role.

Giacomo Puccini: Turandot

Alessandra Marc (Turandot), Ignacio Encinas (Calaf), Ainho Arteta (Liu),Erwin Schrott (timur), lluis Sintes ( Ing), Eduaqrdo Santamaria (Pang), José Ruiz (Pong), Pedro Calderon (Altoum), José Manuel Diaz (Mandarin). Orquesta sinfonica de Euskadi conducted byJosé Collado.
Recorded on the 21th and 24th of September 2002 in Bilbao.

RTVE Musica 65171 [2CDs]

$33.49  Click to buy

So much for priorities though there may be a reason for it. This issue is mostly destined for the Spanish speaking countries and Arteta is quite a name there, popular too due to some zarzuela-recordings. I’m nevertheless more impressed by her Liu than by her solo-zarzuela-album. The voice on this Turandot is almost a cross between Mirella Freni and Renato Scotto; there is something of Freni’s sweetness and Scotto’s intensity. Moreover, Arteta has some magical pianissimi which she uses abundantly. Her performance nevertheless proves to be a real live one without Domingo-editings to cut away false or missed notes. She comes in too early in her ‘Signore ascolta’ and has to repeat the phrase and in my opinion, agreed not a very purist one, it makes for a charming effect. Less charming is the end of her second aria ‘Tu che di gel sei cinta’ where there is once more a misunderstanding between pit and scene.

The tenor is Ignacio Encinas, not a well-known name to most readers, but alas too well known to me who has suffered him a lot at the Walloon Opera. Encinas is today’s version of Franco Bonisolli. Acting means strutting around like a peacock. Singing means clinging to high notes, lengthening or shortening note values as it becomes him. Phrasing is sometimes fine and often clumsy and he often succeeds of doing that in one breath. The same goes for the sound. In one note he can combine a nice dark sound followed by a dry patch. He has a good top, not many decibels (less in life than this recording would suggest) but projects well. He can be rather exciting in some verismo roles like Chénier but I also heard him as Manrico or Gualtiero (Pirata) where the liabilities were greater than the advantages. In the first act of this recording he is on his best behaviour, singing a good ‘Non piangere’ but by the second act the discipline is going down the drain and all his tricks and eccentricities are clearly audible. Sometimes there is singing and then there is sprechgesang and of course a big breath before taking the high C in ‘ti voglio tutto ardente’. And like Bonisolli one gets irritated with the mannerisms because one realizes there could be quite a voice hiding under it all.

But the main reason for acquiring this set as a valuable addition to the many great classical recordings is the Turandot of Alessandra Marc. I cannot think of a better Turandot on modern records, be it live or studio since Gina Cigna in 1937. (Yes, I know the Nilsson recordings and I even heard her twice in the role in her heydays). The voice is big, easily riding over the orchestra but it is feminine as well and not just a laser beam. She magnificently succeeds in bringing anguish to her role the moment Calaf has solved the third riddle. And, she really melts when singing her second aria ‘Dal primo pianto’. Agreed, on top and at full throttle she not always succeeds fully but that is minor compared to the rich overwhelming and emotionally involved sound.

The sound of this recording is a little bit constricted as if the source were a TV-broadcast and it favours the singers over the orchestra. The chorus of the Bilbao Opera is definitely underpowered so that the climax of this classical Alfano-version suffers somewhat. Therefore it is somewhat difficult to judge the merits of the conductor though his tempi are fine. There is no libretto included.

Jan Neckers

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):