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

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Franz Schubert: Dieschöne Müllerin
24 May 2006

SCHUBERT: Die schöne Müllerin

Franz Schubert's song cycle Die schöne Müllerin has received, in recent years, frequent attention with several fine recordings having been issued during this period.

Franz Schubert: Dieschöne Müllerin

Roman Trekel, baritone; Oliver Pohl, piano.

Oehms Classics OC 511 [CD]

$11.99  Click to buy

Roman Trekel brings his own sense of interpretation and nuance to the present recording, such that the performance of individual songs is as noteworthy as the overall effect of an emotional and narrative cycle. The writer Wilhelm Müller, on whose poetic work the song-cycle is based, conceived the series of texts with a frame, the outer poems being entitled "Der Dichter als Prolog" ("The Poet as a Prologue") and "Der Dichter als Epilog" ("The Poet as an Epilogue"). Although these two poems were not originally set by Schubert as part of the cycle, the printed texts are included in the notes to the present recording. The introductory poem functions as an invitation to the listener and a means to whet the curiosity of those who would gladly hear more of the adventures and hopes associated with the "Müllersknecht" ("miller's lad"). The ambivalence of optimism and frustration, of the brook and the mill, are then summarized in the concluding poem, so that the listener of the recording might reflect on the varying moods represented by singer and accompanist in this performance.

Already in the first song, starting in Schubert's cycle with "Das Wandern" ["Wandering"], the characteristic motifs of water and stream combined with wandering during a journey are effectively expressed through Trekel's vocal colorations. Complementary rhythms of voice and accompaniment suggest in Trekel's and Oliver Pohl's interpretation � a regular, external motion interwoven with inner contemplation and shifts in emotion. Together with songs two and three of the presentation here, a triad of anticipation is formed indicating motion toward the goal of the Müllerin who is first mentioned in the fourth song, "Danksagung an den Bach" ["Thanksgiving to the Stream"]. Trekel's enunciation and emphases set up an intimate friendship and dialogue with the Bach, or stream, that will lead him to the mill and the presence of the maid. In the second song, "Wohin?" ["Whither?"], Trekel as wanderer enhances his relationship with the stream in strophe two by intoning "hinunter" ["downward"] for the direction of his staff in order to identify with the natural, vertical motion of the stream spilling from the rocks, already described in the preceding strophe. In this dialogue with his partner in nature, Trekel poses such requisite questions, as "War es also gemeint?" ["Is that what you meant?"], with the suggestion of a secret communication that is, at once, fulfillment yet anticipation. As part of this communication, Trekel's vocal modulations suggest the external ambitions of working at the mill together with the emotional and erotic attractions for the maid. When he catches sight of the miller's house in Song 3, "Halt!" ["Stop!"], his voice descends to a whispering intimacy of discovery and wonder; here the tone achieved by Trekel moves from self-reflective musing to further questions for his confidante, the stream. As the lad attempts to adjust to the perception of his goals, the possibilities are matched by Trekel's varying his emphases between enthusiasm and caution. Once he has reached the chance for fulfillment in both spheres — labor and emotion — Trekel's voice celebrates in a tone of peaceful satisfaction the conjoining of the two at the close of Song 4, "Für die Hände, für’s Herze / Vollauf genug!” [“For the hands, for the heart / Enough and even more!”].

In the interpretation here achieved of Songs 5-11, Trekel’s persona remains in the proximity of the maid and reflects on his opportunities to ensure an emotional satisfaction. The progression of thought and feeling is underscored by the singer’s and accompanist’s emphasis of thematic connections between these songs, hence showing an inner development while the external activities remain constant. The dew in the flowers of Song 10, “Des Müller’s Blumen” [“The Miller’s Flowers”], is intoned to prepare for the manifold associations of the tears in the immediately following song, “Tränenregen” [“Shower of Tears”]. In much the same way, the frenetic accompaniment of Song 7, “Ungeduld” [“Impatience”], leads into the later peals of joy in Song 11, “Mein!” [“Mine!”]: here Trekel’s eager lad banishes the control of the steam and natural forces in general by announcing to all that the maiden is “mein.”

Indeed the song “Mein” functions as a turning point after which the softer and more contemplative tones of Trekel waver between shades that are realistic or melancholy. At first the lad is so burdened with emotion that he cannot sing. He hangs his lute on the wall with a green ribbon attached in the song “Pause.” The use of “green,” with both positive and negative associations, functions as a recurring motif throughout the second half of the song-cycle. Although it is a color beloved of the maiden, her attentions are later focused on a hunter also associated with hues of green. Incipient attempts by the lad to please the maiden’s desire for the color alter with the jealousy and disappointment seen in its very essence. Those songs before the final resignation of the lad at the conclusion of the cycle display in this recording a range of competing emotions. Trekel invests Song 16, “Die liebe Farbe,” [“The beloved Color”], with a sense of elegiac sadness, so that the line “Mein Schatz hat’s Grün so gern,” [“My beloved likes green so much”] speaks still of his devotion with the realization that she is lost to him. In the second strophe the call to a joyous hunt, “Wohlauf zum fröhlichen Jagen!” [“Up we go to the joyful hunt”!] gives in this performance the impression not of joy in the wood, but rather of a funereal procession. An abrupt burst of feeling in the following song, “Die böse Farbe” [“The dreadful color”], signals for Trekel both a farewell to the maiden and a recurrence of his earlier enthusiasm. Such energetic feelings are, however, short-lived, as Song 18, “Trockne Blumen” [“Dried Flowers”], indicates. Here Trekel addresses the flowers given him by the maiden, now destined for his grave, and intones with poignant irony the most memorable verses in this recording: “Der Mai ist kommen, der Winter ist aus” [“May has arrived, winter has departed”]: his love, although unreciprocated, will match the cycle of nature. The final song is given to the comforting voice of the stream, “Des Baches Wiegenlied” [“Lullaby of the Stream”], in a resolution that points to an ultimate resting place in nature. In this longest song of the cycle, with an intricate strophic accompaniment, Trekel varies his intonation by singing vowels with a distinctly full tone, in order to give a different color to the voice of the stream. With an appropriate thematic gesture recalling the start of the cycle, Trekel and Pohl conclude a performance that will surely rank among the finest of Schubert’s “Schöne Müllerin.”

Salvatore Calomino
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):