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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.
26 Jun 2006
Puccini: Sogno d’or
Anyone who knows Giacomo Puccini only for his operas is in for a treat. Puccini: Sogno d’or presents Puccini the songwriter, and what is fascinating about this little-known repertory is that it prefigures many of the delightful melodies that later appeared in his works for the stage.
Among the many composition assignments given students in conservatories in nineteenth-century Italy were songs and sacred pieces such as hymns and Mass movements. Young composers could then cut their teeth, so to speak, on setting texts for these more manageable works; the larger stage compositions would come later (were these young composers fortunate enough to survive in this profession).
Sixteen of Puccini’s songs and one hymn are presented on this fine album, sung exquisitely by soprano Krassimira Stoyanova with able accompaniment by pianist Maria Prinz. Both approach the songs with respect and integrity. In addition to enjoying Stoyanova’s interpretive style, there are the many delightful moments of recognition in the songs, for a young Puccini would later employ—recycle is too harsh a term—some of this materials for his operas. One may surprised, for instance, to hear the melody of “Canto d’anime” sung by a woman, for it prefigures Rinuccio’s “Firenze è come un albero fiorito” from Gianni Schicchi (with a much different text!). Other operas that appear in the midst of these songs include Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly, Tosca and La rondine. The earliest songs, according to their editor Michael Kaye, were composed when Puccini was in his late teens while the latest was written in Torre del Lago just five years before his death.
The songs range from the delicate miniature “Casa mia” to the formalistic “Mentìa l’avviso,” interesting since it has the composer setting recitative and aria in a much earlier style that listeners may expect from his pen. Elegant in its simplicity is the one piece of sacred music on the recording, “Salve Regina,” done both with the piano and as a bonus with organ (perhaps a far more satisfying track). Listeners should not be fooled by the song “Ave Maria Leopolda,” clearly addressed not to the Virgin but to a family friend who had obviously greeted the Puccinis as they returned from a voyage somewhere: ”We (Puccini, his wife Elvira and their daughter Fosca) greet you as a chorus as you greeted us on the deck of the ship!”.
All told, this recording will be a revelation for Puccini fans who do not know these pieces. Whether a fan of the composer’s or not, though, the soloist and accompanist together present a noteworthy selection of charming and wonderfully-performed songs.