Recently in Recordings
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.
Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic
selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary
versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano
Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of
songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime
friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at
the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’
In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi.
With celebrations of the Verdi Bicentennial in full swing, there have been
many grumblings about the precarious state of Verdi singing in the world’s
major opera houses today.
In the thirty-five years immediately following its American première at the Metropolitan Opera in 1914, Italo Montemezzi’s ‘Tragic Poem in Three Acts’ L’amore dei tre re was performed in New York on sixty-six occasions.
Few operas inspire the kind of competing affection and controversy that have surrounded Mozart’s Così fan tutte almost since its first performance in Vienna in 1790.
During his career in film, opera, and operetta, Richard Tauber (1891 - 1948) enjoyed the sort of global fame that eludes all but the tiniest handful of ‘serious’ singers today.
Known principally for its two concert show-pieces for the leading lady, the success of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur relies upon finding a soprano willing to take on, and able to pull off, the eponymous role.
It would be condescending and perhaps even offensive to suggest that singing
traditional Spirituals is a rite a passage for artists of color, but the musical heritage of the United States has been greatly enriched by the performances and recordings of Spirituals by important artists such as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks, Florence Quivar, Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, and Denyce Graves.
As a companion to their excellent Great Wagner Singers boxed set
compiled and released in celebration of the Wagner Bicentennial, Deutsche
Grammophon have also released Great Wagner Conductors, a selection of
orchestral music conducted by five of the most iconic Wagnerian conductors of
the Twentieth Century, extracted from Deutsche Grammophon’s extensive
There could be no greater gift to the Wagnerian celebrating the Master’s
Bicentennial than this compilation from Deutsche Grammophon, aptly entitled
Great Wagner Singers.
23 Jun 2006
Renato Bruson — Live in Concert
One sign that a media market has really come into its own, economically speaking, is the appearance of items previously released in other formats, items that one struggles to imagine a wide market for. DVDs must be doing fairly well, then, in the classical market.
Here we have
a release from a company called "Fabula Classics" of a 60 minute
recital from 1983, with Renato Bruson singing 6 arias (mostly Verdi,
with 2 by Donizetti) and the Swiss-Italian Radio orchestra
performing the Barbieri di Siviglia sinfonia and the intermezzos from Manon Lescaut and I Pagliacci.
Undoubtedly, Renato Bruson deserves to have a record of his
singing at the peak of his career preserved. He has been one of the
sturdiest, most skilled of baritones, especially in the Italian
repertory. This particular recital, as filmed, doesn't do him justice.
First, the source film hasn't been improved by the transfer to DVD. The
video comes across as washed out, except for the brilliant blue of the
hall's seats (and it doesn't seem to have been a sell-out, considering
the scattered empty seats). Second, the camera work can serve as a
standard for perfunctory direction. Bruson enters for an aria,
acknowledges the audience, which is shown applauding, then the
conductor waits for a nod from the singer before giving the downbeat.
The aria then features close-up of the singer, then a stage view,
alternating occasionally with a pan of the musicians. The crowd shows up again at aria's end, to applaud Bruson before he exits. Repeat 6 times.
With a singer of Bruson's talent, no recital would be without some distinction. He begins with a rarity from Donizetti's La Favorita, "Vien
Leonora," and after "Di Provenza," features "Atanto amor" from the same
opera. In this relatively unfamiliar music, Bruson offers style and
masculine tone. However, by this third aria of the recital, a certain
sameness of technique and approach also makes itself felt, and that
sense lingers through Iago's credo, an aria from I Vespri Siciliani's
Monforte ("In braccio alle dovizie") and Rodrigo's death scene.The
hall's acoustic, or the placement of the microphones, also has the
voice a bit too up front, with an unpleasant fuzziness to Bruson's
louder singing, especially at high notes.
The booklet essay, by Arrigo Quattrocchi, has some insightful comments
about Bruson's career. Not all those comments, unfortunately, are borne
out by the recital. More of Bruson's "beautiful, burnished sound" would
especially have been appreciated. That essay appears in four languages,
and then the aria's texts are printed in Italian. The DVD does not
offer subtitles in any language.
Conductor Bruno Amaducci leads the Swiss-Italian radio Orchestra in the effective, if not exciting, instrumental selections.
All singers have fans eager to own every produced featuring their favorites. Only for Bruson fans can this DVD be recommended.
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy