Recently in Recordings
In May 2016, Opera Rara gave Bellini aficionados a treat when they gave a concert performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, at the Barbican Hall. The preceding week had been spent in the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, and this recording, released last month, is a very welcome addition to Opera Rara’s bel canto catalogue.
Jonas Kaufmann Mahler Das Lied von der Erde is utterly unique but also works surprisingly well as a musical experience. This won't appeal to superficial listeners, but will reward those who take Mahler seriously enough to value the challenge of new perspectives.
A new recording, made late last year, Morfydd Owen : Portrait of a Lost Icon, from Tŷ Cerdd, specialists in Welsh music, reveals Owen as one of the more distinctive voices in British music of her era : a grand claim but not without foundation. To this day, Owen's tally of prizes awarded by the Royal Academy of Music remains unrivalled.
The Feast at Solhaug : Henrik Ibsen's play Gildet paa Solhaug (1856) inspired Wilhelm Stenhammer's opera Gillet på Solhaug. The world premiere recording is now available via Sterling CD, in a 3 disc set which includes full libretto and background history.
Honours yet again to Oehms Classics who understand the importance of excellence. A composer as good, and as individual, as Walter Braunfels deserves nothing less.
‘Can great music be inspired by the throw of the dice?’ asks Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars, in his liner notes to the ensemble’s new recording of Josquin’s Missa Di dadi (The Dice Mass). The fifteenth-century artist certainly had an abundant supply of devotional imagery. As one scholar has put it, during this age there was neither ‘an object nor an action, however trivial, that [was] not constantly correlated with Christ or salvation’.
Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto was the composer’s ﬁfteenth opera, and the ninth to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini (1615-1651). First performed at the Teatro Sant’Apollinaire in Venice on 28th November 1651, the opera by might have been sub-titled ‘Gods Behaving Badly’, so debauched are the deities’ dalliances and deviations, so egotistical their deceptions.
New from Oehms Classics, Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 1. Luxury singers - Valentina Farcas, Klaus Florian Vogt and Michael Volle, with the Staatskapelle Weimar, conducted by Hansjörg Albrecht.
Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the
Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement
violin concerto), the Symphony in G Minor, and perhaps some movements from his
ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.
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.
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