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.
19 Jul 2006
BEETHOVEN: Missa Solemnis
This excellent performance of Beethoven's mammoth sacred work, Missa Solemnis, served as part of the
celebration of the reopening (after reconstruction) of the Dresden Frauenkirche, which suffered devastating damage in the same bombing raid that destroyed much of the city and so many of its inhabitants near the end of WWII.
The DVD offers a bonus feature, admirable in its restraint and brevity,
detailing this story. Viewing it before the performance would be a good
strategy, as the camera work in the DVD spends so much time gliding along the
walls and sliding off the musicians in order to focus on some aspect of the
interior. If one does not appreciate the occasion, this might irritate many
viewers (and some may not find the occasion sufficient rationale either).
Camera technology has developed so that the constant movement and birds-eye
view angles can become a distraction.
The hall does have much to enjoy, visually. With its ornate friezes and
blocks of pastel blues and pinks, the impression is as if a very traditional
wedding cake had been inverted and we are inside it. The recorded sound,
remarkably clear and not at all rattled by loud crescendos, suggests that the
church will make a fine venue for more musical performances.
Fabio Luisi leads this one, looking quite aware of the profundity of the
occasion, even tense, yet managing a fervent, detailed job of leading the
Dresden Staatskapelle. The four soloists stand before the chorus and behind
the orchestra. Contralto Birgit Remmert lacks a distinctive tone but never
offers less than a competent performance. Tenor Christian Elsner also has
somewhat of an anonymous tenor sound, and when the tessitura climbs, some
strain becomes noticeable.
A gorgeous woman, Camilla Nylund also impresses with her ability to sustain
the challenging soprano line without letting the effort mar her rich tone.
Surely the most well-known of the four singers, bass René Pape shows why he
has made a world-wide reputation for himself. He sounds beautiful, relaxed
and yet urgent as necessary.
The long credits play over several minutes of ovations for the musicians from
the audience, who made hardly any sound during the performance, based on the
DVD's audio. So for those who want to watch the effort that goes into making
Beethoven's massive mass come to life, while enjoying the architecture of the
new Frauenkirche, this Euroarts set can be highly recommended.
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy