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

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Children’s Songs of the World
25 Aug 2006

Children’s Songs of the World

In Turkey recently, we visited a second-grade classroom, where our guide invited the children to sing songs for us.

Children’s Songs of the World

Edita Gruberova, soprano

Nightingale Classics NC 070660-2 [CD]

€19,99  Click to buy

After two children had soloed on a Turkish rap piece, followed by a Muslim religious song, it was our turn to sing. We were at a loss for an appropriate American song, until the guide asked for “the song about the little spider. That always goes over well.” “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” is one of the songs on soprano Edita Gruberova’s Nightingale CD, which is a curious meeting between a great diva in one of the last western acoustical vocal music forms and a very imaginative arranger and performer on the synthesizer, over a pleasing variety of songs collected from the children of the world. The notes are written by the late Kurt Pahlen, who collected and published the songs, many of them in his book Wenn Kinder singen...öffnet sich der Himmel, which had just come out when this recording was made in 1992.

The children in my life are either teenagers, and hence past the age group for which this CD is intended, or else too young to articulate their opinions of it (e.g. the four-month-old baby of the multi-lingual, music-loving Swiss friend to whom I’m giving the CD as a gift), so I am not in a position to speak for the target audience, or even to know what other music reaches them these days (15 years ago my young niece was particularly fond of “Baby Beluga” as performed by Raffi, but times may have changed). So the best I can do is describe the disc and let readers decide for themselves whether or not to make it available to the children in their lives.

The songs are gathered from five continents (Australia is not represented) and sung in the language of the country of origin. Texts are not included, so children will only be able to sing along by imitating the syllables that they hear (which, if I remember correctly from my own childhood, kids do anyway), except for the songs that they already know in their own language (my Swiss friend is familiar with all the German language songs, and I know “Three Blind Mice” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”, although I’d never heard “Humpty Dumpty” sung before this).

Arrangements are played and in many cases synthesized to support the tune and sometimes add atmosphere or ethnic flavor; how appropriate the flavor is for the actual song is another matter (the old-time fiddle effect for “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” startled me a bit, but I suppose it is a legitimate “American” sound, even if I’ve never associated it with that particular song). Sounds include drum rolls in “Joli Tambour”, a mariachi band for the Mexican “De esos caballos”, a balalaika in the lovely Russian lullaby “Spi mladjenec”, panpipes in the Greek “Pera ston pera kambo”, African drums in “Kumbaya” (of which the notes acknowledge that no one knows the exact origin), and bird songs in the German “Alle vöglein”. A children’s chorus joins Gruberova on some songs, with children taking solo parts in the dialogues in “Joli Tambour.” Most songs last between one and two minutes; the longest, the lovely “Dolina, dolina” from Gruberova’s native Slovakia , lasting less than four minutes.

Gruberova brings energy and character to these songs. There are enjoyable animal sound effects: “meow” in the Norwegian “Katten og killingen” and a cuckoo in the Italian “L’inverno e passato”. Her tone is supported, but there is no thick vibrato; the Japanese “Sakura” is set in a part of her voice that allows for a liquid sound. We do hear her breath intake in “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” in a way that we wouldn’t hear in her performance of, say, a Mozart concert aria, and she modifies her voice to bring a nasal quality to the Egyptian and Indian songs. I of course cannot speak to the quality of her accent in the vast array of languages on this disc: I find her understandable in the English songs but there is definitely a foreign accent.

This international collection of children’s songs is clearly intended for an international audience; Pahlen’s notes and descriptions of the individual songs are given in German, English, French, Italian, and what I take to be Japanese. Listeners to whom absolute authenticity in the presentation of international folk music is important will probably be turned off by the synthesized arrangements, but overall this is a disc that I found enjoyable to listen to, and, perhaps even more importantly, I grew to like even more as I listened to it multiple times, which, as I recall from my niece’s family’s experience with “Baby Beluga”, one can pretty much count on doing, over and over, if one’s children decide they really like the disc.

Barbara Miller

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):