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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.
02 Aug 2006
Mirella Freni and Cesare Siepi Live in Concert
In summer doldrums? Spend a delightful hour with two great artists in a rare joint appearance, as Fabula Classics has resurrected for DVD a 1985 Cesare Siepi and Mirelle Freni televised recital.
As with a
recently reviewed Renato Bruson concert, this event took place in
Lugano, Switzerland. Once again, Bruno Amaducci conducts the
Swiss-Italian Radio orchestra. They do a decent run-through of Otto
Nicolai's Merry Wives of Windsor curtain raiser, and later a dramatic Don Giovanni
overture. Other than that, the focus is on two great singers; one
somewhat late in his career, one in her prime, but both providing
generous listening pleasure.
Siepi appears first, and just to watch his tall, gentlemanly figure
take the stage prompts anticipation.With a modest nod to the audience,
he begins with a tasty rare morsel, Jupiter's berceuse from Gounod's Philemon et Baucis. There
can't be many bass arias as light and tuneful as this, and though
Siepi's vocal production does give evidence of the length of his
career, the handsomeness of his tone and the commanding technique
more than compensate.
Freni follows with Margherita's prison solo from Boito's Mefistofele.
The singer's innate sweetness and vulnerability make this an especially
successful aria for her. The two Puccini selections ("Vissi d'arte" and
"O mio babbino caro") are lovely enough but more generic in approach.
Siepi turns to Verdi's for Fiesco's "Il lacerato spirito" from Simon Boccanegra and the great Filippo II scene from Don Carlos. With
his characteristic restraint and dignity, Siepi underplays the hurt of
Filippo, which allows the aria to truly build in pathos. On the other
hand, the Fiesco aria could have used a little more edge.
Freni took on the role of Don Carlos's
Elisabetta around this time, and she manages the supremely challenging
"Tu che le vanita" very well, but without quite the dramatic commitment
to make the long selection (11 minutes) thoroughly captivating.
After the Don Giovanni overture,
Siepi sings a playful catalog aria; to have this great Don take on
Leporello might seem a bit odd to some, but his Don is not scanted.
Soon Freni joins him as Zerlina, and their "La ci darem la mano" caps
the concert beautifully, only leaving the wish that the program had
included more duets.
The booklet has a short essay and the texts are in their original languages. No subtitles are provided.
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy