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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.
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.
25 Aug 2006
In making words sing, to use a phrase from a recent study of the poetics of vocal composition, Aribert Reimann (b. 1936) does not emulate another composer as much as he makes fashions his own lines and punctuates them with accompaniments that serve as a means of accentuating the text.
Thus, without a point of reference that links him to another composer, be it Schumann, Mahler, Wolf, Strauss, or anyone else, Reimann’s Lieder may seem from that perspective to be excessively modern. Yet the attention he has given to the texts appears in the music. It is as though he makes the words sing by allowing the text to be presented clearly. While this is apparent in his Nachtstück I (1966) and Nachtstück II (1978), both settings of poetry by Joseph von Eichendorff, it is paramount in Engführung (1967) with texts by Paul Celan and his set of Six Poems by Sylvia Plath (1975). More importantly, the interpretations of the music found on this record also bear the imprimatur of the composer himself, who accompanied the singers in the performances recorded on March 1968, June 1973 and December 1981.
Of the music included on this recording, the first set of Nachtstück is, perhaps, the most accessible. Those unfamiliar with the vocal work of Reimann may want to start with the opening of the cycle (“Wir ziehen treulich auf die Wacht”) which contains some evocative sonorities in the piano. While the sounds can be discussed in terms of noctural images, they also convey a sense of the sound-world that Reimann used in this song and, in a sense extends through the five pieces in this work. It is difficult to imagine a more authentic interpretation, with the composer himself accompanying Barry McDaniel, who delivers the music convincingly. In fact, McDaniel makes this work particularly engaging, with his supple approach to the melismatic passages that Reimann uses to accentuate some parts of the text. In this and other pieces, the vocal line and its accompaniment can seem be conceived at odds, and yet the stylistic fingerprint of Reimann emerges in such contrasting textures. While all the songs in this set have something to recommend, the third setting “Vor dem Schloss in den Bäumen” is a tour-de-force for ensemble in its intricate rhythms and, at times, unexpected entrances by either the voice or piano.
Likewise, Reimann’s second set of Eichendoff settings, those that comprise Nachtstück II, are stylistically connected the first ones, even with the two works separated by over a decade at a critical time in the composer’s life, when he was working on his remarkable opera Lear. The first song in the second collection (“Nachts”) is notable for its extended melismatic passages which betray a creative use of modal patterns that are, at times, at odds with the atonal accompaniment. “Der Umgekehrende,” the second piece in the cycle involves some sustained passages in the vocal line that make it seem as an accompaniment to the florid piano writing. The other songs are of interest, particularly “Trost,” with its engaging accompaniment and sometimes declamatory presentation of the vocal line. The sustained emotion of the final song makes it seem like a scena for voice and piano, with its elegiac setting of a Rückert-like text by Eichendorff.
While songs with texts by Eichendorff seem to be a convention of Lieder, especially those by a German composer, it is less usual to find settings of modern poets, especially the verse of Sylvia Plath. Reimann found inspiration in her collection of verse entitled Ariel, which was already esteemed at the time this piece received its pemere. As pointed as poems by Rilke, these poems by Plath are multidimensional as texts alone. It is difficult to imagine them set to music, and it may be that the choice may have caused Reimann to use a different, more abstract approach to the Plath poems than occurs in the Eichendorff settings. If lyricism is evident in the Eichendorff cycle, a kind of post-modern expressionism characterizes the Plath songs. It is laudable that Reimann set the original English-language verses, which emerge clearly enough in the American singer Catherine Gayer’s impassioned delivery of some of Plath’s most intensive poetry. It is difficult not to associate Plath’s life from her work, especially when the subjects of mortality and self-identity are part of the texts.
With Engführung, Reimann drew on Paul Celan’s longer poetry, and in setting it created a structure that reflects the intensity of a solo cantata. Unlike the kinds of set pieces that are often used within the framework of a song cycle, Reimann sustained the mood of the piece in a demanding work for tenor and piano. The venerable Swiss musician Ernst Haefliger gave a moving account of the piece that is preserved in this compilation.
These are not the only Lieder by Riemann available from Orfeo, which has released another CD of the composer’s vocal works. Both recordings of Reimann’s music are part of a series of issues of twentieth-century vocal music by such composers as Sergei Prokofiev, Karol Szymanowski, Anton von Verbern, Wolfgang Rihm, and others. By choosing such convincing performances as those preserved on this CD, Orfeo has preserved some fine interpretations that are difficult to equal.
James L. Zychowicz