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 : 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.

A Falstaff Opera in Shakespeare’s Words: Sir John in Love

Only one Shakespeare play has resulted in three operas that get performed today (whether internationally or primarily in one language-region). Perhaps surprisingly, the play in question is a comedy that is sometimes considered a lesser work by the Bard: The Merry Wives of Windsor.

A Resplendent Régine Crespin in Tosca

There have to be special reasons to release a monophonic live recording of a much-recorded opera. Often it can give us the opportunity to hear a singer in a major role that he or she never recorded commercially—or did record on some later occasion, when the voice was no longer fresh. Often a live recording catches the dramatic flow better than certain studio recordings that may be more perfect technically.

Karine Deshayes’s Astonishing New Rossini Recording

Critic and scholar John Barker has several times complained, in the pages of American Record Guide, about Baroque vocal recitals that add instrumental works or movements as supposed relief or (as he nicely calls them) “spacers.”

Knappertsbusch’s Only Recording of Lohengrin Released for the First Time

Hans Knappertsbusch was one of the most renowned Wagner conductors who ever lived. His recordings of Parsifal, especially, are near-legendary among confirmed Wagnerians.

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered, from SOMM Recordings, makes available on CD archive broadcasts of British and German song. All come from BBC broadcasts made between 1947 and 1952. Of the 26 tracks in this collection, 19 are "new", not having been commercially released. The remaining seven have been remastered by sound restoration engineer Ted Kendall. Something here even for those who already own the complete recordings.

Color and Drama in Two Choral Requiems from Post-Napoleonic France

The Requiem text has brought out the best in many composers. Requiem settings by Mozart, Verdi, and Fauré are among the most beloved works among singers and listeners alike, and there are equally wondrous settings by Berlioz and Duruflé, as well as composers from before 1750, notably Jean Gilles.

Matthias Goerne - late Schumann songs, revealed

Matthias Goerne Schumann Lieder, with Markus Hinterhäuser, a new recording from Harmonia Mundi. Singers, especially baritones, often come into their prime as they approach 50, and Goerne, who has been a star since his 20's is now formidably impressive. The colours in his voice have matured, with even greater richness and depth than before.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Giuseppe Verdi:  Missa da Requiem
29 Aug 2006

VERDI: Missa da Requiem

Verdi responded to the death of Rossini in 1868 by planning a collaborative Requiem Mass, drawing on the contributions of thirteen “distinguished” composers.

Giuseppe Verdi: Missa da Requiem

Melba Ramos, soprano; Gabriele May, mezzo-soprano; Michael Ende, tenor; Martin Blasius, bass. Vocapella; Aachen Symphony Orchestra; Marcus Bosch, conductor

Coviello Classics COV30512 [SACD]

$20.49  Click to buy

He, himself, would have the last word with the setting of “Libera me.” Although the Rossini Requiem was completed, it was not brought to performance, and a few years later, Verdi’s “Libera me” finds a new home in his own Requiem of 1874, a work honoring the death of the writer, Alessandro Manzoni, best known for his novel, I promessi sposi.

The nature of Verdi’s Requiem is, unsurprisingly, operatic. And though this may complicate its reception in ecclesiastical contexts, it is piously operatic; the innate drama of life’s passing is engaged in theatrical terms, but the theatre would be one where the flicker of votive candles and the sweet waft of incense linger in the mind, a stage on which one can see from time to time the dance of colored light from distant stained glass. The Viennese critic, Eduard Hanslick, wrote that “the study of old Roman church music shines through [the Requiem], but only as a glimmer, not as a model.” The glimmer is significant however, for there are, to be sure, certain things that set the work apart from the operas, especially the chant-like falsobordone recitations in “Libera me,” the quantity of choruses, and more particularly, their contrapuntal proclivities, proclivities that were in tune with Verdi’s contemporary views on conservatory education.

This present recording by Marcus Bosch offers an interesting mix of attributes. At the top of the list would be the brilliant singing of mezzo, Gabriele May. May harnesses her rich vibrancy to a mature and commanding sense of line. Her sound captivates, both with its beauty of tone and its flair. And in these qualities, soprano Melba Ramos can also share in large measure. Ramos also renders the beautiful octave leap in the final “Libera me” with memorable grace, ease, and control, a well-known moment transformed into something unusually fine. The bass soloist, Martin Blasius, fares less well. His thick sound seems “just big,” and his execution seems awkwardly to be of the lumbering variety. Tenor Michael Ende bridges the gap with some strong moments, but rarely rising to memorability.

The chorus, “Vocapella,” is unusually well blended and clear of tone, with carefully formed articulation. Opera choruses, acceding to the demands of the stage for power and volume, will often forgo these qualities for solistically strong singing, en masse. Thus, the chance to hear Verdi’s choruses here in a more decidedly “choral” rendition is welcome—especially in the richly contrapuntal sections—though admittedly, to some ears, a bit more Italianate warmth would be welcome, too.

There is much to admire in the orchestral playing, especially the expressive solo wind passages and the very satisfying, organ-like brass plenum. The acoustic, however is dry, and in some sections the ambience seems to constrain rather than enhance.

This recording then is not problem free, but at the same time gratifying in a number of ways. The ability to hear the details of Verdi’s writing with remarkable clarity is striking and welcome, and the beautiful singing of Melba Ramos and Gabriele May will reward repeated hearings.

Steven Plank
Oberlin College





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):