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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.
25 Sep 2006
Pilar Lorengar: Prima Donna in Vienna
Maybe a looking glass will help you to decipher the reprint in this CD’s inside cover of a small article on the soprano by Terry McEwen, who was Manager of the Classical Divison of London Records at the time of recording.
Still it’s worth taking the trouble as the writer defines the art of Lorengar in a few and extremely well-chosen words. ‘Luminous’ and ‘a ray of sunlight’ are the apt terms used for this wonderful record. I know that not everybody is so enamoured as McEwen (or myself) by the rapid vibrato of the Spanish soprano (vibrant sheen he calls it), by that pretty fluttery sound with the incredibly beautiful silvery edge but the loss is theirs.
Lorengar is of course fully at home in Le Nozze where she displays the charm and the tear (that too was in the voice) necessary in the aria, incidentally the only one in Italian as all the other pieces are in German; a language she felt at ease in as she lived in Berlin where her home theatre was. She is outstanding as Marzelline and Agathe thanks to her warmth and vocal assuredness in florid music, witness of her zarzuela past. ‘Dich , teure Halle’ is fine too though one has the impression she is overparted and the voice doesn’t quite ride over the orchestra as it ought too. Maybe a richer lower voice à la Lehmann is more apt for Korngold’s ‘Glück, das mir verblieb’ but by track 6 the real jewels shine brighter than ever. What a joy it is to hear a Mediterranean voice with all its colours and incisiveness as well to hear in ‘Aber der Richtige’, the operetta written by Hofmannsthal for Richard Strauss (I wonder if Kalman, Fall or lehar would have accepted so many co-incidences). And when the real operetta-arias start one can only sigh at the beauty in delivery. Such a ferm line, no over sentimentalizing but utter conviction make the arias from Zigeunerbaron and Vogelhändler a delight.
Maybe only that other silvery voice, Lucia Popp, could rival with Lorengar but she recorded pitifully few operetta arias in her prime and had to wait till she was 48 before she could record a full operetta CD. Schwarzkopf, Rothenberger, Moffo, Muszely, Streich are no match for Lorengar. Moreover this CD includes two miracles: the wonderful aria from Lehar’s Eva (a minor work it is called in the sleeve notes by someone who had probably never heard the only complete version, in Spanish and with young Alfredo Kraus) and then there is the aria from Die Csardasfürstin, a recording that I’ll take to my desert island. “Making the music better than it actually is” was the condescending phrase often used by British critics at the time. “Revealing the stunning melodic inventiveness of Kalman by a singer of genius” would be my reply. For Eva and Csardasfürstin alone this CD should be in every collection.