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In May 2016, Opera Rara gave Bellini aficionados a treat when they gave a concert performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, at the Barbican Hall. The preceding week had been spent in the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, and this recording, released last month, is a very welcome addition to Opera Rara’s bel canto catalogue.
Jonas Kaufmann Mahler Das Lied von der Erde is utterly unique but also works surprisingly well as a musical experience. This won't appeal to superficial listeners, but will reward those who take Mahler seriously enough to value the challenge of new perspectives.
A new recording, made late last year, Morfydd Owen : Portrait of a Lost Icon, from Tŷ Cerdd, specialists in Welsh music, reveals Owen as one of the more distinctive voices in British music of her era : a grand claim but not without foundation. To this day, Owen's tally of prizes awarded by the Royal Academy of Music remains unrivalled.
The Feast at Solhaug : Henrik Ibsen's play Gildet paa Solhaug (1856) inspired Wilhelm Stenhammer's opera Gillet på Solhaug. The world premiere recording is now available via Sterling CD, in a 3 disc set which includes full libretto and background history.
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.
14 Nov 2006
BELLINI: I Capuleti e i Montecchi
It only takes a few moments for the overture to Vincenzo Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi to establish that this opera takes a very different approach to the classic story than does Shakespeare's play.
Indeed, though most of the plot elements remain the same, this bel canto treasure springs from a different source than that used by Shakespeare. Sprightly and melodic, even as the story moves inexorably toward its tragic climax, composer Bellini's music focuses on the beauty in the pathos. And where the first audiences for Shakespeare's play would have seen male actors as both Romeo and Juliet, Bellini makes Romeo a pants role, bringing to the writing the same exquisite combination of female voices employed in his greatest work Norma, with the title character and Adalgisa.
In a brief note in the booklet of this Dynamic set, Sergio Segalini (director of the Festival della Valle d'Itria di Martina Franca where this production was staged) posits that Bellini's later revision of this opera (for La Scala) deserved staging, and so the front cover proclaims this CD a "first recording." Segalini points to the major difference, a revision that moves Romeo from a mezzo-ish Romeo to a more feminine soprano sound. For this staging the festival chose for Giulietta Patricia Ciofi, who has established herself well in Europe, if less so in the US. Carla Polito sings the soprano Romeo. The live audience came primed for the performance, by the sound of things - Dynamic has included extensive applause throughout the recording, peppered with fervent cries of brava.
Ciofi shines, if occasionally hard metallic glints burst through at the top of her range. Polito, no less distinctive, manages to differentiate her performance so that the ear does not become confused as to which of the two lovers is singing at any given moment. In the tenor role of Tebaldo, Danilo Formaggio impresses most in his recitative, delivered with force yet still attractively presented. In his arias the legato could be smoother.
Luciano Acocella conducts the Orchestra Internazionale D'Italia. Dynamic's sound does not favor the orchestra, which comes off as unsubtle, especially in the overture. As accompaniment for the singers, they serve well enough.
After initial success in its 1830 debut, I Capuleti e i Montecchi gradually sank below Bellini's three mature masterpieces, Norma, La Sonnambula, and I Puritani. In recent years the opera has enjoyed reemergence, for both its familiar story and many opportunities for lovely, florid singing. Fans of the composer will want this set for the fresh take of this edition. For others, the extra edge of excitement of a live recording may make this set preferable to the small number of studio sets, if they can be located. Dynamic continues to be a resourceful and interesting label for opera lovers.