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

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Bohuslav Martinů

New recording of the English version of Bohuslav Martinů's The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Supraphon, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck. This is the world premiere recording of the text in English, the original language in which it was written.

Maybe the Best L’heure espagnole Yet

The new recording, from Munich, has features in common with one from Stuttgart that I greatly enjoyed and reviewed here: the singers are all native French-speakers, the orchestra is associated with a German radio channel, we are hearing an actual performance (or in this case an edited version from several performances, in April 2016), and the recording is released by the orchestra itself or its institutional parent.

Stéphanie d’Oustrac in Two Exotic Masterpieces by Maurice Ravel

The two works on this CD make an apt and welcome pair. First we have Ravel’s sumptuous three-song cycle about the mysteries of love and fantasies of exotic lands. Then we have his one-act opera that takes place in a land that, to French people at the time, was beckoningly exotic, and whose title might be freely translated “The Nutty and Delightful Things That Can Happen in Spain in Just One Hour”.

Stefano Secco: Crescendo

I had never heard of Stefano Secco before receiving this CD. But I see that, at age 34, he already has had a substantial career, singing major roles at important houses throughout Europe and, while I was not paying attention, occasionally in the US.

French orientalism : songs and arias, Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages : visions of the exotic East, a selection of French opera arias and songs from Sabine Devieilhe, with Alexandre Tharaud and Les Siècles conducted by François-Xavier Roth, new from Erato

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Andromède ; Le ballet de Polieucte
29 Nov 2006

CHARPENTIER: Andromède; Ballet de Polyeucte

Conceived by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704) to serve as musical interludes for a revival at the Jesuit college of Harcourt in 1680 of Pierre Corneille’s play, Polyeucte Martyr (originally written in 1642), the ballet Le combat de l'amour divin was composed for string orchestra with trumpets, kettledrums and continuo.

Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Andromède ; Le ballet de Polieucte

New Chamber Opera, The Band of Instruments, dir. Gary Cooper

Gaudeamus CDGAU303 [CD]

$17.98  Click to buy

It presents several dance entries with varied titles that suggest the martyr’s internal conflict («Sentiments genereux et lasches» («Generous and cowardly feelings»).

Charpentier’s Andromède was also a revival; written by Corneille in 1650, this tragedy was performed again in April 1682, with new music composed by Charpentier to replace the original score of Charles Dassoucy. This revival, which was enormously expensive (above all for the costume and scenery ), doubtless aimed at restoring the glory of the Comédie Française, whose productions had been eclipsed by the new operas (tragédies lyriques) of Lully. In fact at the same time, Lully gave the first performances of his Persée — an opera composed on a libretto by Quinault which deals with the same myth. As Catherine Cessac explains in her book (Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Paris, 1988; rev. 2004; Engl. Translation 1995), Charpentier’s music was conceived in the same spirit as the decor and stage machines, which were the main attraction of the spectacle.

The recording by the New Chamber Opera and the Band of Instrument, directed by Gary Cooper, is uneven. In Andromède’s overture the musicians seem sometimes hesitant, which provokes a certain instability in rhythm as well as in dynamics; but the performance quickly picks up and gains in homogeneity when we hear the four singers (Rachel Elliott, soprano; James Gilchrist, tenor; Thomas Guthrie, baritone; Giles Underwood, bass) who are always very expressive. In this respect, the last two choruses of Andromède are quite successful.

The Ballet de Polieucte, opens with an overture originally composed by Charpentier for the revival, in July 1679, of Le Dépit amoureux, a play written by Molière in 1656. Here the instrumentalists exhibit a certain mastery of the style of the work, and manage to underline the contrasts between the dance entries (particularly in the striking «Marche de Triomphe», or gay «La joye seulle»).

Despite a few imperfections, we should be grateful that this recording presents us with two unknown works by Charpentier. But a recording cannot in any sense replace a stage representation and we hope that it may open the way for new performances (on stage). It is a pity that that these two musical plays have not yet aroused the interest and curiosity of stage directors, actors and musicians, particularly in this fourth centenary of the birth of Pierre Corneille (1606-1684). While in the Comédie Française in Paris Moliere’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, L’Amour médecin and the Sicilien, with music by Lully, have enjoyed considerable, well merited, success for many years now, Corneille remains very neglected. But John Powell, Professor at the University of Tulsa (USA), eminent specialist of the music and theater in 17th century, invites us to appreciate his reconstruction of Andromède on the following web site: http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~john-powell/Andromede/index.htm

Marie-Alexis Colin
Université de Montréal

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):