Recently in Recordings
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.
Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic
selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary
versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano
Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of
songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime
friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at
the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’
In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi.
With celebrations of the Verdi Bicentennial in full swing, there have been
many grumblings about the precarious state of Verdi singing in the world’s
major opera houses today.
In the thirty-five years immediately following its American première at the Metropolitan Opera in 1914, Italo Montemezzi’s ‘Tragic Poem in Three Acts’ L’amore dei tre re was performed in New York on sixty-six occasions.
Few operas inspire the kind of competing affection and controversy that have surrounded Mozart’s Così fan tutte almost since its first performance in Vienna in 1790.
During his career in film, opera, and operetta, Richard Tauber (1891 - 1948) enjoyed the sort of global fame that eludes all but the tiniest handful of ‘serious’ singers today.
Known principally for its two concert show-pieces for the leading lady, the success of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur relies upon finding a soprano willing to take on, and able to pull off, the eponymous role.
It would be condescending and perhaps even offensive to suggest that singing
traditional Spirituals is a rite a passage for artists of color, but the musical heritage of the United States has been greatly enriched by the performances and recordings of Spirituals by important artists such as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks, Florence Quivar, Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, and Denyce Graves.
As a companion to their excellent Great Wagner Singers boxed set
compiled and released in celebration of the Wagner Bicentennial, Deutsche
Grammophon have also released Great Wagner Conductors, a selection of
orchestral music conducted by five of the most iconic Wagnerian conductors of
the Twentieth Century, extracted from Deutsche Grammophon’s extensive
There could be no greater gift to the Wagnerian celebrating the Master’s
Bicentennial than this compilation from Deutsche Grammophon, aptly entitled
Great Wagner Singers.
What better way for Masonic brothers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Emmanuel Shikaneder to disseminate Masonic virtues, than through the most popular musical entertainment of their age, a happy ending folktale that features a dragon, enchanting flutes and bells, mixed-up parentage, and a beautiful young princess in distress?
29 Nov 2006
CHARPENTIER: Le Malade Imaginaire
On the 10th February 1673, only a few months after their first collaboration, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known as Molière (1622-1673), and Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704) presented at the Palais Royal’s theater Le Malade Imaginaire, a comédie ballet (a comedy with incidental music in the form of interludes built around a secondary plot).
At the request of Molière, who expected the first performance to take place at court in Versailles, Charpentier composed a very developed prologue entitled the «Eglogue en musique et en danse» («Eglogue in music and dance»), similar to the prologues which were to precede the lyrical tragedies of Lully, combining solo recitative and choruses, in praise of the king (Louis XIV). The Malade imaginaire is the last play by Molière, who died after its fourth performance, on the 17th February 1673.
As a genre, the comédie-ballet was invented by Molière and Lully in the 1660s and reached a climax with Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, in 1670. But the dispute between Lully and Molière (at the end of 1671), following the king’s musician being granted a monopoly for all dramatic productions with music in Paris — including those of Moliere — led the playwright to approch another composer, recently returned from Italy, who had not yet written any music for the stage: Charpentier.
The composer must have revised the music for the comedie-ballet at least twice, between 1673 and 1685, to meet the constraints imposed by the royal monopoly accorded to Lully and the Academie royale de musique, which after April 1673 held exclusive rights for all dramatic perfomances with music at the Palais Royal. These restrictions meant that Charpentier had to limit the number of singers and instrumentalists involved in each performance.
The recording presented by the Arts Florissants in 1990 and reissued here, has well stood the test of time. William Christie and his famous ensemble offer us a sparkling and dynamic interpretation. The group appears in its best form, giving the impression of freedom and exuberance — qualities which are lacking in another very good version recorded by Marc Minkowski and the Musiciens du Louvre also in 1990. Despite the homogénéity of the whole production, certain passages are particularly memorable; for example the opening Eglogue, where the orchestra and singers (Monique Zanetti, Noémi Rime, Howard Crook) are most impressive; the first interlude, includes an Italian aria «Zerbinetti», sung by an old woman (admirably depicted by the countertenor Dominique Visse) and dialogues between Polichinelle and the string orchestra, then another between Polichinelle and the ‘Archers’ which display all the skill and imagination of the musicians and actors. The latter include Alain Trétout and Jean Dautremay, who are dazzling. In brief, Le Malade imaginaire by the Arts florissants represents one of the best recordings of Charpentier’s music, which justifiably has attracted much attention during recent years. A pleasure that should not be missed.
Université de Montréal