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Paul Dukas’ Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, first heard in 1907, once seemed important. Arturo Toscanini conducted the Met premiere in 1911 with Farrar and later arranged some of its music for a 1947 recording with his NBC Symphony.
The economics of the recording companies dictate much that is not ideal.
Wagner’s operas were not composed as they were in order to permit the
extraction of bleeding chunks, even on those occasions when strophic song forms
Among the recent recordings of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Valery Gergiev’s release on the LSO Live label is an excellent addition to the discography of this work.
While not unknown, the songs of Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871-1942) deserve to be heard more frequently.
Recorded on 5 and 6 May 2008 and 17 and 18 January 2009 at the Lisztzentrum (Raiding, Austria), this recent Bridge release makes available the piano-vocal versions of three song cycles by Gustav Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert-Lieder, and Kindertotenlieder performed by mezzo-soprano Hermine Haselböck, accompanied by Russell Ryan.
Contraltos rarely achieve the acclaim and renown of sopranos. Assigned few leading roles in opera, they are condemned to playing the villain or the grandmother, or to stealing the castrati’s trousers in en travesti roles.
Following their 2011 Decca recording of Striggio’s Mass in 40 Parts (1566), I Fagiolini continue their quest to unearth lost treasures of the High Renaissance and early Baroque, with this collection of world-premiere recordings, ‘reconstructions’ and ‘reconstitutions’ of music by Giovanni and Andrea Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Palestrina, and their less well-known compatriots Viadana, Barbarino and Soriano.
Eternal Echoes is an album of khazones [Jewish cantorial music] for cantorial soloist, solo violin and a blended instrumental ensemble comprising a small orchestra and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.
Michael Tilson Thomas’s recording of Mahler’s Third Symphony is an outstanding contribution to the composer’s discography.
Oliver Knussen burst into British music with an unprecedented flourish. In 1967, the London Symphony Orchestra premiered Knussen’s First Symphony, with István Kertész scheduled to conduct.
Based on performances given in Summer 2010 at the Lucerne Festival, this recording of Beethoven’s Fidelio is an admirable recording that captures the vitality of the work as conducted by Claudio Abbado.
Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) was one of the most popular composers of his day in Poland, and of the many works he wrote for the stage, two are performed from time to time, Halka (1848) and Strazny dwór [The Haunted Manor] (1865).
The Polish alto Jadwiga Rappé is a familiar voice in various stage and concert works, and the recent release of a selection of songs by Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) is an opportunity to hear her performing artsongs.
Originally released on multiple discs in 1981 this reissue on two CDs is a comprehensive collection of art songs by Italian and French composers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
An exciting contribution to the discography of this popular opera, the live performance of Richard Strauss’s Salome from the Festspielhaus at Baden-Baden is a compelling DVD.
Released in late 2011, Deutsche Grammophon’s DVD of the new staging of Berg’s Lulu at the Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona is an excellent contribution to the discography of this fascinating opera.
A recent release by the Metropolitan Opera, this two-disc set makes available on DVD the famous performance of Berg’s Lulu that was broadcast on 20 December 1980 as part of the PBS series “Live from the Met.”
The novels of Sinclair Lewis once shot across the American literary skies like comets, alarming and fascinating readers of that era, but their tails didn’t extend far behind them.
Once the province of only the most dedicated opera fanatics, mid-20th century recordings of privately taped live performances have become more widely available.
Flute players in opera orchestra around the world must look forward to the frequent appearances of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, knowing that while the stage spotlight in the mad scene will be on the soprano, the orchestral spotlight will be on their instrument.
28 Jan 2007
The reason for being of this set is Gruberova’s wish to record as much as possible of her repertory (on her own label as most of the majors were either not interested in recording belcanto operas or had their own stars like Decca’s Joan Sutherland).
We are told this was a live recording
for Austrian radio made in 1998. At that time the lady was 52-years of age and had already a
career of thirty years behind her. Amazing, of course when one thinks of many singers who have
spoiled their voices after half the amount of years. The result is still very fine: an object lesson as
to what belcanto technically means; how to sing coloratura, how to embellish, how to trill. To be
honest, one can regret the fact she didn’t record the role earlier. “Bel raggio” is fine but not quite
sung with the same freedom as she did on her French/Italian aria record on EMI from 1982. I’m
surprised, too, that the recording team didn’t ask her to re-record the top note at the end of the
cabaletta (or didn’t use electronic wizardry) as it falls painfully flat and it is not a note one wants
to hear everytime one plays this set; but honest it surely is.
Nevertheless not everything is a liability. The voice is somewhat more broad, more dramatic than
in 1982 and this corresponds far better with the character of the role. Bernadette Manca di Nissa
displays a fine, rounded mezzo though there is not much in her characterization that remind us of
a young exuberant warrior which we remember well Marilyn Horne in the famous 1966 Decca
recording. This is already more Azucena than Arsace and time. Ildebrando D’Arcangelo cannot
quite compete with Sam Ramey at the height of his powers but the voice of the Italian bass is
fuller, more beautiful and less dry than Rouleau’s in the Decca. The one singer in the recording
under review fully on Gruberova’s level is Juan Diego Florez at the outset of his big career. He
has the style and already knows all the ins-and-outs of Rossini. Moreover, he brings with him the
sunny colours of a Mediterranean ancestry, which at the time immediately eclipsed fine Rossini
singers like Blake and Ford — formidable technicians but without the Peruvian’s natural talent.
Marcello Panni’s conducting is not very inspiring, though one can never be sure on a prima
donna’s label that the conductor has the last word on tempi. Even Richard Bonynge, always
accused of indulging his wife, brings out the more tragic elements of this opera seria. With Panni
one too often has the feeling he is conducting one of Rossini’s comic operas. In the end this
rather well-sung and sometimes more homogenous sounding version cannot quite compete with
the Sutherland-Horne-Bonynge version where each of the principals is superior to the singers in