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

Maybe the Best L’heure espagnole Yet

The new recording, from Munich, has features in common with the Stuttgart one: 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.

John Joubert's Jane Eyre

Librettists have long mined the literature shelves for narratives that are ripe for musico-dramatic embodiment. On the whole, it’s the short stories and poems - The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin or Death in Venice, for example - that best lend themselves to operatic adaptation.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Johan Strauss: Die Fledermaus (highlights).
21 Jan 2007

STRAUSS: Die Fledermaus

Record companies are dominated by accountants and short term cost structure seems to be more important than artistic results or even sale figures. This is a prime example.

Johan Strauss: Die Fledermaus (highlights)

Nicolai Gedda (Eisenstein), Anneliese Rothenberger (Rosalinde), Renate Holm

EMI Classics 0094635569124 [CD]

$4.53  Click to buy

The CD is a faithful and therefore easy to produce copy of the LP Highlights. It lasts 53 minutes and therefore, even as a budget issue, doesn’t give value for the money. All ‘big moments’ are on it but a modern CD can easily include all introductory music, often underlining some dialogue and so giving us the full score. After all, the complete performance was recorded 35 years ago and I don’t think that issue will stand high on most collector’s favourite list due to some dubious casting decisions.

The most obvious mistake is Rothenberger as Rosalinde. Though the voice was not so fresh anymore and the top had become less easy, she still could have given us an acceptable Adèle. But in those days she was a big star in Germany with her own TV-show as I well remember and therefore well bankable. A ‘seconda donna’ was out of the question and as a result she is completely out of her league. Her czardas in the second act, admittedly one of the most taxing arias for any soprano due to Strauss’ way of using the voice as another violin, is 4 minutes of strain, driving or trying to drive her small voice over the Vienna Philharmonic. She cannot dominate the big ensembles at the end of the second act and one sighs for Gueden and doesn’t even want to think of Lehmann. Her partner in many an operetta recording was Nicolai Gedda and here he sings Eisenstein. I’ve never liked Prey or Waechter in this role, good singers as they were, because together with Franke and Falk this made for three baritones. Gedda with all his talent nevertheless is only a bleak unimpressive Eisenstein without the sprinkling so necessary in the second act (how one longs for Tauber). Waldemar Kmennt, far less gifted than Gedda, in the second Karajan recording is more convincing and proves that many years of operetta experience in the theatre have the edge over Gedda’s flying in and out and re-recording a role he only sang in the famous Schwarzkopf/Karajan I Fledermaus. Renate Hom is a charming Adèle though she lacks the complete vocal security at the top of the voice (she started out as a pop singer). Adolf Dallapoezza on the contrary has the necessary virility for Alfred and the apt sound. After all, though born in the conquered part of Austria by Italy, his name betrays Italian ancestry. Fischer-Dieskau in his many worthwhile books with memories freely admits that contrary to others (meant is his great rival Prey) he was not able to sing roles in a lighter vein. Still his Falke is amusing and charming and definitely not the unmitigated disaster his Homonay was in Der Zigeuneraron (where Mrs. Dieskau sang the title role). As always in Fledermaus the Vienna Philharmonic conducts itself very well though officially the name of the conductor is Willy Boskovsky, for many years the orchestra’s beloved ‘Konzertmeister’.

Jan Neckers

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):