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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.
Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and
Carolyn Sampson has long avoided the harsh glare of stardom but become a favourite singer for “those in the know” — and if you are not one of those it is about time you were.
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.
09 Feb 2007
ARNE: Six cantatas for a voice and instruments; Advice to Cloe
The English, though fundamental to the early music revival of the last half-century, have been rather remiss in exploring their native music dating from after the death of Purcell, and particularly that produced after the death of Handel.
The later eighteenth century was a period in
which the wealth of London attracted composers and performers too numerous to mention from
all over Europe. The stature of Haydn and Mozart has tended to obscure the great variety of vocal
and instrumental music enjoyed at the time, more conservative in idiom, less virtuoso, but
English music for the stage has always tended more to the comic, the witty song delivered with
an actor’s panache rather than a singer's bravura. The most durable productions of the musical
theater, the operettas of librettist Gilbert and composer Sullivan, are memorable not because of
the elevated heights they reach, but because of the completely English good humor they transmit.
It will take a Savoyard approach to revive the neglected works from the age of Thomas Arne, and
the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall and Ranelagh.
This disc, from American tenor Timothy Bentch and Hungarian soprano Mária Zadori, is a
premiere recording of a charming set of cantatas by Thomas Augustine Arne published by Walsh
in 1755, and fully scored for voice accompanied by strings and winds. The texts evoke the world
of the wealthy rake of the period, who believes in women and wine (School of Anacreon),
gathering rosebuds while ye may (Delia), winning a women's heart by plying her with wine
(Bacchus and Ariadne), revenging himself on a faithless lover by being faithless himself with
another (Lydia), and sleeping only after he is incapable of drinking more (Frolick and Free).
Indeed, this rake is a complete hellraiser and rapscallion — one might almost title these Six
Tenor Timothy Bentch does an excellent job of evoking the license and liberty of the wealthy
Londoner. His attractive tone is always in the service of the expression of the text, changing in
color and force as the poetry requires, reflecting the shifting moods of the speaker. Bentch is a
compellingly persuasive performer. I was less taken by soprano Mária Zadori, who has had a
long career with many recordings for Hungaroton. Her light soprano is verging on the fluttery,
and her English diction is flawed. The contributions of the Hungarian period-instrument band are
first rate, and the sound is fine.
A valuable disc, presenting important and little-known repertoire, with a tenor we will certainly
be hearing more from. Warmly recommended.