Recently in Recordings
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.
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.
07 Feb 2007
Jaume Aragall en Vivo
During any recital by an aging divo there comes a moment of truth when he sings an operatic aria
(usually E lucevan le stelle , as the highest note is an A). That is the defining moment when he no longer can hide behind idiosyncratic interpretation, expressive breathing and a lot of clever transpositions.
That’s where the audience automatically remembers the younger singer and his
recordings and that’s when one grudgingly has to admit the star has aged after all. I remember
Nicolai Gedda at De Munt sounding very fresh in a lot of songs and then all at once labouring his
way through a Mignon aria he didn’t dare to transpose. That’s where the many older Bergonzi
recitals catch the tenor flattening. And that’s where Jaume (his Catalan name) Aragall has to
throw in the towel as well in this recital. Suddenly one hears he is somewhat short of breath and
he doesn’t phrase adequately. Not so surprising as by the time he gave this recital he already sang
37 years professionally; so think of Beniamino Gigli in 1951.
The middle voice is still audibly Aragall though some harshness has crept into it but it is a fine
lyric sound. Do not forget that in the early sixties he was hailed as the greatest promise in opera
and it was no co-incidence that in Bologna and at La Scala he got the title role in I Capuleti ed I
Montecchi with Luciano Pavarotti taking the second tenor role. What disturbs me more is the
unremitting forte without the relief of a piano or a pianissimo. A song like ‘Ay, ay, ay’ so well
spun out by Miguel Fleta, loses all its charm and the same goes for ‘A vuchella’. The arie antiche
sung in this way serve only to warm up the voice. Aragall is at his best in some canzone
napoletane like ‘Pecché’ and ‘Tu ca nun chiagne’ where a full voice is apt. And I offer a reward
to the first Spanish company that succeeds in spelling correctly titles in a foreign language on the
sleeve. This time we get ‘e lucevan l’estelle’ and ‘tu can nun chiagne’. Aragall-fans will be glad
with the issue though lovers of fine tenor singing won’t need the record in their collection.