Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Gergiev’s Das Rheingold

Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen

Hänsel und Gretel

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.

Magdalena Kožená: Love and Longing

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 Magdalena Kožená.

Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon

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.

Amore e Tormento

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.’ 

Rivals—Arias for Farinelli & Co.

In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi. 

Verdi at the Old MET

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.

Italo Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre re

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. 

Così fan tutte from DG

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. 

Heart’s Delight: The Songs of Richard Tauber

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.

Adriana Lecouvreur from Decca

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.

Lawrence Brownlee’s Spiritual Sketches

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.

Great Wagner Conductors from DG

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 archives.

Great Wagner Singers from DG

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.

Adding Movie Magic to The Magic Flute

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?

L’Incoronazione di Poppea from Virgin Classics

Since its first performance at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo during Venice’s 1643 Carnevale, Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea has been one of the most important milestones in the genesis of modern opera despite its 250 years of unmerited obscurity. 

Saverio Mercadante: I due Figaro

Though 2013 is the bicentennial of the births of Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner, the releases of Cecilia Bartoli’s recording of Bellini’s Norma on DECCA, a new studio recording of Donizetti’s Caterina Cornaro from Opera Rara, and this première recording of Saverio Mercadante’s forgotten I due Figaro, suggest that this is the start of a summer of bel canto.

Christian Thielemann’s Der Ring des Nibelungen

Recording Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen is for a record label equivalent to a climber reaching the summit of Mount Everest: it is the zenith from which a label surveys its position among its rivals and appreciates an achievement that can define its reputation for a generation. 

Cecilia Bartoli as Norma

Few people who love opera in general and bel canto in particular have never heard the comment made by Lilli Lehmann, veteran of the inaugural Ring at Bayreuth in 1876, that singing all three of Wagner’s Brünnhildes—in Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung, respectively, all of which she sang to great acclaim—pales in comparison with singing the title rôle in Bellini’s Norma

Ariane et Barbe-Bleue on Blu-Ray

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Rachmaninov and Glinka: Lieder • Songs • Chants
27 Feb 2007

Rachmaninov and Glinka: Lieder • Songs • Chants

Originally released by Deutsche Grammophon in 1976, this recording of selected songs by Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) and Mikhail Glinka (1804-57) make available some fine examples of Russian art song to Western audiences.

Rachmaninov and Glinka: Lieder • Songs • Chants

Galina Vishnevskaya, soprano, Mtislav Rostropovich, piano.

Deutsche Grammophon 477 619-5 [CD]

$11.99  Click to buy

At that time the voice of Galina Vishnevskaya was known in the West, notably in the famous recording of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. Yet this release shows Vishnevskaya in her native mileu, with works that are quintessentially Russian, albeit separated by seventy years, from the earliest songs by Glink to the latest ones by Rachmaninov.

At the mention of Russian art song, aural images of several pieces by Tchaikovsky or Mussorgsky emerge, but the repertoire is much richer than that, with a tradition that antedates both composers and extends beyond them. The famous “Vocalise” of Rachmaninov (op. 34, no. 14) is known in various settings, and Vishnevskaya’s performance on this recording is a solid one that shows her burnished timbre and elegant lyricism. This work brings to mind the modal inflections that are stylistically present in the art songs of a number of Russian composers, albeit to varying degrees of emphasis. With the five selections by Rachmaninov chosen for this recording, such modality supports the long melodic lines that reinforce the texts. While Pushkin may be the most familiar of the poets for these selections, the other verses show Rachmaninov’s sensitivity to texts that he found meaningful. “Ne poi, krassavica” op. 4, no. 4 (translated here as “Oh, never sing to me again”) is a fine example of the kind of art song that Rachmaninov pursued and which Vishnevskaya delivers well.

Yet the music of the earlier generation of Russian composers is not without interest, and the art songs of Glinka call attention to the fine vocal music he composed. While Western audiences may know him for the overture to Russlan and Ludmilla, the vocal writing in that opera and other works shows his sensitivity to the declamation of Russian texts and an expressive line that transcends the literal texts. The “Barkarola” (with an anonymous text) translates the Western form to a Russian and vocal idiom. In another, “K nej,” (“To her”) Glinka sets the poetry of Polish writer Adam Mickiewicz, whose works influenced others, including Gustav Mahler. While some of Glinka’s songs are relatively short, some of the more sustained pieces, like “Somnenie” (translated here as “Doubt”) convey the sense of a dramatic moment that a signer like Vishnevskaya can project well in live performances and also in recordings like this. The eight selections of Glinka’s songs are well chosen, and the performances are convincing. With a singer like Vishnevskaya accompanied by such a fine pianist as Mstislav Rostropovich, this recital of Russian song (total duration, about forty-five minutes), not only captures the national style, but also the intrinsically musical qualities of the music these performers chose to preserve in this recording.

Not previously released on CD, this recording was reissued to commemorate Vishnevskaya’s eightieth birthday. The CD is a fine transfer of the recording, with fine sonics and the kind of ambiance that is customary with Deutsche Grammophon. Those unfamiliar with Vishnevskaya’s voice should enjoy this recital which shows the soprano at her prime, and individual who are familiar with the singer in operas and other large-scale works will enjoy her more intimate performances in this song recital.

James L. Zychowicz

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):