Recently in Recordings
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.
Since his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1971, conductor James Levine has come to represent the house’s commitment to artistic excellence — reliable, professional, and immaculately presented.
06 Feb 2007
Walewska i przjaciele: Najpiękniejsze pieśnie, arie i. piosenki
The title Walewska i przjaciele, “Walewska and friends,” reflects the intention of the mezzo soprano Małgorzata Walewska, one of the foremost contemporary Polish singers to present herself and some of her colleagues in recording of various kinds of music.
indicated in the liner notes, to demonstrate the connections between popular song and art music,
the recording also serves as a showcase for a number of notable voices from Eastern Europe. The
juxtaposition of the arguably subjective distinctions of musical style is mitigated through the fine
performances that unite the thirty-seven selections that comprise this recording.
Some of the folk songs included in this recording are probably less well-known in the
West, and hearing them helps to dispel the stereotypical image of Polish culture that focuses too
keenly on polkas, mazurkas, and other dance forms. The bonus track on the second CD of
“Laura i Filon” (“Laura and Filon”) is a fine example of the kind the more conventional folk
music found here.
Yet selections include a number of familiar pieces, including traditional opera arias like
the “Ave Maria” from Verdi’s Otello and similar pieces. The Polish-language version of “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific reflects, perhaps, the more popular side of the recording, but most of the works are art songs that reside between the musical theater and opera. The pieces
by Rodrigo, Canteloube, and others are certainly familiar. As such, they are fine choices to
exhibit the skill of this generation of Polish singers, but when sung in Polish, the pieces can be
somewhat jarring to those familiar with the original languages. The opening of the first CD,
Rodrigo’s “Czekalam wieczność” is well sung by Walewska herself, yet it is difficult not to hear the Spanish lyrics. Unfortunately the recording does not include the texts, both in the original
language and in Polish translation, to assist the listener. At times, language does not seem to
matter, as in the fine performance of one of Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne, the “Bailero,” as sung here by Anna Bajor.
As to the other performances, the recording has music to offer. In addition to Walewska,
the performers include the classically trained singers Zbigniew Macias (baritone), Dariusz
Stachura (tenor), Ewa Gawrońska (soprano), Wiesław Ochman (tenor), Artur Ruciński
(baritone), Anna Bajor (soprano) Bogusław Morka (tenor), Adam Zdunikowski (tenor), Jolanta
Radek (soprano), as well as Stanisław Jopek, a popular member of the internationally recognized
Mazowsze group that brings Polish culture to various places around the world. In fact, this
recording seems to serve a similar mission as that of Mazowsze in sharing Polish culture to an
For those unfamiliar with modern Polish singers, this recording is an excellent
introduction. While the balance is tipped, perhaps, more toward male voices, the selections given
to the women are quite effective, especially those sung by Walewska herself. Those familiar with
some of the recent selections from the Naxos label may have heard some of his soloists, and the
musicians represented on this Dux recording supplement the sonic image of modern Polish
culture. The voices may be unfamiliar in the West, and they are certainly deserving of more
James L. Zychowicz