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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.
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