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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.
21 Mar 2007
TELEMANN: Komm Geist des Herrn — Late Cantatas
Our modern sense of the eighteenth-century Lutheran cantata derives in large part from the works of J. S. Bach—works that have been foundational in the early music movement, works that have much shaped our understanding of Bach, and works that we now know in an impressive array of different recordings.
The emphasis on Bach has not yielded a static sense of the cantata, by any
means, but I suspect that we have tended to see its dynamic changes within the boundaries of
Bach’s career and not much beyond.
The present recording offers a compelling glimpse of the cantata in the years after Bach’s death
with three cantatas by Telemann from the late 1750s and early 1760s, works written when
Telemann was an old man in his eighties. If an old man, his style here has nevertheless moved
with the times. The cantata’s mix of recitative, aria, duet, and chorale shows a degree of
continuity with the earlier cantata, but the style, compared to the Bach cantatas, is decidedly
different. Telemann’s late cantatas feature line and phrases that are smaller-scale and more
focused on small motives; the music is less contrapuntal and arguably simpler. Those who
complained of the unnaturalness of Bach may have found in this music a more agreeable
vocabulary. And a distinctive difference, as well, is the relatively little amount that the choir is
given to do—some chorale verses and a few short movements. The orchestral and vocal lines
alike are often intricately ornamental, but it is an intricacy that graces rather than overwhelms.
The strongest link with the earlier and better known Bach works is surely the composer’s
engagement of the meaning of the text. Telemann will give melismas of delight in association
with words of joy, chromaticism and harmonic alteration for darker words and affections; he will
harness the orchestration to special sound effect, as for instance, in the use of timpani where
God’s voice thunders from Sinai; and his choral setting depicting an eerily quiet extinguishing of
the stars at the Last Judgement is highly atmospheric.
There is much to like in the performances here. Ludger Rémy reveals a fine sense of style and
his performers tend to respond in kind. The Telemann Collegium of Michaelstein plays with an
infectious buoyance and grace, and the Chamber Choir of Michaelstein, in what little they have
to do here, is nicely attuned to that buoyance, as well. Additionally, in their contrapuntal
passages, the tidiness of their articulation is a particularly welcome stylistic plus. Of the soloists,
both soprano Dorothee Mields and bass Ekkehard Abele are outstanding, with resonant sounds
that yet remain focused and flexible, and impressive execution of ornamental sections. The
soprano aria “Itzt steigt er” from Er kam, lobsingt ihm is an especially memorable chance to hear
Mields’ effortless and alluringly pure tone. Tenor Knut Schoch shares in the articulative grace
and focused sound of his colleagues, though on occasion there is a hint of force in the high range.
Alto Elisabeth Graf sings expressively, but with an unusual tone, sometimes strident, sometimes
forced, and sometimes sounding like unresonant falsetto.
That criticism aside, this is a recording that will amply gratify, both in its stylistic flair and in its
exploration of the cantata after Bach. The exploration is a journey well taken, indeed, and Rémy
and his forces prove to be congenial guides.