Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

A Falstaff Opera in Shakespeare’s Words: Sir John in Love

Only one Shakespeare play has resulted in three operas that get performed today (whether internationally or primarily in one language-region). Perhaps surprisingly, the play in question is a comedy that is sometimes considered a lesser work by the Bard: The Merry Wives of Windsor.

A Resplendent Régine Crespin in Tosca

There have to be special reasons to release a monophonic live recording of a much-recorded opera. Often it can give us the opportunity to hear a singer in a major role that he or she never recorded commercially—or did record on some later occasion, when the voice was no longer fresh. Often a live recording catches the dramatic flow better than certain studio recordings that may be more perfect technically.

Karine Deshayes’s Astonishing New Rossini Recording

Critic and scholar John Barker has several times complained, in the pages of American Record Guide, about Baroque vocal recitals that add instrumental works or movements as supposed relief or (as he nicely calls them) “spacers.”

Knappertsbusch’s Only Recording of Lohengrin Released for the First Time

Hans Knappertsbusch was one of the most renowned Wagner conductors who ever lived. His recordings of Parsifal, especially, are near-legendary among confirmed Wagnerians.

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered, from SOMM Recordings, makes available on CD archive broadcasts of British and German song. All come from BBC broadcasts made between 1947 and 1952. Of the 26 tracks in this collection, 19 are "new", not having been commercially released. The remaining seven have been remastered by sound restoration engineer Ted Kendall. Something here even for those who already own the complete recordings.

Color and Drama in Two Choral Requiems from Post-Napoleonic France

The Requiem text has brought out the best in many composers. Requiem settings by Mozart, Verdi, and Fauré are among the most beloved works among singers and listeners alike, and there are equally wondrous settings by Berlioz and Duruflé, as well as composers from before 1750, notably Jean Gilles.

Matthias Goerne - late Schumann songs, revealed

Matthias Goerne Schumann Lieder, with Markus Hinterhäuser, a new recording from Harmonia Mundi. Singers, especially baritones, often come into their prime as they approach 50, and Goerne, who has been a star since his 20's is now formidably impressive. The colours in his voice have matured, with even greater richness and depth than before.

LALO and COQUARD: La Jacquerie

La Jacquerie—here recorded for the first time—proves to be a wonderful opera, bringing delight upon delight.

Urania Remasters Marriage of Figaro

Good news for lovers of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro: the famous Living Stereo recording, a co-production of RCA Victor and English Decca, is now available again, well remastered, on Urania.

Opera Rara: new recording of Bellini's Adelson e Salvini

In May 2016, Opera Rara gave Bellini aficionados a treat when they gave a concert performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, at the Barbican Hall. The preceding week had been spent in the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, and this recording, released last month, is a very welcome addition to Opera Rara’s bel canto catalogue.

Jonas Kaufmann : Mahler Das Lied von der Erde

Jonas Kaufmann Mahler Das Lied von der Erde is utterly unique but also works surprisingly well as a musical experience. This won't appeal to superficial listeners, but will reward those who take Mahler seriously enough to value the challenge of new perspectives.

The "Lost" Songs of Morfydd Owen

A new recording, made late last year, Morfydd Owen : Portrait of a Lost Icon, from Tŷ Cerdd, specialists in Welsh music, reveals Owen as one of the more distinctive voices in British music of her era : a grand claim but not without foundation. To this day, Owen's tally of prizes awarded by the Royal Academy of Music remains unrivalled.

Early Swedish opera - Stenhammer world premiere

The Feast at Solhaug : Henrik Ibsen's play Gildet paa Solhaug (1856) inspired Wilhelm Stenhammer's opera Gillet på Solhaug. The world premiere recording is now available via Sterling CD, in a 3 disc set which includes full libretto and background history.

Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 2

Honours yet again to Oehms Classics who understand the importance of excellence. A composer as good, and as individual, as Walter Braunfels deserves nothing less.

The Tallis Scholars: Josquin's Missa Di dadi

‘Can great music be inspired by the throw of the dice?’ asks Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars, in his liner notes to the ensemble’s new recording of Josquin’s Missa Di dadi (The Dice Mass). The fifteenth-century artist certainly had an abundant supply of devotional imagery. As one scholar has put it, during this age there was neither ‘an object nor an action, however trivial, that [was] not constantly correlated with Christ or salvation’.

A Venetian Double: English Touring Opera

Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto was the composer’s fifteenth opera, and the ninth to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini (1615-1651). First performed at the Teatro Sant’Apollinaire in Venice on 28th November 1651, the opera by might have been sub-titled ‘Gods Behaving Badly’, so debauched are the deities’ dalliances and deviations, so egotistical their deceptions.

Walter Braunfels : Orchestral Songs Vol 1

New from Oehms Classics, Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 1. Luxury singers - Valentina Farcas, Klaus Florian Vogt and Michael Volle, with the Staatskapelle Weimar, conducted by Hansjörg Albrecht.

Lalo: Complete Songs

Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement violin concerto), the Symphony in G Minor, and perhaps some movements from his ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.

New from Opera Rara : Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe

Two new recordings from highly acclaimed specialists Opera Rara - Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe.

Félicien David: Herculanum

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Georg Philipp Telemann: Komm Geist des Herrn: Late Cantatas
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.

Georg Philipp Telemann: Komm Geist des Herrn — Late Cantatas

Dorothee Mields, soprano; Elisabeth Graf, alto; Knut Schoch, tenor; Ekkehard Abele, bass; Kammerchor Michaelstein; Telemannisches Collegium Michaelstein; Ludger Rémy, Director

CPO 777 064-2 [CD]

$14.49  Click to buy

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.

Steven Plank

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):