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

Richard Strauss: Notturno

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 Sings Mahler Lieder

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.

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. 

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Anton Bruckner: Symphony no. 8 (rev. version, Nowak ed.)
27 Jun 2007

BRUCKNER: Symphony no. 8 (rev. version, Nowak ed.)

Established in 1985 by the United Nations, the World Philharmonic Orchestra gave its inaugural concert on 12 December 1985 under the auspices of UNICEF and the Konserthus, Sweden.

Anton Bruckner: Symphony no. 8 (rev. version, Nowak ed.)

World Philharmonic Orchestra, Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor.

Euroarts DVD 2051368

$22.99  Click to buy

Released only recently, this DVD captures that performance of World Philharmonic, an orchestra comprised of principal and solo players from all five continents into a single ensemble and led by the late Carlo Maria Giulini. The work chosen for the program suited this assembly of superb professionals, Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony in its revised version and, specifically, following the Nowak edition, and this concert shows Giulini in his prime.

Impossible as it is with this kind of ensemble to ascribe it a specialty, the intricacies of ensemble and interpretation are sufficient to challenge the professional involved with this global group. Yet the focus of the recording truly is Giulini, who brings forward a masterful interpretation of the last symphony that Bruckner saw to completion. The discography of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony includes some fine performances, notably a highly esteemed one with the Vienna Philharmonic led by Karajan. While that latter recording remains an impressive performance, it also represents Karajan’s approach to this works, which is highly dramatic and, as a result, deeply moving. In comparison, Giulini is, perhaps, more passionate than dramatic. In so doing, he draws out the various lines and motifs to shape the musical narrative. He pauses less than some conductors approach Bruckner, and so relies more on connecting the various musical lines than on defining smaller sections of phrase groups. The Scherzo of the Eighth almost requires this kind of approach in order to make sense of the various elements Bruckner introduced into it. While it is overtly a Scherzo, the movement includes gestures that the composer had previously used in some of his slow movements to contribute a level of intensity to some of the transitions. In approaching such aspects of Bruckner’s music, Giulini offers an interpretation that respects the score and simultaneously reflects his personal knowledge of the work.

For an event like the opening concert of the World Philharmonic Orchestra, the choice of Bruckner’s music may not be politically correct by the mores of that exist a generation later, when the idea of world music and native traditions is prominent. As laudable as such later awareness may be, in some situations it emphasizes the differences between cultures. It is also difficult to regard classical music as a lingua franca between global cultures. Yet perhaps the introspective nature of Bruckner’s music is a wise enough choice, especially in this late work by the composer, which is removed from his associations with Wagner or even the more tangible connections with Ländler that may be found in his earlier symphonic canvasses. In such a situation any work is, at best, a compromise. Yet this music has some abstract qualities that allow an international audience to appreciate its introspective character. If the extended applause at the end of this recording can be called into account, it demonstrates the success of the work in this context, masterfully interpreted by Giulini, one of the greatest conductors of the twentieth century. The sublime music at the conclusion of the slow movement transcends national and stylistic bounds in its profoundly human pathos that emerges from the pages of this late nineteenth-century score.

This DVD is a fine tribute to the World Philharmonic, which has continued to serve the international community in the two decades since its premiere concert. More information about the World Philharmonic Orchestra exists at its website (accessed 27 June 2007). It would have been useful to have more information about the WPO with this recording, but the introductory essay by Werner Pfister offers a bit more background on its inception and Giulini’s role with this concert. All in all, this recording is of interest as a unique sort of world premiere and fine contribution to Giulini’s discography. The sound is excellent, and the film itself is sensitive to the music, with lingering shots and slower pans fitting this work well. The close-ups of Giulini capture his expressive technique, while the views of the orchestra demonstrate their involvement with the music in this compelling performance of one of Bruckner’s masterpieces.

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):