Recently in Recordings
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.
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
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.
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.’
In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
27 Aug 2007
Carlos Cogul: Introduction
Carlos Cogul is a London vocal coach and an appreciated baritone giving many a recital ……in the London Tube while commuters hastily pass by to catch their trains. Judging from the photo on this CD he is not a young man any more.
Carlos Cogul: Introduction.
Arias from Il Barbiere, Un Ballo, Puritani, Don Giovanni, Pagliacci, Don
Carlo, Favorita, Trovatore, Otello, Rigoletto, songs.
Carlos Cogul, baritone, Compagnia d’Opera Italiana Orchestra, Antonello
It seems that the label discovered him while he was concertizing in
the draughty corridors of one or another station. I would be glad to report
that a major voice had been overseen by the opera houses but I fear this is
not completely true. Mr. Cogul has a light tenorish baritone, lacking heft in
his bottom notes. It is an agreeable sound with a slight vibrato but it is
not an operatic voice or to be more specific not a voice which is suited to
some of the heaviest arias in the baritone repertoire. There is something too
tentative in his singing, hardly daring to attack a note in Favorita; almost
like a conservatory student. Though the top is good it doesn’t have a real
G in Pagliacci where the voice starts to wobble.
There are some discrepancies too with the orchestra; the ‘Compagnia
d’Opera Italiana Orchestra’ conducted by Antonello Gotta. Now that name
is not unknown to me as he is the conductor of an enormous number of CD’s
which nevertheless are not to be found in most opera lovers' collections.
With his ad hoc orchestra Gotta produces “cantalopera” CD’s; that means
just the instrumental accompaniment to hundreds of arias for all kinds of
voices. Aspiring singers can then mix their own voice with the orchestra and
this explains the discrepancies on the CD. I fear Mr. Cogul is a victim of
the times. I’m sure he would have been a very attractive performer in
operetta and classical musical half a century ago but unhappily those times
have gone. Of course it must be frustrating for someone that probably far
less talented singers like Watson and Flanders own horror Helmut Lotti are
treated as if they have a voice but light baritones are not much in demand
anymore. Personally I enjoyed Mr. Cogul far more in his attractive version of
some pop songs and I would be glad to hear him in some Lloyd Webber. But it
is sometimes difficult to face the whole unmitigated truth on one’s own
vocal means when someone is severely bitten by the operatic bug as Mr. Cogul
is (he often ardently raises his voice on the web to praise a singer).