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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.
16 Sep 2007
SCHEIDT: Ludi Musici
The courtly instrumental music of the Halle composer, Samuel Scheidt, is preserved in the printed collection "Ludi musici" (1620), giving congenial suggestion of both the richness of the court practice and the virtuosic abilities of the ensemble players there, including the cornettist, Zacharias Härtel.
The collection features canzonas—instrumental works in the style of popular song, here often based on well-known melodies like “Est-ce Mars?”—and dances, some of which have complexity and programmatic content enough to set them apart from the more work-a-day variety.
The venerable French cornett and trombone ensemble, Les Sacqueboutiers, offer in this recording a well-chosen selection from the collection, and they do so with an eye to variety. The pieces themselves, though in a language that is somewhat generic, are sparked with elaborate variations and compelling metrical shifts. And additionally, some pieces represent more developed versions of themes put forth in other pieces. To this intrinsic variety Les Sacqueboutiers adds the spice of percussion, plucked strings and organ, and frequent reduction of textures—one dance, for instance becomes an elegant solo for trombone—all towards nurturing this aesthetic of variety.
The performances are highly accomplished with stunningly pure intonation, beautifully contoured phrases and shapely individual notes, and in the cornetts a particularly liquid articulation. In the sense of shaping, the recording recalls and compares well with the earlier performances of Jordi Savall and Hesperion XX (EMI Reflex 1C 065 30 943 Q ; CD re-release EMI CDM 7 63067 2 ), a recording that set the standard high for this repertory and a recording on which Jean-Pierre Canihac, one of the founding directors of Les Sacqueboutiers, took part. The pedigree is gratifyingly apparent.
In some of the pieces Scheidt aims at a high degree of dynamism. The Paduan VI, for instance, begins with high elegance—a quality that the ensemble renders with an irresistible sense of swoon—that eventually gives was to spirited figuration. The players handle the figuration here and in other intricate examples with flair and seeming ease, but more impressive is the sensitivity to the dynamism itself, the notion that things grow and blossom forth.
Some will wish for a more diverse ensemble, missing the juxtaposition of strings and winds that is so much a part of the Savall recording and also the recent recording by Roland Wilson and Musica fiata (cpo 777 013-2). And occasionally here the percussion may seem a tad too exotic in its patterns. But, in the end, Les Sacqueboutiers offers an engaging reading of a repertory that is foundational to their core instrumentation. The early baroque wind band repertory is graced with these pieces, and we are similarly graced by the excellent performance here.