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

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,

A Verlaine Songbook

Back in the LP days, if a singer wanted to show some sophistication, s/he sometimes put out an album of songs by famous composers set to the poems of one poet: for example, Phyllis Curtin’s much-admired 1964 disc of Debussy and Fauré songs to poems by Verlaine, with pianist Ryan Edwards (available now as a CD from VAI).

Giovanni Simone Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Matthias Goerne: Bach Cantatas for Bass

In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death.  Goerne adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker bass register.

Gramophone Award Winner — Matthias Goerne Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge

Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category - Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach - Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.

Véronique Gens: Visions from Grand Opéra

Ravishing : Visions, Véronique Gens in a glorious new recording of French operatic gems, with Hervé Niquet conducting the Münchener Rundfunkorchester. This disc is a companion piece to Néère, where Gens sang familiar Duparc, Hahn, and Chausson mélodies.

John Joubert's Jane Eyre

Librettists have long mined the literature shelves for narratives that are ripe for musico-dramatic embodiment. On the whole, it’s the short stories and poems - The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin or Death in Venice, for example - that best lend themselves to operatic adaptation.

Through Life and Love: Louise Alder sings Strauss

Soprano Louise Alder has had an eventful few months. Declared ‘Young Singer of the Year’ at the 2017 International Opera Awards in May, the following month she won the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

A Master Baritone in Recital: Sesto Bruscantini, 1981

This is the only disc ever devoted to the art of Sesto Bruscantini (1919–2003). Record collectors value his performance of major baritone roles, especially comic but also serious ones, on many complete opera recordings, such as Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Victoria de los Angeles). He continued to perform at major houses until at least 1985 and even recorded Mozart's Don Alfonso in 1991, when he was 72.

Emalie Savoy: A Portrait

Since 1952, the ARD—the organization of German radio stations—has run an annual competition for young musicians. Winners have included Jessye Norman, Maurice André, Heinz Holliger, and Mitsuko Uchida. Starting in 2015, the CD firm GENUIN has offered, as a separate award, the chance for one of the prize winners to make a CD that can serve as a kind of calling card to the larger musical and music-loving world. In 2016, the second such CD award was given to the Aris Quartett (second-prize winner in the “string quartet” category).

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Detlev Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch should be a huge hit. Just as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana appeals to audiences who don't listen to early music (or even to much classical music), Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch has all the elements for instant popular success.

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Opera.be : The Yves Becko Collection
09 Oct 2007

The Yves Becko Collection

This must be one of the most interesting collectors’ collections to have appeared in many a year. Personally I’ve always liked any singer from Fernando De Lucia to Rolando Villazon but I never was tempted to collect shellac and therefore didn’t have to contact Yves Becko.

Opera.be: The Yves Becko Collection

Albers, Arral, Assy, Bergé, Blouse, Boons, Crabbé, Colmant, Decléry, Delvoye, Deschamps-Jehin, Dubois, Farrère, Fontaine, Forgeur, Ghasne, Gilibert, Gilly, Imbart de la Tour, Lasalle, Leblanc, Lefèvre, Lheureux, Maréchal, Mertens, Montfort, Noté, Revel, Saint-Cricq, Soulacroix, Sterkens, Swolfs, van Bosch, van Dijck, Verlet, Ysaÿe.

The koning Boudewijnfoundation 1622 [2CDs]

15 €  Click to buy

Becko was a Walloon engineer, one of the few Walloons able to speak acceptable Dutch, and at the end of his too short life the owner of a magnificent collection of 20.000 shellac records (including extreme rarities on Pathé), lots of cylinders etc. I know several collectors who had to deal with Becko and he was not one to sell cheap or to be generous to other members of the tribe. Anyway his wife and daughter sold the collection in its entirety to De koning Boudewijn (king Baldwin in English and not Baudouin as they always mistakenly call themselves) Foundation which handed the treasure to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library) at the Kunstberg in Brussels where appropriate measures will be taken to make it accessible.

Still it is a reality that in the matter of collectors’ records, Foundation and Becko family succeeded in making some decisions which lessen somewhat the pleasure of this important issue. The two CDs contain 60 interesting records and nowhere, not in the liner notes, not on the sleeve, can one find a date. Granted it is not always easy to have an exact date of recording but The Record Collector has proven for almost 60 years that with some research one can come near. This is especially galling as I don’t know who had the brilliant idea of putting all these selections in alphabetical order per singer. Now we get an acoustic followed by an electric followed by a cylinder followed by an acetate etc. Don’t try to look for evolution in the style of singing or the art of recording. The booklet is very luxuriously illustrated with many photographs but the notes themselves are far from interesting. Though a lot of the singers are very obscure, there are no biographical details. The buyer will have to purchase Dick Soper’s ‘Belgian Opera Houses and Singers’ and a complete set of Kutsch-Riemens if he wants some details on the singers. Nevertheless page after page is devoted to Mr. Becko (do we really have to know he liked Tony Poncet ?) and the kind of records he collected. Maybe this kind of non-information was a condition imposed by the family. A small essay on Belgian singers during the shellac days is just an enumeration of names. The koning Boudewijn Foundation is one of the last curiosities pretending that Belgium should stay as it is, denying the huge cleft on every issue between Flemings and Walloons. Therefore the Foundation should take care not to publish an essay that is offensive to one of two peoples. The author, Frédéric Lemmers is constantly referring to translations of songs and arias in Flemish. By now, Mr. Lemmers should finally know and acknowledge that Dutch is the language of Flanders; Flemish being a dialect known from Dunkirk (in France) to Middelburg (in the Netherlands) but not in the former duchy of Brabant where I am living though it is the heart of nowadays Flanders. I can assure Mr. Lemmers that the non-French selections on the CDs are sung in excellent Dutch, understood by everybody from Amsterdam to Brussels. This condescending attitude results in some mistakes as well. There was never a tenor Joseph Sterkens ; it was Jef Sterkens though ‘Joseph’ may well have been written on his birth certificate as he was born during the Walloon colonization of Flanders (nor is there a Joseph Fortuné Verdi, though these are the names on the birth certificate too). The creator of Werther was not Van Dyck but Van Dijck as proven by the tenor’s own signature.

Happily for the American collector, this will pale against the treasures to be found on these CDs. The transfers are excellent, pitched during long hours of work by my friend (a Walloon, would you believe it ?) Georges Cardol. Georges is a teacher of physics and a talented amateur-baritone, using the score, a piano and his gut feeling when pitching. He takes such care that, not being a shellac guy myself, he succeeded in instilling doubts in me when listening to some selections. Normally, I would have pronounced the Valère Blouse a tone too high but knowing Cardol’s care I probably am wrong. Was Blouse Flemish or Walloon ? some will ask. Neither. The producers (Lemmers, Couvreur, Cardol ) sold the idea of these CDs to the Foundation by telling them that it was an overview of Belgian singers and then they picked out recordings of some of the most rare and interesting singers in the Becko collection, a lot of them French.

The CDs start with four very fine recordings by Henri Albers, a Dutch baritone while French singers like Blouse, Deschamps-Jehin, Dubois, Gilibert, Gilly, Imbart, Leblanc, Saint-Cricq etc. are well represented. Therefore this is foremost a collection of singers who sang in the opera houses of Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp and Liège. Of course there are a lot of Flemish and Walloon singers too, not all of them exceptionally talented but represented by recordings which are extremely rare and almost not to be found elsewhere on CD ( exceptions are well known French singers like Soulacroix who is on well pitched “Truesound” but Saint-Cricq and Landouzy are only to be found on notoriously bad “Malibran”.) Several names were completely unknown to me and it doesn’t come as a surprise there are some dull dogs among them (Dectéry: squeezed; Delvoye: great voice but rough style). But with others we are in for a surprise: unknown Dubois who is almost as good as René Verdière; baritone Emiel van Bosch whom I finally can appreciate due to the fine transfers; Jeanne Montfort who made me sit up wit her Vivandière. Other names will be unknown in the States though they still ring a bell in this country but I’m sure every collector will be surprised by the wonderful spinto voice of Claudine Boons, by Madeleine Farrère so much better and less shrill than better known Clara Clairbert. Tenor Charles Fontaine has a whole CD, produced by Georges Cardol for his friends only (lucky me) but deserves to have an issue widely available. I admire the producers for avoiding cliché names like Bovy, Clairbert and especially Ansseau which would make this issue less interesting as they are already well represented on CD. And I admire them for including items by great names, even if the singing is less than great but now at last we can judge for ourselves if we appreciate the dry tone of Georges Imbart de la Tour or Georgette Leblanc. And the creator record of Flemish tenor Ernest van Dijck (“Pourquoi me réveiller” though he actually created Werther in German) proves that his best years were gone but that the voice was ample indeed. For 15 Euros this is a bargain and I hope these CDs will sell well. Take care to ask for the English language version. Welcome is the news that other labels will be allowed to mine the Becko collection too.

Jan Neckers

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):