Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Henry Purcell, Royal Welcome Songs for King Charles II Vol. III: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers

The Sixteen continues its exploration of Henry Purcell’s Welcome Songs for Charles II. As with Robert King’s pioneering Purcell series begun over thirty years ago for Hyperion, Harry Christophers is recording two Welcome Songs per disc.

Anima Rara: Ermonela Jaho

In February this year, Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho made a highly lauded debut recital at Wigmore Hall - a concert which both celebrated Opera Rara’s 50th anniversary and honoured the career of the Italian soprano Rosina Storchio (1872-1945), the star of verismo who created the title roles in Leoncavallo’s La bohème and Zazà, Mascagni’s Lodoletta and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

Requiem pour les temps futurs: An AI requiem for a post-modern society

Collapsology. Or, perhaps we should use the French word ‘Collapsologie’ because this is a transdisciplinary idea pretty much advocated by a series of French theorists - and apparently, mostly French theorists. It in essence focuses on the imminent collapse of modern society and all its layers - a series of escalating crises on a global scale: environmental, economic, geopolitical, governmental; the list is extensive.

Ádám Fischer’s 1991 MahlerFest Kassel ‘Resurrection’ issued for the first time

Amongst an avalanche of new Mahler recordings appearing at the moment (Das Lied von der Erde seems to be the most favoured, with three) this 1991 Mahler Second from the 2nd Kassel MahlerFest is one of the more interesting releases.

Max Lorenz: Tristan und Isolde, Hamburg 1949

If there is one myth, it seems believed by some people today, that probably needs shattering it is that post-war recordings or performances of Wagner operas were always of exceptional quality. This 1949 Hamburg Tristan und Isolde is one of those recordings - though quite who is to blame for its many problems takes quite some unearthing.

Women's Voices: a sung celebration of six eloquent and confident voices

The voices of six women composers are celebrated by baritone Jeremy Huw Williams and soprano Yunah Lee on this characteristically ambitious and valuable release by Lontano Records Ltd (Lorelt).

Rosa mystica: Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir

As Paul Spicer, conductor of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir, observes, the worship of the Blessed Virgin Mary is as ‘old as Christianity itself’, and programmes devoted to settings of texts which venerate the Virgin Mary are commonplace.

The Prison: Ethel Smyth

Ethel Smyth’s last large-scale work, written in 1930 by the then 72-year-old composer who was increasingly afflicted and depressed by her worsening deafness, was The Prison – a ‘symphony’ for soprano and bass-baritone soloists, chorus and orchestra.

Songs by Sir Hamilton Harty: Kathryn Rudge and Christopher Glynn

‘Hamilton Harty is Irish to the core, but he is not a musical nationalist.’

After Silence: VOCES8

‘After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’ Aldous Huxley’s words have inspired VOCES8’s new disc, After Silence, a ‘double album in four chapters’ which marks the ensemble’s 15th anniversary.

Beethoven's Songs and Folksongs: Bostridge and Pappano

A song-cycle is a narrative, a journey, not necessarily literal or linear, but one which carries performer and listener through time and across an emotional terrain. Through complement and contrast, poetry and music crystallise diverse sentiments and somehow cohere variability into an aesthetic unity.

Flax and Fire: a terrific debut recital-disc from tenor Stuart Jackson

One of the nicest things about being lucky enough to enjoy opera, music and theatre, week in week out, in London’s fringe theatres, music conservatoires, and international concert halls and opera houses, is the opportunity to encounter striking performances by young talented musicians and then watch with pleasure as they fulfil those sparks of promise.

Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players: a world premiere recording

“It’s forbidden, and where’s the art in that?”

John F. Larchet's Complete Songs and Airs: in conversation with Niall Kinsella

Dublin-born John F. Larchet (1884-1967) might well be described as the father of post-Independence Irish music, given the immense influenced that he had upon Irish musical life during the first half of the 20th century - as a composer, musician, administrator and teacher.

Haddon Hall: 'Sullivan sans Gilbert' does not disappoint thanks to the BBC Concert Orchestra and John Andrews

The English Civil War is raging. The daughter of a Puritan aristocrat has fallen in love with the son of a Royalist supporter of the House of Stuart. Will love triumph over political expediency and religious dogma?

Beethoven’s Choral Symphony and Choral Fantasy from Harmonia Mundi

Beethoven Symphony no 9 (the Choral Symphony) in D minor, Op. 125, and the Choral Fantasy in C minor, Op. 80 with soloist Kristian Bezuidenhout, Pablo Heras-Casado conducting the Freiburger Barockorchester, new from Harmonia Mundi.

Taking Risks with Barbara Hannigan

A Louise Brooks look-a-like, in bobbed black wig and floor-sweeping leather trench-coat, cheeks purple-rouged and eyes shadowed in black, Barbara Hannigan issues taut gestures which elicit fire-cracker punch from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Alfredo Piatti: The Operatic Fantasies (Vol.2) - in conversation with Adrian Bradbury

‘Signor Piatti in a fantasia on themes from Beatrice di Tenda had also his triumph. Difficulties, declared to be insuperable, were vanquished by him with consummate skill and precision. He certainly is amazing, his tone magnificent, and his style excellent. His resources appear to be inexhaustible; and altogether for variety, it is the greatest specimen of violoncello playing that has been heard in this country.’

Those Blue Remembered Hills: Roderick Williams sings Gurney and Howells

Baritone Roderick Williams seems to have been a pretty constant ‘companion’, on my laptop screen and through my stereo speakers, during the past few ‘lock-down’ months.

Bruno Ganz and Kirill Gerstein almost rescue Strauss’s Enoch Arden

Melodramas can be a difficult genre for composers. Before Richard Strauss’s Enoch Arden the concept of the melodrama was its compact size – Weber’s Wolf’s Glen scene in Der Freischütz, Georg Benda’s Ariadne auf Naxos and Medea or even Leonore’s grave scene in Beethoven’s Fidelio.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Armida -- Annette Dasch
12 Nov 2007

Armida

As its name suggests, the selections on this wonderful new CD are all excerpted from five different versions of the tale of the beautiful enchantress “Armida.”

Armida

Annette Dasch, soprano, with the Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie, David Syrus, conductor

Sony 88697100592 [CD]

EUR 15,95  Click to buy

Looking at the history of the prolific treatments of this story, the liner notes proclaim her to be way “ahead of Medea as the stage’s Number One Sorcerer.” If quantity of composers’ interest alone didn’t put “Armida” in the lead, surely these superlative readings by German soprano Annette Dasch and company would alone propel our heroine to the forefront of operatic accomplishments.

Ms. Dasch encompasses all of the roles’ technical and artistic demands with aplomb. Moreover, she succeeds quite admirably in creating a different aural persona for each composer’s treatment. No matter how celebrated the artist, I often find such solo recitals eventually suffer from a certain sameness, unbroken by the variety of other vocal timbres in full opera recordings. Not really so with this one. The disc leads off with some splendid cuts from Gluck’s “Armide,” which slowly build in emotional conflict, tension, and release, characterized by increasingly plangent singing.

Immediately, I was drawn in by the soprano’s subtle word accents, coloring, and sensitivity to the text. Not to say that musical lines were slighted, oh no. She mined every delight in these offerings, from charming floated high notes, to phrases of throbbing and weighted dramatic conviction, to meaningful dramatic development of emotional state, to effective crescendi, to lyrical ascents of high tessitura. The voice is even throughout the range, capable of soaring with well-shaped legato phrases, as well as clean execution of angular and arpeggiated demands.

While the Handel pieces were more familiar, they did not at all suffer in comparison to other well-recorded versions. “Ah, crudel, il pianto mio” (“Rinaldo”) was a model of a controlled “torment,” witness her skilled start with a hushed, straight tone, which she then lets bloom into a full throbbing lamentation. The middle agitato section almost out-Bartoli’s-Bartoli with trip-hammer, spot-on, rapid-fire coloratura.

Jommelli’s “Armida Abbandonata” is well represented by “Ah! ti sento, mio povero core” (oh, that again!), featuring a silvery filigree of a voice over 3/4 pulses, superbly ornamented with immaculate trills and wide-ranging arpeggiated accents.

If the two perfectly fine selections from Handel’s “Armida Abbondonata” are the least “interesting” to my ears, perhaps it is because they are so familiar; or perhaps because by this point in mid-play I just wholly took it for granted that Annette Dasch is some kind of special singer; sort of, “oh, yeah, here is that rich tone, intelligent artistry, and knowing display of wide-ranging, arching lines. Again. Still.”

However, just as I might have been in danger of taking all this terrific singing for granted, I was jarred right back to proper attention with the juicy offerings from Haydn’s “Armida.”

Bold legato statements alternate with introspective moments of uncommon beauty, that give way to busy, hushed, mosquito-like fioritura and ornamentation, the whole of which amounts to an awesomely controlled display of idiomatic virtuosity.

It’s hard to believe that the Jommelli “Odio, furor, dispetto” (“Armida Abbandonata” again) is listed as a “Bonus Track.” I mean, who in their right mind would have thought to leave this fiery jewel off the recording? First, it is a wonderful contrast to the other introverted melodies, and second, Dasch sings the living hell out of it. Like Mozart’s “Elettra” in full meltdown, this is passionate, bravura singing complete with staccato ascending and descending laughs and cackles that are as meaningful as they are accurate.

The Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie under David Syrus is a satisfying accomplice in this accomplished music-making. Always solidly supporting Ms. Dasch, I especially delighted in their shimmering bucolic murmurings that marked portions of the Gluck set; the lilting, even sassy three-quarter-time playing in the first Jommelli aria; and of course, the stand-alone instrumental treats of the Gluck “Chaconne” and the Jommelli “Sinfonia.”

If there is truth in advertising, Ms. Dasch is also a lovely young woman as evidenced by the evocative cover and liner art. On disc, her handsome voice seems to have good size and potent allure. I look forward to hearing her live, with the hope that she would make as favorable and commanding an impression in person as she does on this wholly successful theme album.

James Sohre

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):