Recently in Recordings
In May 2016, Opera Rara gave Bellini aficionados a treat when they gave a concert performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, at the Barbican Hall. The preceding week had been spent in the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, and this recording, released last month, is a very welcome addition to Opera Rara’s bel canto catalogue.
Jonas Kaufmann Mahler Das Lied von der Erde is utterly unique but also works surprisingly well as a musical experience. This won't appeal to superficial listeners, but will reward those who take Mahler seriously enough to value the challenge of new perspectives.
A new recording, made late last year, Morfydd Owen : Portrait of a Lost Icon, from Tŷ Cerdd, specialists in Welsh music, reveals Owen as one of the more distinctive voices in British music of her era : a grand claim but not without foundation. To this day, Owen's tally of prizes awarded by the Royal Academy of Music remains unrivalled.
The Feast at Solhaug : Henrik Ibsen's play Gildet paa Solhaug (1856) inspired Wilhelm Stenhammer's opera Gillet på Solhaug. The world premiere recording is now available via Sterling CD, in a 3 disc set which includes full libretto and background history.
Honours yet again to Oehms Classics who understand the importance of excellence. A composer as good, and as individual, as Walter Braunfels deserves nothing less.
‘Can great music be inspired by the throw of the dice?’ asks Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars, in his liner notes to the ensemble’s new recording of Josquin’s Missa Di dadi (The Dice Mass). The fifteenth-century artist certainly had an abundant supply of devotional imagery. As one scholar has put it, during this age there was neither ‘an object nor an action, however trivial, that [was] not constantly correlated with Christ or salvation’.
Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto was the composer’s ﬁfteenth opera, and the ninth to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini (1615-1651). First performed at the Teatro Sant’Apollinaire in Venice on 28th November 1651, the opera by might have been sub-titled ‘Gods Behaving Badly’, so debauched are the deities’ dalliances and deviations, so egotistical their deceptions.
New from Oehms Classics, Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 1. Luxury singers - Valentina Farcas, Klaus Florian Vogt and Michael Volle, with the Staatskapelle Weimar, conducted by Hansjörg Albrecht.
Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the
Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement
violin concerto), the Symphony in G Minor, and perhaps some movements from his
ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.
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.
27 Nov 2007
Johann Pachelbel. Arien & Concerti
Although few composers have been so closely associated with a single work, Johann Pachelbel, whose canon for three violins has achieved canonical ubiquity, was a prolific composer with a number of vocal works to his credit.
This present recording brings together a number of them written for both devotional use and secular occasions, such as weddings, name days, and salutes to patrons and teachers. Most are strophic airs for one or two singers and strings, the latter providing interludes that serve to punctuate and articulate the structural boundaries of the vocal setting. Occasionally the interludes are particularly rich in sonority—“Mein Leben, dessen Kreutz” and “Augen, streuet Perlen Tränen” use four violas, for instance—and often they are engagingly rollicking.
The concertos on the recording are through-composed works, affording more expressive range for singer and instrumentalist alike, intertwining both in equal measure of soloistic writing. In some instances the concertos are cantata-like with multiple sections, including triple-meter lilting airs, as in “Ach Herr, wie ist meiner Feinde so viel,” and the instrumental writing can be floridly soloistic, as in the scordatura violin part to “Christ ist erstanden.” Here, and in “Ach Herr, wie ist meiner Feinde so viel,” the unflaggingly stylish playing of Ingrid Seifert of London Baroque is impressively on display.
Somewhat singular among the arias and concertos is the aria “Mœcenas lebet noch,” a salute to a person whose likely high rank elicited the scoring for obligatto trumpet. Michael Maisch performs this part with a compelling degree of vocality, and the tunefulness of the aria has a gratifying lilt, a lilt captured with animated relish in many of the arias in the collection. If “Mœcenas lebet noch” is singular, nevertheless most of the arias are cut of the same cloth, and the similarity is underscored here by the repetition of the strophic form. Some of the arias survive with only one stanza of text, and given the uniformity of the style, one might wonder at their inclusion; fragments, they are of necessity brief, but in their brevity they also contribute little that is new. Archivally it is welcome to have them recorded, but programmatically they seem a bit anomalous.
The performers are an impressive assembly. Emma Kirkby continues to command the amazingly clear articulation that has characterized her singing for many decades, and the rapid passage work here is wonderfully fluent. Tenor Jan Kobow is strong and intense, though he also has some fine expressive forays into the soft range in “Wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig.” The most memorable singing is from bass Klaus Mertens, whose rounded tone and flexible agility offers much to savor.
The collection Arien & Concerti provides many rewarding moments. Programmatically the generic similarity between the arias may suggest it is more a recording to sample than to listen to straight through, but the sampling (or the larger serving) will not fail to gratify.