Recently in Recordings
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.
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.
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.