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

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.

LALO and COQUARD: La Jacquerie

La Jacquerie—here recorded for the first time—proves to be a wonderful opera, bringing delight upon delight.

Urania Remasters Marriage of Figaro

Good news for lovers of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro: the famous Living Stereo recording, a co-production of RCA Victor and English Decca, is now available again, well remastered, on Urania.

Opera Rara: new recording of Bellini's Adelson e Salvini

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

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.

The "Lost" Songs of Morfydd Owen

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.

Early Swedish opera - Stenhammer world premiere

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.

Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 2

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.

The Tallis Scholars: Josquin's Missa Di dadi

‘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’.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Dmitri Hvorostovsky / Portrait
14 Nov 2007

Portraits of Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Olga Borodina

Philips decided some time ago that it no longer needed to be the audio representative for two fine contemporary singers of Russian origin, mezzo Olga Borodina and baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky / Portrait

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone, et al.

Decca 00289 475 7643 [2CDs]

$14.99  Click to buy

But the company is more than happy to recycle selections from the recordings the two artists made for the label and issue them in two-CD sets in their "Portrait" series.

The slim booklets for each set feature a cover photograph of the artist, with both clutching themselves and turning an enigmatic, suggestive smile to the camera. After the track listing comes a short bio in three languages, and then a page of all the producers, engineers, and recording locales of the original releases. No texts, of course.

As a retrospective of each singer's early maturity, the Hvorostovsky Portrait has an edge over Borodina's. CD 1 of the baritone's set has three Verdi arias from a recording with Valery Gergiev, and then 5 bel canto selections with Ion Marin. Then Gergiev returns, leading the Rotterdam Philharmonic in providing Hvorostovsky's support for the big Tchaikovsky baritone arias from Eugene Onegin and Pique Dame. The Kirov plays for Gergiev in the final 5 tracks of more Russian repertory (Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, and Rimsky-Korsakov).

This gives the listener an excellent taste of Hvorostovsky's operatic skills, his gorgeous tone and enviable breath control on display in every selection. Some find the voice almost too pretty for Verdi, but surely the baritone's Rodrigo from Don Carlo is without peer on the contemporary opera scene. The Largo al factotum is high-spirited, even without that traditional last falsetto cry of "Feeee-ga-ro." In the Russian pieces, the years have only added to the artist's depth of characterization, though these early 1990's recordings certainly satisfy on the sheer basis of vocal splendour.

Borodina_Portrait.png

Disc two begins with some "antiche arien," including Handel's Ombra mai fu. As Borodina also sings this on her set, this allows for a point of comparison. The mezzo lets her gorgeous voice fill out the melodic line, lusciously but ostentatiously. Hvorostovsky somehow seems to let his voice support the melody's innate loveliness, rather than compete with it, and his version is the lovelier for it. Some Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff songs follow, with piano accompaniment. An excellent recitalist, Hvorostovsky manages the tricky feat of making a recording feel like an intimate encounter. The dramatic conclusion of the set comes with Gergiev again leading the Kirov as the baritone sings the Shostakovich orchestration of Moussorgsky's "Songs and Dances of Death." Hvorostovsky's is not the darkest of voices, and he doesn't try to force an ugly edge. Instead, the very silkiness of his delivery plays against the text in a way that presents a sinister effect. There are more potent versions, but the music is very well served.

Borodina's set does more skipping around in musical eras. It starts with Dalila's big aria, then two from Rossini's Rosina. The Ombra mai fu is followed by Preziosilla's numbers from the Gergiev La Forza del Destino set. Instead of showing off the singer's versatility, unfortunately, this arrangement tends to emphasize the sameness of her artistic approach, which basically amounts to a reliance on the beauty of her instrument over characterization. Yes, she can sing Ponchielli, and Berlioz, and Purcell - but the singing doesn't reflect much of an awareness that these are very different composers.

The second disc, thankfully, is dedicated to Russian repertory (except for three quite charming songs from Falla's Siete canciones populares españolas. Whether in song or opera, Borodina in her native tongue has a life and a sensitivity in her singing less apparent in other languages. Here the undeniable lusciousness of her instrument is partnered with a detailed interpretative stance, and the greatness of her artistry is undeniable. The disc ends with a luscious performance of a Psalm from Rachmaninoff's Vespers. Even the famously glum Rachmaninoff would have smiled at the beauty here.

The many original releases that both these compilations came from would be very hard to track down these days, so fans of either singer who missed out on those discs should look for these "Portrait" CDs.

Chris Mullins

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):