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Paul Dukas’ Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, first heard in 1907, once seemed important. Arturo Toscanini conducted the Met premiere in 1911 with Farrar and later arranged some of its music for a 1947 recording with his NBC Symphony.
The economics of the recording companies dictate much that is not ideal.
Wagner’s operas were not composed as they were in order to permit the
extraction of bleeding chunks, even on those occasions when strophic song forms
Among the recent recordings of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Valery Gergiev’s release on the LSO Live label is an excellent addition to the discography of this work.
While not unknown, the songs of Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871-1942) deserve to be heard more frequently.
Recorded on 5 and 6 May 2008 and 17 and 18 January 2009 at the Lisztzentrum (Raiding, Austria), this recent Bridge release makes available the piano-vocal versions of three song cycles by Gustav Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert-Lieder, and Kindertotenlieder performed by mezzo-soprano Hermine Haselböck, accompanied by Russell Ryan.
Contraltos rarely achieve the acclaim and renown of sopranos. Assigned few leading roles in opera, they are condemned to playing the villain or the grandmother, or to stealing the castrati’s trousers in en travesti roles.
Following their 2011 Decca recording of Striggio’s Mass in 40 Parts (1566), I Fagiolini continue their quest to unearth lost treasures of the High Renaissance and early Baroque, with this collection of world-premiere recordings, ‘reconstructions’ and ‘reconstitutions’ of music by Giovanni and Andrea Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Palestrina, and their less well-known compatriots Viadana, Barbarino and Soriano.
Eternal Echoes is an album of khazones [Jewish cantorial music] for cantorial soloist, solo violin and a blended instrumental ensemble comprising a small orchestra and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.
Michael Tilson Thomas’s recording of Mahler’s Third Symphony is an outstanding contribution to the composer’s discography.
Oliver Knussen burst into British music with an unprecedented flourish. In 1967, the London Symphony Orchestra premiered Knussen’s First Symphony, with István Kertész scheduled to conduct.
Based on performances given in Summer 2010 at the Lucerne Festival, this recording of Beethoven’s Fidelio is an admirable recording that captures the vitality of the work as conducted by Claudio Abbado.
Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) was one of the most popular composers of his day in Poland, and of the many works he wrote for the stage, two are performed from time to time, Halka (1848) and Strazny dwór [The Haunted Manor] (1865).
The Polish alto Jadwiga Rappé is a familiar voice in various stage and concert works, and the recent release of a selection of songs by Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) is an opportunity to hear her performing artsongs.
Originally released on multiple discs in 1981 this reissue on two CDs is a comprehensive collection of art songs by Italian and French composers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
An exciting contribution to the discography of this popular opera, the live performance of Richard Strauss’s Salome from the Festspielhaus at Baden-Baden is a compelling DVD.
Released in late 2011, Deutsche Grammophon’s DVD of the new staging of Berg’s Lulu at the Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona is an excellent contribution to the discography of this fascinating opera.
A recent release by the Metropolitan Opera, this two-disc set makes available on DVD the famous performance of Berg’s Lulu that was broadcast on 20 December 1980 as part of the PBS series “Live from the Met.”
The novels of Sinclair Lewis once shot across the American literary skies like comets, alarming and fascinating readers of that era, but their tails didn’t extend far behind them.
Once the province of only the most dedicated opera fanatics, mid-20th century recordings of privately taped live performances have become more widely available.
Flute players in opera orchestra around the world must look forward to the frequent appearances of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, knowing that while the stage spotlight in the mad scene will be on the soprano, the orchestral spotlight will be on their instrument.
07 Jan 2008
This disc is well worth the price for the first track alone: the opening measures of Jean-Féry Rebel’s “Cahos,” (Chaos), written in 1737 or 1738, may cause you to wonder if you accidentally left a Stockhausen or Ligeti disc in the changer.
According to the composer’s preface to the
published score, the opening fortissimo chord, containing all seven notes of
the scale, represents “that confusion which reigned between the elements
before the moment when . . . they took the places prescribed for them by the
nature’s order.” What follows is literally chaotic: each of the elements
has its own leitmotif and key, and they clash and conflict in nearly random
fashion. A throbbing bass note represents Earth; Water is a flute scale; Air
is a series of flute trills, and Fire is represented by high, rapid violin
notes; they resolve themselves into a coherent and dramatic D minor tonality
only at the end of the movement. What follows is a pleasant, but far more
pedestrian, ballet suite in D major, intended for the Paris Opéra.
Although Les Élémens was originally written for an orchestra of
about fifty players, the published version is set up to permit concert
performance by two violins, two flutes and a bass, or private performance by
violin and harpsichord, or by harpsichord alone. Christopher Hogwood and the
Academy of Ancient Music, in this digital remastering of an analog recording
that won the French Grand prix du disque in the early days of the
historical performance movement, thus fall somewhere in the middle, with an
ensemble of about twenty which includes future superstars Monica Huggett and
Simon Standage. Two all-digital recordings of Les Élémens are
currently available from Les Musiciens du Louvre (1993) and Musica Antiqua
Köln (1995); both of them use approximately the same performing forces. To
hear the chamber version, one must track down the hard-to-get recording by
the Palladian Ensemble (Linn Records, U.K., 2003).
The other work on this CD is a suite of excerpts from another ballet, also
entitled Les Élémens. Rebel was probably familiar it, since the
six-year-old King Louis XV danced in its first performance in 1721. The
booklet lists it as being composed by André Cardinal Destouches, who was at
that time the Inspector General of the Paris Opéra, but many of the
movements were actually among the last works of court composer Michel-Richard
de Lalande. The recording includes the overture, the “Air” numbers, and
the “Water” numbers, and the “Fire” chaconne. Unlike the Rebel piece,
little attempt is made to represent the elements programmatically. Lalande
and Destouches rely on the scenery and costumes; the overture contains no
vestige of the “fire spouting from volcanoes” that would have been
visible onstage. Although this work is far more conventional than the Rebel
piece, it is still well worth hearing, and the Academy’s recording appears
to be the only one currently available.
University of California, Davis