Recently in Recordings
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.
This live performance of Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne staging of
Humperdinck’s affectionately regarded fairy tale opera, was recorded at
Glyndebourne Opera House in July and August 2010, and the handsomely produced
disc set — the discs are presented in a hard-backed, glossy-leaved book and
supplemented by numerous production photographs and an informative article by
Julian Johnson — is certainly stylish and unquestionably recommendable.
Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic
selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary
versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano
Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of
songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime
friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at
the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’
In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi.
With celebrations of the Verdi Bicentennial in full swing, there have been
many grumblings about the precarious state of Verdi singing in the world’s
major opera houses today.
In the thirty-five years immediately following its American première at the Metropolitan Opera in 1914, Italo Montemezzi’s ‘Tragic Poem in Three Acts’ L’amore dei tre re was performed in New York on sixty-six occasions.
Few operas inspire the kind of competing affection and controversy that have surrounded Mozart’s Così fan tutte almost since its first performance in Vienna in 1790.
During his career in film, opera, and operetta, Richard Tauber (1891 - 1948) enjoyed the sort of global fame that eludes all but the tiniest handful of ‘serious’ singers today.
Known principally for its two concert show-pieces for the leading lady, the success of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur relies upon finding a soprano willing to take on, and able to pull off, the eponymous role.
It would be condescending and perhaps even offensive to suggest that singing
traditional Spirituals is a rite a passage for artists of color, but the musical heritage of the United States has been greatly enriched by the performances and recordings of Spirituals by important artists such as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks, Florence Quivar, Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, and Denyce Graves.
As a companion to their excellent Great Wagner Singers boxed set
compiled and released in celebration of the Wagner Bicentennial, Deutsche
Grammophon have also released Great Wagner Conductors, a selection of
orchestral music conducted by five of the most iconic Wagnerian conductors of
the Twentieth Century, extracted from Deutsche Grammophon’s extensive
There could be no greater gift to the Wagnerian celebrating the Master’s
Bicentennial than this compilation from Deutsche Grammophon, aptly entitled
Great Wagner Singers.
What better way for Masonic brothers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Emmanuel Shikaneder to disseminate Masonic virtues, than through the most popular musical entertainment of their age, a happy ending folktale that features a dragon, enchanting flutes and bells, mixed-up parentage, and a beautiful young princess in distress?
02 Mar 2008
The Sea Hawk and Deception
A typical film soundtrack today might not fill the length of a CD, while being padded with any pop music hits for which the producers would cough up the money for the rights. As often as not the scoring would...
A typical film soundtrack today might not fill the length of a CD, while being padded with any pop music hits for which the producers would cough up the money for the rights. As often as not the scoring would be light, with a tinkly piano/synth background. The Naxos series "Film Music Classics" takes listeners back to another era, with full orchestrations of melodically rich, evocative music. And there could be no better example than the two disc set which features Erich Wolfgang Korngold's full score to The Sea Hawk - almost 110 minutes of music. That should be enough to entice any fan of classic film scores, but Naxos adds on 30 minutes of music from the Korngold score for Deception, which includes a mini (7 minutes) cello concerto.
Korngold's The Sea Hawk works as a suite, with his brassy themes appearing in various guises over the course of the score. As would be expected, the music for action sequences tends to rely on rapid, ascending figures, and a little goes a long way. But there are also extended lyric passages, as well as brassy heroic music of a kind that clearly foreshadows the popular John Williams's scores for George Lucas and Steven Spielberg films. The first CD ends with the lovely "Maria's song," sung in barely recognizable English by soprano Irina Romishevskaya. Compared to the first disc, CD2 has a few more of the briefer cues that characterize many film scores. However, most of the tracks are over 3 minutes in length, so that the score hangs together. It's not profound music, but it delights the ear.
Deception, a lurid vehicle for Bette Davis and Claude Raines, gets a string-rich outpouring, with a lovely tune sometimes clouded over with chromatic passages that suggest Korngold's perhaps frustrated impulses as a composer of so-called "serious" music. He gets at least a few extended minutes to flex his compositional muscles in the abbreviated cello concerto that closes the disc, with cellist Alexander Zagorinsky's tone alternately sweet and impassioned.
Naxos supplies a generous 24-page booklet, with long essays about the films and also a tracking guide for each of the scores that connects the music to the storyline. John Morgan also contributes a note, detailing the score restoration he prepared to enable the recording to be made.
William Stromberg has led the Moscow Symphony Orchestra in many of the recordings of film scores for Naxos, and the performances due credit to the quality of the music. Never mind the bargain price, Naxos has simply released an exciting, enjoyable recording Lovers of film music will race out for it, and anyone anxious to hear some wonderfully melodic 20th century orchestral music should be right on their heels.