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

Camille Saint-Saens: Mélodies avec orchestra

Saint-Saëns Mélodies avec orchestra with Yann Beuron and Tassis Christoyannis with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana conducted by Markus Poschner.

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV recreated at Versailles

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV, with Ensemble Pygmalion, conducted by Raphaël Pichon now on DVD/Blu -ray from Harmonia Mundi. This captures the historic performance at the Chapelle Royale de Versailles in November 2015, on the 300th anniversary of the King's death.

Tenebræ Responsories
recording by Stile Antico

Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories are designed to occupy the final three days of Holy Week, and contemplate the themes of loss, betrayal and death that dominate the Easter week. As such, the Responsories demand a sense of darkness, reflection and depth that this new recording by Stile Antico - at least partially - captures.

Mahler Symphony no 9, Daniel Harding SRSO

Mahler Symphony no 9 in D major, with Daniel Harding conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, new from Harmonia Mundi. A rewarding performance on many levels, not least because it's thoughtfully sculpted, connecting structure to meaning.

A Splendid Italian Spoken-Dialogue Opera: De Giosa’s Don Checco

Never heard of Nicola De Giosa (1819-85), a composer who was born in Bari (a town on the Adriatic, near the heel of Italy), but who spent most of his career in Naples? Me, neither!

Winterreise by Mark Padmore

Schubert's Winterreise is almost certainly the most performed Lieder cycle in the repertoire. Thousands of performances and hundreds of recordings ! But Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout's recording for Harmonia Mundi is proof of concept that the better the music the more it lends itself to re-discovery and endless revelation.

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Bohuslav Martinů

New recording of the English version of Bohuslav Martinů's The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Supraphon, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck. This is the world premiere recording of the text in English, the original language in which it was written.

Maybe the Best L’heure espagnole Yet

The new recording, from Munich, has features in common with one from Stuttgart that I greatly enjoyed and reviewed here: the singers are all native French-speakers, the orchestra is associated with a German radio channel, we are hearing an actual performance (or in this case an edited version from several performances, in April 2016), and the recording is released by the orchestra itself or its institutional parent.

Stéphanie d’Oustrac in Two Exotic Masterpieces by Maurice Ravel

The two works on this CD make an apt and welcome pair. First we have Ravel’s sumptuous three-song cycle about the mysteries of love and fantasies of exotic lands. Then we have his one-act opera that takes place in a land that, to French people at the time, was beckoningly exotic, and whose title might be freely translated “The Nutty and Delightful Things That Can Happen in Spain in Just One Hour”.

Stefano Secco: Crescendo

I had never heard of Stefano Secco before receiving this CD. But I see that, at age 34, he already has had a substantial career, singing major roles at important houses throughout Europe and, while I was not paying attention, occasionally in the US.

French orientalism : songs and arias, Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages : visions of the exotic East, a selection of French opera arias and songs from Sabine Devieilhe, with Alexandre Tharaud and Les Siècles conducted by François-Xavier Roth, new from Erato

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Gounod: Faust (highlights)
06 May 2008

French Opera highlights on Classics for Pleasure

Consumers might opt for a highlights set instead of a full recording of an opera for many reasons.

Gounod: Faust (highlights)

Gedda, de los Angeles, Blanc, Christoff, Berton, Gorr, Autran, Paris Opera Chorus & Orchestra, André Cluytens

EMI Classics for Pleasure 393 3762 [CD]

£6.99  Click to buy

Perhaps they own too many copies of the entire opera already but are attracted to one or two members of the cast on yet another set. Perhaps in a busy life, they really only ever have time or the desire to hear their favorite selections from an opera. And just maybe, in today's market, the complete set is no longer readily available.

Whatever the reason, lovers of French opera would do well to consider either or both of two sets from Classics for Pleasure's opera highlights series. The Gounod Faust, with Victoria De Los Angeles, Boris Christoff, and Nicolai Gedda conducted by André Cluytens, already enjoys a deservedly high reputation. CFP offers a generous 75 minutes of music, whereas the Puccini sets from this series recently reviewed here on operatoday had well under 60. Still, not that much is heard of Gedda in the title role until his big third act aria. In fact, nothing from the first act appears at all. As strong as Gedda is, having more of De Los Angeles's truly angelic Marguerite prompts no complaints. Some may regret an arguable lack of elegance in Christoff's Mephistopheles, but he certainly captures the character's demonic side. Ernest Blanc makes the most of Valentin's affecting music. The climatic trio loses some power when so abruptly excerpted, but all in all, this highlights set has ample evidence of why this recording has been so highly esteemed for so long.

Delibes_Lakme.pngThe Delibes Lakme set manages to be even more "French," with Alain Lombard leading the Paris Opéra-Comique forces and a cast of Mady Mesplé in the title role, Danielle Millet as her maid, and Charles Burles as Gerald, Lakme's English love interest. After Delibes's wonderful prelude, as enchanting as the best of his ballet music, this set takes the listener directly to the famous female duet. Mesple's sweet, high-set tone helps make the Indian princess a believable, not to mention attractive, character. She also manages the pyrotechnics of the "Bell Song" with a relaxed flair that benefits the music. The rest of the cast is able, but to be blunt, the score of Lakme, other than its just referenced well-known parts, tends to a generic craftsmanship. All the more reason to be grateful for this highlights set, then.

CFP provides track and cast listings, and a story synopsis tied to the tracks. Without any other notes of any kind, however, the booklet has to be called slim. But for a budget price, both of these sets can claim to be very fair value.

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):