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

Giovanni Simon Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Matthias Goerne: Bach Cantatas for Bass

In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death.  Goerne adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker bass register.

Gramophone Award Winner — Matthias Goerne Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge

Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category - Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach - Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.

Véronique Gens: Visions from Grand Opéra

Ravishing : Visions, Véronique Gens in a glorious new recording of French operatic gems, with Hervé Niquet conducting the Münchener Rundfunkorchester. This disc is a companion piece to Néère, where Gens sang familiar Duparc, Hahn, and Chausson mélodies.

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Edition Staatskapelle Dresden Vol. 17
13 Jul 2008

Gustav Mahler: Symphony no. 9; Richard Strauss: Tod und Verklärung

The late Guiseppe Sinopoli (1946-2001) became established as an estimable conductor of nineteenth-century music, and his legacy includes a number of fine recordings.

Gustav Mahler: Symphonie no.9 / Richard Strauss: Tod und Verklärung
Edition Staatskapelle Dresden Vol. 17

Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, Guiseppe Sinopoli (cond.)

Profil Medien PH07004 [2CDs]

$34.99  Click to buy

At the same time, Sinopoli was also a dynamic conductor, whose facility on the podium can be heard in recordings of concerts, such as the ones found on this recent release on Hänssler’s Profil series, which includes the performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony (completed 1909) recorded on 6 April 1997 at the Semperoper, Dresden, and Strauss’s well-known tone poem Tod und Verklärung (completed 1888-89) that is based on concerts given on 10 and 11 January 2001. The pairing of the two pieces was not intended by the conductor, but is fitting for various reasons. While Strauss’s tone poem antedates Mahler’s last completed symphony by a decade, the two works capture both composers in their maturity. By 1909 Strauss had shifted emphasis in compositions to opera, while Mahler was pursuing the concert works that demonstrate the ingenuity of his late style, as found in the symphonic song cycle Das Lied von der Erde and the Ninth Symphony. The latter, though, was never performed by Mahler, but had its premiere a year after its composer’s death under the direction of Bruno Walter. If Mahler’s posthumous reputation was retrenched in the 1960s with the well-known revival of interest in his works that took place around 1960, the Ninth Symphony remains one work that benefited from a number of fine recordings in the intervening years. It is a work that demands much from the orchestra and its conductor, a challenge that Sinopoli addressed well in this live recording of a concert performance.

Sinopoli had recorded this very work with the Philharmonia Orchestra four years earlier in 1993, a performance released on Deutsche Grammophon and currently available in the conductor’s set of Mahler’s symphonies. The earlier recording merits attention for various reasons, and a similar case may be made for the later one, which reflects Sinopoli’s ongoing exploration of the composer’s music. As one of Mahler’s later works, the orchestral style involves a kaleidoscopic mixture of chamber-music-like sonorities which demand a precise and attentive ensemble. Sinopoli is effective in achieving this, with the sometimes transparent scorings emerging clearly and the lines seeming almost seamless. If Sinopoli’s sense of rubato is apparent in the exposition of the first movement, it is a tribute to his command of the Staatskapelle Dresden, which responded well to him. The sometimes sudden entrances of the horns in that movement are clear and never stridently out of place. Rather, the pointillistic sounds fit together well under Sinopoli’s baton in this recording. Likewise, the strings act as a unit and offer the full, rich sound that Mahler required in this score, a sonority the stands in contrast to the concertato-like effects in the winds an brass. In the expansive tempos of the first movement, Sinopoli seems to revel in the sheer sound of the music, as occurs in the reminiscence of music from the First Symphony. With such pacing, it is possible to perceive the timbre-based units that Mahler used to support the structure of the work.

The approach to the subsequent movements is equally solid, with a masterful Scherzo that involves a fuller orchestral sound. Some of the shifts of tempo may seem, at times, idiosyncratic, as with the rubato used for the trombone passage in the first section. Sinopoli indulges in a somewhat slower interpretation of the middle section of the movement than some conductors allow, but his command of the movement is evident. The interaction of tempos is essential to the articulation of the musical structure, and Sinopoli makes the most of bringing out the distinctions he deemed necessary for his interpretation of the movement, as if to underline the differences that should be immediately apparent to the audience. A similar case may be made for the Rondo-Burleske, which includes a similar approach to the timbral distinctions between sections. At times the Rondo-Burleske possesses a drive that is sometimes lost in a live performance, and such intensity is welcome. (Unfortunately the copy on the jewel-case includes the attacca marking along with the title of the movement to render it as Attacca Rondo-Burleske.)

With the final movement, Sinopoli offers a spacious interpretation that balances his approach to the opening of the Symphony. In the Adagio-Finale, the string textures are quite effective, with a resonant and warm tone. Here the Staatskapelle Dresden demonstrates its fine core sound in a movement that is essentially chamber music on a grand scale. In this expansive interpretation it is possible to hear subtleties that sometimes escape notice. The sound is close, as occurs throughout the recording, and Sinopoli’s interpretation benefits from this perspective. As in the first movement, the various shifts of tone color serve to underscore the structure, and Sinopoli draws on them for maximum effect. The movement flows convincingly, with the full expression the music requires.

After the monumental Finale of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony another work may seem anticlimactic. Yet Sinopoli’s nuanced recording of Strauss’s late tone poem Tod und Verklärung somehow works well. Just as he brought out various colors of Mahler’s score, Sinopoli used a similar approach to the sometimes more broadly scored passages of Strauss’s work. With its implicitly personal program, the reflective tempos that Sinopoli uses in this recording are effective. Again, the seemingly close proximity of the microphones allows details to emerge easily, and the result is a memorable recording of Strauss’s score. The brasses shimmer without dominating, and the woodwinds offer some fine ensemble playing. The percussion, so important to this particular work, fit well into the structure and the program with appropriate incision.

Part of the ongoing audio archive of some of the exceptional performances of the Staatskapelle Dresden, this is a welcome addition to the already fine body of recordings already available. The recording of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony preserves Sinopoli’s later interpretation of a score that fits his style well, and those unfamiliar with his approach to Strauss’s music will find an excellent example of his work in Tod und Verklärung, a recording made not long before the conductor’s passing.

James L. Zychowicz

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):