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

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.

Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,

A Verlaine Songbook

Back in the LP days, if a singer wanted to show some sophistication, s/he sometimes put out an album of songs by famous composers set to the poems of one poet: for example, Phyllis Curtin’s much-admired 1964 disc of Debussy and Fauré songs to poems by Verlaine, with pianist Ryan Edwards (available now as a CD from VAI).

Giovanni Simone 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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

San Marco in Hamburg: Motets by Hieronymus Praetorius
19 Dec 2011

San Marco in Hamburg: Motets by Hieronymus Praetorius

In the first part of the seventeenth century, the north German city of Hamburg spawned an unusually rich organ culture, with Jacob Praetorius, the younger, and Heinrich Scheidemann both pupils of the famous Dutch organist, Jan Pieterzoon Sweelinck, as leading figures.

San Marco in Hamburg: Motets by Hieronymus Praetorius

Weser-Renaissance Bremen; Manfred Cordes, Director.

CPO 777 245-2 [CD]

$17.99  Click to buy

A subsequent generation would be led by players such as Matthias Weckmann and Johann Adam Reinken, this latter a figure to whom J. S. Bach would bend the knee in his well-chronicled trip to Hamburg in 1720. At the earlier end of the spectrum stands the figure of Hieronymus Praetorius (1560-29), father of Jacob, the younger, and himself successor to his father, Jacob the elder, at the famed Jakobikirche.

This organ culture was bred by the prominence of the city’s churches, of which the Petrikirche, Jakobikirche, Catharinenkirche, and Nikolaikirche were especially significant. And in this environment some of the organists provided not only organ music, but also notable liturgical music in the form of motet and canticle. Such is the case with Hieronymus Praetorius, featured here in the CD anthology “San Marco in Hamburg.” The reference to “San Marco” acknowledges the strong influence of the Venetian school of Giovanni Gabrieli. The path from Germany to Venice was reasonably well worn, with the travels of composers like Heinrich Schütz and Hans Leo Hassler often cited examples, but the rich sonorities of Venice captivated other composers who had never heard the music of San Marco in situ. This was the case with Hieronymus Praetorius (and also with the better known Michael Praetorius—no family relation), but if learned from afar, it is a musical style they assimilated with fluency.

In “San Marco in Hamburg” the ensemble Weser-Renaissance Bremen under the direction of Manfred Cordes explores the Italian-influenced motets of Hieronymus, and does so with a recording of distinction. Though some of the pieces are large-scale, Cordes compellingly takes them on with only 15 musicians—six singers singing one-to-a-part and 9 instrumentalists combining winds, strings, and continuo. The result is that in the sumptuous 12-voice “Jubilate Deo” that opens the recording, the sonic richness is a subtler taste to savor rather than a full-belted blast of power that overwhelms. And this holds true for the large number of 8-voice works, as well. Performed in this way, the clarity of motive, the unflagging attention to purity of intonation—such wonderful final chords in the sections of the “Magnificat”!—and general buoyance of the sound can come to the fore with very satisfying results.

The decorative passage work is well served by the one-to-a-part configuration, and in motets like “Cantate Domino,” this ornamental style sparkles as foil to the suave lilt of triple-meter tutti passages. Two of the motets, “Ab oriente and Wie lang” are performed as solo motets, with accompanying polyphonic voices played instrumentally. In “Ab oriente,” this gives a welcome chance to relish the fine control of alto Peter de Groot’s sensitive singing, and the plaintive ethereal sounds of soprano Monika Mauch in “Wie lang” offer one of the highlights of the recording.

Steven Plank

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):