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

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):