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

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.

The "Lost" Songs of Morfydd Owen

A new recording, made late last year, Morfydd Owen : Portrait of a Lost Icon, from Tŷ Cerdd, specialists in Welsh music, reveals Owen as one of the more distinctive voices in British music of her era : a grand claim but not without foundation. To this day, Owen's tally of prizes awarded by the Royal Academy of Music remains unrivalled.

Early Swedish opera - Stenhammer world premiere

The Feast at Solhaug : Henrik Ibsen's play Gildet paa Solhaug (1856) inspired Wilhelm Stenhammer's opera Gillet på Solhaug. The world premiere recording is now available via Sterling CD, in a 3 disc set which includes full libretto and background history.

Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 2

Honours yet again to Oehms Classics who understand the importance of excellence. A composer as good, and as individual, as Walter Braunfels deserves nothing less.

The Tallis Scholars: Josquin's Missa Di dadi

‘Can great music be inspired by the throw of the dice?’ asks Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars, in his liner notes to the ensemble’s new recording of Josquin’s Missa Di dadi (The Dice Mass). The fifteenth-century artist certainly had an abundant supply of devotional imagery. As one scholar has put it, during this age there was neither ‘an object nor an action, however trivial, that [was] not constantly correlated with Christ or salvation’.

A Venetian Double: English Touring Opera

Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto was the composer’s fifteenth opera, and the ninth to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini (1615-1651). First performed at the Teatro Sant’Apollinaire in Venice on 28th November 1651, the opera by might have been sub-titled ‘Gods Behaving Badly’, so debauched are the deities’ dalliances and deviations, so egotistical their deceptions.

Walter Braunfels : Orchestral Songs Vol 1

New from Oehms Classics, Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 1. Luxury singers - Valentina Farcas, Klaus Florian Vogt and Michael Volle, with the Staatskapelle Weimar, conducted by Hansjörg Albrecht.

Lalo: Complete Songs

Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement violin concerto), the Symphony in G Minor, and perhaps some movements from his ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.

New from Opera Rara : Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe

Two new recordings from highly acclaimed specialists Opera Rara - Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe.

Félicien David: Herculanum

It is not often that a major work by a forgotten composer gets rediscovered and makes an enormously favorable impression on today’s listeners. That has happened, unexpectedly, with Herculanum, a four-act grand opera by Félicien David, which in 2014 was recorded for the first time.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

LSO Live 668
27 Feb 2012

Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Based on performances given on 2 and 3 March 2011 (at the Barbican, London), Valery Gergiev’s recording of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony is an engaging and persuasive reading of the score.

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 9

London Symphony Orchestra. Valery Gergiev, conductor.

LSO Live 668 [SACD]

$16.99  Click to buy

The nature of the work itself requires the sophisticated engineering found with this release, which allows the subtleties to be heard clearly throughout, from the thing, soft textures at the opening of the first movement to the raucous tutti passages in the Rondo-Burleske. Along with the finesse implicit in the dynamic levels, the ambiance conveys the concerts which are the basis of this release, with the tension and dynamism of the performances. This is an interpretation which contributes to the existing discography of the Ninth Symphony because of the details that Gergiev brings to his reading of this important work from the early twentieth century.

As far as timings are concerned, the proportions match convention, with the first movement, 27:02; the second, 15:10; the third, 12:35; and the Finale, 24:24. The entire work is available on a single disc, packaged nicely with concise liner notes by Stephen Johnson. As useful as the essay is, the performance begs the question of Gergiev’s perspectives on this score. His interpretation of the first movement makes the structure palpable, without sacrificing expression. In this recording the opening measures are nicely detached, an approach that allows the motive to stand out when it recurs. At the same time, the clarity of the string textures is reproduced clearly in this recording, such that the middle voices emerge with ease. The brass are similarly articulate in this movement. The horns are prominent where required, and fit well into the timbres Mahler scored so precisely.

Gergiev’s tempos are spacious, with his pacing supporting both the thematic content and structure. The details are present without slavish adherence to the letter of the score. Gergiev offers an aggressive interpretation of this consummate work of Mahler’s symphonic oeuvre. In balancing the rich romantic sounds of the first movement with the chamber-music-like sonorities it also contains, Gergiev creates a dynamic in which the timbre is as expressive an element of the thematic material. The Coda of the first movement is eloquent in the way the music dissolves into the sonorities with which the structure concludes.

Tempo is critical for the second movement, where Gergiev’s master of the piece is apparent from the start. If Mahler is the master of transition, as one commentator once stated, Gergiev has mastered this aspect of the second movement in allowing the various sections of the piece flow together naturally. Nothing is out of place here, but presented as logically as it is performed with expression. In this performance the middle section is memorably impetuous, such that it sets up the reprise of the opening material effectively.

With the Rondo-Burleske, Gergiev offers an energetic reading of the score. The irony that Mahler composed in this piece is apparent in the style he used in this performance. Beyond the mastery of transitions, Gergiev offers a sense of continuity that allows the ideas to flow convincingly between the individual phrases to create well-articulated passages that bring to musical narrative to an exciting, if breathless conclusion.

Yet in bringing the Ninth to its conclusion, the final movement has the breadth it deserves. While never allowing the movement to languish, Gergiev’s interpretation is particularly moving. As with the first movement, the Finale dissolves into the individual sounds that Mahler used in the concluding section. The interpretation is profound, not maudlin, with the gravity of the Finale balancing the sonata form of the first movement in a recording that elicits repeated hearings. This is a fine performance, which enhances the contributions Gergiev has already made to the Mahler discography with his other releases on LSO Live.

Jim 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):