Recently in Recordings
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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’.
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.
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Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the
Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement
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ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.
Two new recordings from highly acclaimed specialists Opera Rara -
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It is not often that a major work by a forgotten composer gets rediscovered
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This recording, made in the Adrian Boult Hall at the Birmingham Conservatoire of Music in June 2014, is the fourth disc in SOMM’s series of recordings with Paul Spicer and the Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir.
Félicien David’s intriguing Le désert, for vocal and orchestral forces plus narrator, was widely performed in its own day, then disappeared from the performing repertory for nearly a century.
This well-packed disc is a delight and a revelation. Until now, even the
most assiduous record collector had access to only a few of the nearly 100
songs published by Félicien David (1810-76), in recordings by such notable
artists as Huguette Tourangeau, Ursula Mayer-Reinach, Udo Reinemann, and Joan
Sutherland (the last-mentioned singing the duet “Les Hirondelles”
This new release of John Taverner’s virtuosic and florid Missa
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Tallis Scholars’ critically esteemed recording of the composer’s
Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, which topped the UK Specialist Classical
Album Chart for 6 weeks, and with which the ensemble celebrated their
40th anniversary. The recording also includes Taverner’s two
settings of Dum transisset Sabbatum.
Sounds swirl with an urgent emotionality and meandering virtuosity on Jonas Kaufmann’s new Puccini album—the “real one”, according
to Kaufmann, whose works were also released earlier this year on Decca records, allegedly without his approval.
Marion Cotillard and Marc Soustrot bring the drama to the sweeping score of Arthur Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au
bûcher, an adaptation of the Trial of Joan of Arc
Stephen Paulus provided the musical world, and particularly the choral world, with music both provocative and pleasing through a combination of lyricism and a modern-Romantic tonal palette.
Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.
As the editor of Opera magazine, John Allison, notes in his editorial in the June issue, Donizetti fans are currently spoilt for choice, enjoying a ‘Donizetti revival’ with productions of several of the composer’s lesser known works cropping up in houses around the world.
25 May 2012
Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge: Serate Musicali
Originally released on multiple discs in 1981 this reissue on two CDs is a comprehensive collection of art songs by Italian and French composers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
At the core of the compilation is Rossini’s Serate musicali, a set of eight pieces, which the composer put forward for the study of Italian song, and Joan Sutherland offers a fine interpretation of the set, with her husband Richard Bonynge. These pieces set the tone, with exemplary phrasing. At times it is difficult not to think of Sutherland's operatic accomplishments while listening to her performances of more intimate literature from the nineteenth century. Some might hold that Sutherland’s voice is darker here than on recordings of similar literature that she made earlier in her career, it is nonetheless useful to hear the mature interpretations of these songs. More than that, the other Italian artsongs merit attention for the perspectives they offer on the genre, with rarely recorded works by Leoncavallo, Respighi, Ponchielli, and others.
The remarkable feature of the release is the breadth of styles that the pair execute. With the character pieces of the Serate musicali serving as a point of departure, the recording includes some moving songs by Bellini, which deserve attention for the concise expression the composer brings to such a piece as Dolente imagine di Fille mia and Maliconia, ninfa gentile. Bellini’s Vaga luna, che inargenti is another fine piece, which Sutherland and Bonynge offer seemingly effortlessly. The unique contribution by Verdi, Il poveretto, is charming for what it is, but those unfamiliar with the contributions of Donizetti will find some attractive pieces in this collection, which also demonstrates Sutherland’s command of the genre.
Of the French literature collected in this set, Sutherland’s interpretations of pieces by Massenet demonstrates the qualities in Massenet’s mélodies, as well as selected works by Bizet, Thomas, Adam, and Delibes. Cécile Chaminade is also represented here with her Berceuse, which Sutherland renders persuasively. The Iberian tones of some of the French pieces offer another aspect of literature, as found in Lalo’s L’esclave and Delibes’ Les filles de Cadix.
The studio recordings have a spacious sound, albeit with a somewhat dry acoustic. The voice is prominent, as it should be, with Bonynge supporting with fine style. Sutherland is clear and resonant, as evident in some of the elaborate melismas of the opening set of songs by Rossini. Her glissandi are clean and effective, never out of place or affected. For both performers, the dynamic ranges is appropriate to the music and captured well on the recordings. The well-produced set includes a detailed booklet with not only the full track listings, but also texts and translations of each piece, along with a short commentary on the works. This recording offers not only a different side of the contributions Sutherland and Bonynge made during their careers, but brings to life music that represents an outpouring the romanticism in the over forty pieces in this impressive set.