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Two new recordings from highly acclaimed specialists Opera Rara -
Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe.
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.
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
Corona spinea (produced by Gimell Records) comes two years after The
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.
Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and
Carolyn Sampson has long avoided the harsh glare of stardom but become a favourite singer for “those in the know” — and if you are not one of those it is about time you were.
This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.
This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.
We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.
Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but
this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas
Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings
can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.
Bernarda Fink’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder is an important new release that includes outstanding performances of the composer’s well-known songs, along with compelling readings of some less-familiar ones.
Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.
This live performance of Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne staging of
Humperdinck’s affectionately regarded fairy tale opera, was recorded at
Glyndebourne Opera House in July and August 2010, and the handsomely produced
disc set — the discs are presented in a hard-backed, glossy-leaved book and
supplemented by numerous production photographs and an informative article by
Julian Johnson — is certainly stylish and unquestionably recommendable.
28 Jun 2012
Stanisław Moniuszko: Flis
Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) was one of the most popular composers of his day in Poland, and of the many works he wrote for the stage, two are performed from time to time, Halka (1848) and Strazny dwór [The Haunted Manor] (1865).
The recent recording of Flis [The Raftsman] (1858) makes another of Moniuszko’s operas available to modern audiences, and it is a solid contribution to the discography.
With its libretto (in Polish) by Stanisław Boguslawski hinged on the conflicts resulting arranged marriage and the reunion of two estranged brothers, Flis is not as distinguished dramatically as it is musically. In this attractive score Moniuszko offers a convincing portrait of Polish life. The number that opens the work is engaging, with the chorus supported well by the colorful orchestral accompaniment. In the number which follows, the heroine Zosia has an extended number which is captivating for in its florid character. With folk elements convincingly fused into Moniuszko’s musical idiom, the piece stands apart for its bel-canto-like style. Soprano Iwina Socha demonstrates her facility well in this piece, and the duet with bass Janusz Lewandowski who plays the soldier Szóstak. Supporting the voices is a richly textured orchestra, which evokes at times the idiom associated with Carl Maria von Weber and also, at times, some of the operas of Donizetti.
As to the story itself, Zosia loves the raftsman Franek, sung by tenor Bogusław Bidziński, but her father Antoni (Leszek Skrła) promised her to Jakub (Michal Partyka). In obeying her father’s wishes, Zosia must forego Franek’s love for the stability of a marriage with the barber Jakub. Franek reluctantly relinquishes any commitment he had with Zosia. As a result Franek decides to leave the community to seek his long-lost brother. Yet the ensuing conversation with Jakub reveals that he is the very person Franek sought. The brothers are reunited and Jakub blesses the marriage between Zosia and Franek at the conclusion of this one-act opera.
As Franek, Bogusław Bidziński is impressive, with supple, lyrical voice which matches nicely the fluid soprano voice of Iwina Socha. Bidziński’s voice fits the role well, with technique to excel in the vocal demands Moniuszko required in the role. Bidziński’s aria with chorus is notable for the way it reveals his character musical, just as the earlier piece gave a sense of Zosia’s role. Yet the musical and dramatic highpoint of Flis is the quartet between Zosia, Franek, Antoni, and Szóstak, which demonstrates the contrapuntal skill Moniuszko brought to this score. It anticipates the concluding ensemble, which brings the work to a satisfying conclusion.
This is an excellent recording of a work that deserves to be heard. As much as the essay in the booklet that accompanies the recording mentions performances of Flis in the twentieth century, those occasions are, unfortunately rare. Here Moniuszko expresses his own voice well and gives a sense of style of opera, which was popular in Poland in the mid-nineteenth century. Moreover, this is a laudable effort of the Zamku Opera, which boasts a fine chorus and clearly. The conductor Warcisław Kunc deserves credit for the convincing performance, which seems as natural as if he himself composed the score. The sound on this recording is solid, with a good balance between the voices and orchestra. To its credit, Dux released the recording with a full libretto in the original Polish, along with translations in English, German, and Italian. Those who may know Moniuszko’s work through only Halka or The Haunted Manor or, perhaps, the songs on a recent recording by Jadwiga Rappé, may find that Flis will enhance their appreciation of the composer.