Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Unusual and beautiful: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts the music of Raminta Šerkšnytė

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts the music of Raminta Šerkšnytė with the Kremerata Baltica, in this new release from Deutsche Grammophon.

Diana Damrau sings Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder on Erato

“How weary we are of wandering/Is this perhaps death?” These closing words of ‘Im Abendrot’, the last of Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder, and the composer’s own valedictory work, now seem unusually poignant since they stand as an epitaph to Mariss Jansons’s final Strauss recording.

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 3 & 4 from Hyperion

Latest in the highly acclaimed Hyperion series of Ralph Vaughan Williams symphonies, Symphonies no 3 and 4, with Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, recorded in late 2018 after a series of live performances.

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Thomanerchor and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

This Accentus release of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, recorded live on 15/16th December 2018 at St. Thomas’s Church Leipzig, takes the listener ‘back to Bach’, so to speak.

Retrospect Opera's new recording of Ethel Smyth's Fête Galante

Writing in April 1923 in The Bookman, of which he was editor, about Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate (1913-14) - the most frequently performed of the composer’s own operas during her lifetime - Rodney Bennett reflected on the principal reasons for the general neglect of Smyth’s music in her native land.

A compelling new recording of Bruckner's early Requiem

The death of his friend and mentor Franz Seiler, notary at the St Florian monastery to which he had returned as a teaching assistant in 1845, was the immediate circumstance which led the 24-year-old Anton Bruckner to compose his first large-scale sacred work: the Requiem in D minor for soloists, choir, organ continuo and orchestra, which he completed on 14th March 1849.

Emmerich Kálmán: Ein Herbstmanöver

Brilliant Emmerich Kálmán’s Ein Herbstmanöver from the Stadttheater, Giessen in 2018, conducted by Michael Hofstetter now on Oehms Classics, in a performing version by Balázs Kovalik.

Liszt Petrarca Sonnets complete – Andrè Schuen, Daniel Heide

An ambitious new series focusing on the songs of Franz Liszt, starting with all three versions of the Tre Sonetti del Petrarca, (Petrarca Sonnets), S.270a, S.270b and S.161 with Andrè Schuen and Daniel Heide for Avi-music.de.

Une soirée chez Berlioz – lyrical rarities, on Berlioz’s own guitar

Une soirée chez Berlioz – an evening with Berlioz, songs for voice, piano and guitar, with Stéphanie D’Oustrac, Thibaut Roussel (guitar), and Tanguy de Williencourt (piano).

A Baroque Christmas from Harmonia Mundi

A baroque Christmas from Harmonia Mundi, this year’s offering in their acclaimed Christmas series. Great value for money - four CDs of music so good that it shouldn’t be saved just for Christmas. The prize here, though is the Pastorale de Noël by Marc-Antoine Charpentier with Ensemble Correspondances, with Sébastien Daucé, highly acclaimed on its first release just a few years ago.

Christmas at St George’s Windsor

Christmas at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, with the Choir of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, James Vivian, organist and conductor. New from Hyperion, this continues their series of previous recordings with this Choir. The College of St George, founded in 1348, is unusual in that it is a Royal Peculiar, a parish under the direct jurisdiction of the monarch, rather than the diocese.

From Darkness into Light: Antoine Brumel’s Complete Lamentations of Jeremiah for Good Friday

As a musicologist, particularly when working in the field of historical documents, one is always hoping to discover that unknown score, letter, household account book - even a shopping list or scribbled memo - which will reveal much about the composition, performance or context of a musical work which might otherwise remain embedded within or behind the inscrutable walls of the past.

Time and Space: Songs by Holst and Vaughan Williams

New from Albion, Time and Space: Songs by Holst and Vaughan Williams, with Mary Bevan, Roderick Williams, William Vann and Jack Liebeck, highlighting the close personal relationship between the two composers.

Puccini's Le Willis: a fine new recording from Opera Rara

The 23-year-old Giacomo Puccini was still three months from the end of his studies at the Conservatoire in Milan when, in April 1883, he spotted an announcement of a competition for a one-act opera in Il teatro illustrato, a journal was published by Edoardo Sonzogno, the Italian publisher of Bizet's Carmen.

Liszt: O lieb! – Lieder and Mélodie

O Lieb! presents the lieder of Franz Liszt with a distinctive spark from Cyrille Dubois and Tristan Raës, from Aparté. Though young, Dubois is very highly regarded. His voice has a luminous natural elegance, ideal for the Mélodie and French operatic repertoire he does so well. With these settings by Franz Liszt, Dubois brings out the refinement and sophistication of Liszt’s approach to song.

The Academy of Ancient Music's superb recording of Handel's Brockes-Passion

The Academy of Ancient Music’s new release of Handel’s Brockes-Passion - recorded around the AAM's live performance at the Barbican Hall on the 300th anniversary of the first performance in 1719 - combines serious musicological and historical scholarship with vibrant musicianship and artistry.

Vaughan Williams: The Song of Love

From Albion, The Song of Love featuring songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams, with Kitty Whately, Roderick Williams and pianist William Vann. Albion is unique, treasured by Vaughan Williams devotees for rarely heard repertoire from the composer’s vast output, so don’t expect mass market commercial product. Albion recordings often highlight new perspectives.

A new recording of Henze’s Das Floß der Medusa

Henze’s Das Floß der Medusa is in some ways a work with a troubled and turbulent history. It is defined by the time in which it was written – 1968 – a period of student protest throughout central Europe. Its first performance was abandoned because the Hamburg chorus refused to perform under the Red Flag which had been placed on stage; and Henze himself decided he wouldn’t conduct it at all after police stormed the concert hall to remove protesters, among them the librettist Ernst Schnabel.

Berthold Goldschmidt: Beatrice Cenci, Bregenzer Festspiele

Berthold Goldschmidt’s Beatrice Cenci at last on DVD, from the Bregenzer Festspiele in 2018, with Johannes Debus conducting the Wiener Symphoniker, directed by Johannes Erath, and sung in German translation.

Sandrine Piau: Si j’ai aimé

Sandrine Piau and Le Concert de la Loge (Julien Chauvin), Si j’ai aimé, an eclectic collection of mélodies demonstrating the riches of French orchestral song. Berlioz, Duparc and Massenet are included, but also Saint-Saëns, Charles Bordes, Gabriel Pierné, Théodore Dubois, Louis Vierne and Benjamin Godard.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

LSO0669 [SACD]
01 Jan 2013

Mahler: Symphony No. 8

Among the recent recordings of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Valery Gergiev’s release on the LSO Live label is an excellent addition to the discography of this work.

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 8

Viktoria Yastrebov, soprano, Ailish Tynan, soprano, Liudmila Dudinova, soprano, Lilli Passikivi, mezzo-soprano, Zlata Bulycheva, mezzo soprano, Sergey Semishkur, tenor, Alexey Markov, baritone, Evgeny Kikitin bass, Choir of Elthan College, Choral Arts Society of Washington, London Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev, conductor.

LSO0669 [SACD]

$18.99  Click to buy

Gergiev’s conception of the first part, the Latin hymn Veni creator spiritus (tracks 1-6) conceived symphonically, is convincing and well-thought. The balances between textures, tempos, and dynamic levels represent the score faithfully in a dynamic reading of this piece. The choruses are notable for their refined sound, and clear diction, as evident from the start. It is a convincing performance that warrants attention among other recordings of the piece issued in the last few years.

As to this performance, the sense of musical narrative emerges readily as the extroverted opening “Veni creator spiritus” section is followed by the contrasting sections, which Gergiev delineates incisively. The architecture of this large-scale work becomes audibly apparent in this performance, with the various and shifting forces required for the “Accende lumen sensibus” section (track 4 on this recording) coming together with exceptional clarity. From that point, the movement drives forward, with the resulting sound evoking the composer’s synaesthesic comment to Willem Mengelberg about worlds and planets in motion. This exciting performance has the momentum that makes it stand out among recent recordings as a powerful and authoritative presentation of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony.

The second part, Mahler’s setting of the concluding section from Goethe’s Faust (tracks 7-18) is equally powerful. In contrast to the broad gestures required for the concluding “Gloria patri” of Veni creator spiritus, Gergiev is effective in presenting the more intimate structure of the opening of the piece, with the Anchorites’ music highly evocative. The orchestral details are nicely shaped, with the textures almost palpable as the music emerges from the almost imperceptible sounds of the first measures to the rich orchestral textures later in the section. This sets up the aria of the Pater Ecstaticus, and the vocal exchanges that follow. Here Gergiev’s deft approach to the orchestral accompaniment is apparent, as it supports the vocal line and also brings forward motifs with a sense of their function in the score. The result has the refinement of a studio recording while also conveying the dynamic qualities of a live performance. The prominent miking of the soloists allows them to be heard clearly in this recording, without overbalancing the result, especially in the richly textured choral sections.

In this regard, Gergiev’s soloists are uniform in their delivery, with well-chosen voices covering all the parts. Among the soloists, Sergey Semishkur is especially appealing in the role of Doctor Marianus, with his ringing sound and good diction bringing out the important part of the text. He handles the higher sections of the solo passage with ease and vibrant tone in this passage and in the penultimate “Blikket auf,” Doctor Marianus’s response to the “Komm” of the Mater Gloriosa. The other soloists are also memorable, as the strong principals complement the chorus in Mahler’s musical setting of this important example of Romantic literature. The dramatic qualities in this performance serve as a reminder of the ways in which Goethe’s Faust was an important part of Mahler’s reading and his intellectual world. This recording preserves Gergiev’s effort for future audiences to appreciate, especially the warmly colored “Chorus Mysticus” with which the work concludes. In the matter passage, Gergiev’s attention to details allows the various sonorities, to be heard distinctly. This is partly due to the well-considered tempos Gergiev used in realizing the performance indications and other markings Mahler used in this score. The full sounds of the conclusion resound vibrantly and triumphantly in this convincing reading of the score.

Based on performances given 8-10 July 2008 in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, this recording benefits from thoughtful sound engineering that offers both the elegant presentation of details and also spacious sound. In addition, the CD includes a concise booklet with the full text of the Eighth Symphony and English translation, along with a full track list. The booklet also includes photos and biographical sketches of the soloists, It is unfortunate, though, that some media players reflect the tracks correctly, but identify the recording with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Donald Runnicles, rather than the LSO with Gergiev. Despite these small problems, this recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony is a strong addition to the recorded legacy, and those interested in the work will find much to offer in it. It is a strong and impressive part of Gergiev’s recent Mahler cycle.

James L. 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):