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

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.

Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,

A Verlaine Songbook

Back in the LP days, if a singer wanted to show some sophistication, s/he sometimes put out an album of songs by famous composers set to the poems of one poet: for example, Phyllis Curtin’s much-admired 1964 disc of Debussy and Fauré songs to poems by Verlaine, with pianist Ryan Edwards (available now as a CD from VAI).

Giovanni Simone Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Matthias Goerne: Bach Cantatas for Bass

In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death.  Goerne adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker bass register.

Gramophone Award Winner — Matthias Goerne Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge

Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category - Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach - Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.

Véronique Gens: Visions from Grand Opéra

Ravishing : Visions, Véronique Gens in a glorious new recording of French operatic gems, with Hervé Niquet conducting the Münchener Rundfunkorchester. This disc is a companion piece to Néère, where Gens sang familiar Duparc, Hahn, and Chausson mélodies.

John Joubert's Jane Eyre

Librettists have long mined the literature shelves for narratives that are ripe for musico-dramatic embodiment. On the whole, it’s the short stories and poems - The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin or Death in Venice, for example - that best lend themselves to operatic adaptation.

Through Life and Love: Louise Alder sings Strauss

Soprano Louise Alder has had an eventful few months. Declared ‘Young Singer of the Year’ at the 2017 International Opera Awards in May, the following month she won the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

A Master Baritone in Recital: Sesto Bruscantini, 1981

This is the only disc ever devoted to the art of Sesto Bruscantini (1919–2003). Record collectors value his performance of major baritone roles, especially comic but also serious ones, on many complete opera recordings, such as Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Victoria de los Angeles). He continued to perform at major houses until at least 1985 and even recorded Mozart's Don Alfonso in 1991, when he was 72.

Emalie Savoy: A Portrait

Since 1952, the ARD—the organization of German radio stations—has run an annual competition for young musicians. Winners have included Jessye Norman, Maurice André, Heinz Holliger, and Mitsuko Uchida. Starting in 2015, the CD firm GENUIN has offered, as a separate award, the chance for one of the prize winners to make a CD that can serve as a kind of calling card to the larger musical and music-loving world. In 2016, the second such CD award was given to the Aris Quartett (second-prize winner in the “string quartet” category).

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Detlev Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch should be a huge hit. Just as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana appeals to audiences who don't listen to early music (or even to much classical music), Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch has all the elements for instant popular success.

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.

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):