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 Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Sony 509248
03 Oct 2015

“Nessun Dorma — The Puccini Album”

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.

Nessun Dorma — The Puccini Album (Deluxe Edition)

Jonas Kaufmann and Kristine Opolais. Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano, cond.

Sony 509248 [2CDs]

$13.99  Click to buy

The “legitimate” Puccini album, released in September by Sony Classical, offers a few rarities alongside the mainstays of the tenor repertoire, with classic arias from Tosca and La Bohème presented alongside lesser-known arias from the earliest operas, Le Villi and Edgar, all culminating in a Kaufmann-esque, characteristically heartfelt “Nessun Dorma” on the final track. Throughout the sixteen tracks, the orchestra and chorus of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, conducted passionately if at times unevenly by Antonio Pappano, underscores the raw triumph and tragedy of Puccini’s various operas.

In addition to the title track, the excerpts from Puccini’s third opera, Manon Lescaut, stand out by virtue of their placement as the opening of the recording, made more significant by the fact that they are the only pieces to appear out of chronological order. (Perhaps Kaufmann’s portrayal of Des Grieux at the Met Opera this season has something to do with this.) Kaufmann’s rich and plaintive “Donna non vidi mai” effectively sets the tone for the recording, spotlighting the technical and intuitive strength of which Kaufmann is capable and snatching the listener’s ears into the piercing warmth and lucidity of his vocal sound world. Three other selections from this opera drive home this impression, especially the electrifying “Oh, sarò la più bella!”, the duet in which Kaufmann’s Des Grieux falls in love with the temptress Manon Lescaut (here sung glowingly by Kristine Opolais). Indeed, Kaufmann states in the liner notes that the electricity he felt among the orchestra, conductor, and Opolais was so strong that they “had the feeling from the opening bar: only one take needed!”

The dip back into the past after Manon Lescaut, with selections from Puccini’s first two operas, is most welcome. In “Ei giunge!... Torna ai felici dì” from Le Villi, the orchestra’s whispers, which gradually turn into rumbles, eventually blend with Kaufmann’s searing voice, which provides depth and variety to the occasionally syrupy phrasing during the orchestra’s later passages. Throughout the similarly melancholy “Orgia, chimera dall'occhio vitreo” from Edgar, the blustering orchestra is balanced by Kaufmann’s more delicate vocals and a sweetly lilting oboe solo. The inclusion of these two operas manages to hold the listener’s attention after the gripping Manon Lescaut introduction, even managing to sustain interest through the more run-of-the-mill selections that follow. The expected excerpts from Tosca and Madama Butterfly are fittingly triumphant, while “O Soave Fanciulla” from La Bohème —another successful duet with Opolais, whose voice searingly overlaps and intertwines with Kaufmann’s—flickers with the incandescent hope and warmth of Mimì’s candle.

But the strongest tracks are from the final operas: La Fanciulla del West, La Rondine, Il Trittico, and Turandot. Despite imbalanced orchestra dynamics that flip-flop between overpowering and anemic, the two selections from La Fanciulla del West are still quite moving; Kaufmann’s masterful renditions of “Una parola sola!...or son sei mesi” and “Risparmiate lo scherno...ch’ella mi creda libero” refuse to get drowned out by their accompaniment. The passage from Gianni Schicchi, typically sung by a light tenor, feels fluid and emotionally resonant in Kaufmann’s skillful hands, while the two final tracks, both from Turandot, kick the tragic overtones into high gear and allow for a suitably robust close to the album. Despite the vague splotches of unevenness within the orchestra and conducting, the recording proves an exemplary portrait not only of Kaufmann as a vocalist, but of the trajectory of Puccini’s artistic legacy.

Rebecca S. Lentjes

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):