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

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As a musicologist, particularly when working in the field of historical documents, one is always hoping to discover that unknown score, letter, household account book - even a shopping list or scribbled memo - which will reveal much about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.

The VOCES8 Foundation is launched at St Anne & St Agnes

Where might you hear medieval monophony by the late 12th-century French composer Pérotin, Renaissance polyphony by William Byrd, a vocal arrangement of the stirring theme from Sibelius’s tone poem Finlandia, alongside a newly commissioned work, ‘Vertue’ (2019) by Jonathan Dove, followed by an arrangement of the Irish folksong ‘Danny Boy’ and a snappy rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘One Note Samba’ arr. for eight voices by Naomi Crellin, all within 90 minutes?

Gerald Finzi Choral Works

From Hyperion, Gerald Finzi choral works with the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, conducted by Stephen Layton. An impressive Magnificat (1952) sets the tone.

Herbert Howells: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge has played a role in the evolution of British music. This recording honours this heritage and Stephen Cleobury’s contribution in particular by focusing on Herbert Howells, who transformed the British liturgical repertoire in the 20th century.

Mieczysław Weinberg: Symphony no. 21 (“Kaddish”)

Mieczysław Weinberg witnessed the Holocaust firsthand. He survived, though millions didn’t, including his family. His Symphony no. 21 “Kaddish” (Op. 152) is a deeply personal statement. Yet its musical qualities are such that they make it a milestone in modern repertoire.

Kenshiro Sakairi and the Tokyo Juventus Philharmonic in Mahler’s Eighth

Although some works by a number of composers have had to wait uncommonly lengthy periods of time to receive Japanese premieres - one thinks of both Mozart’s Jupiter and Beethoven’s Fifth (1918), Handel’s Messiah (1929), Wagner’s Parsifal (1967), Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette (1966) and even Bruckner’s Eighth (1959, given its premiere by Herbert von Karajan) - Mahler might be considered to have fared somewhat better.

Lise Davidsen sings Wagner and Strauss

Superlatives to describe Lise Davidsen’s voice have been piling up since she won Placido Domingo’s 2015 Operalia competition, blowing everyone away. She has been called “a voice in a million” and “the new Kirsten Flagstad.”

Nicky Spence and Julius Drake record The Diary of One Who Disappeared

From Hyperion comes a particularly fine account of Leoš Janáček’s song cycle The Diary of One Who Disappeared. Handsome-voiced Nicky Spence is the young peasant who loses his head over an alluring gypsy and is never seen again.

Jean Sibelius: Kullervo

Why did Jean Sibelius suppress Kullervo (Op. 7, 1892)? There are many theories why he didn’t allow it to be heard after its initial performances, though he referred to it fondly in private. This new recording, from Hyperion with Thomas Dausgaard conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, soloists Helena Juntunen and Benjamin Appl and the Lund Male Chorus, is a good new addition to the ever-growing awareness of Kullervo, on recording and in live performance.

Mahler: Titan, Eine Tondichtung in Symphonieform – François-Xavier Roth, Les Siècles

Not the familiar version of Mahler's Symphony no 1, but the “real” Mahler Titan at last, as it might have sounded in Mahler's time! François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles present the symphony in its second version, based on the Hamburg/Weimar performances of 1893-94. This score is edited by Reinhold Kubik and Stephen E.Hefling for Universal Edition AG. Wien.

Verdi: Messa da Requiem - Staatskapelle Dresden, Christian Thielemann (Profil)

It has often been the case that the destruction wrought by wars, especially the Second World War, has been treated unevenly by composers. Theodor Adorno’s often quoted remark, from his essay Prisms, that “to write poetry after Auschwitz would be barbaric” - if widely misinterpreted - is limited by its scope and in a somewhat profound way composers have looked on the events of World War II in the same way.

Matthias Goerne: Schumann – Liederkreis, op 24 & Kernerlieder

New from Harmonia Mundi, Matthias Goerne and Lief Ove Andsnes: Robert Schumann – Liederkreis, op 24 and Kernerlieder. Goerne and Andsnes have a partnership based on many years of working together, which makes this new release, originally recorded in late 2018, well worth hearing.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

RCO 17005
28 Jul 2017

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.

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch. Markus Stenz, Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam.

A review by Anne Ozorio

RCO 17005 [CD]

€ 12.99  Click to buy

It helps that the paintings are so much part of popular culture that everyone recognizes his images of extreme excess. Bosch’s people wear medieval dress, but their actions depict the subconscious, the ‘Id’ and existential guilt in operation, centuries before the concepts of psychology found expression in formal language.

Like Carnina Burana, Glanert’s Requiem is highly dramatic music theatre, adapting the cataclysmic dreamscapes of Bosch’s paintings into music of extremes as lurid as Bosch’s images. Glanert’s Requiem unfolds in 18 episodes, rather like panels in a medieval triptych. This gives the piece structure, making it easy to follow. The teeming, sprawling panoramas Bosch depicts could plausibly be depicted in sound, but that would probably be asking too much of most audiences. Like Bosch, though, Glanert’s piece replicates extremes. Literally heaven and hell, for the premise is the judgement Bosch faces after death. Thus the standard elements of a Requiem Mass are interleaved with the Seven Deadly Sins, the acrid flames of hellfire whipping against the smoke of incense.

A harsh Voice (David Wilson-Johnson, narrating) calls from above “Hieronymus Bosch!” Immediately we spring to attention. Bells ring,. Throbbing, rushing figures in the choral line, suggesting the doomed hordes we see in Bosch’s paintings. The orchestral lines veer wildly, lit by screaming brass, the chorus screaming to crescendo. Suddenly the forces fragment and, from the silence, a slow, low penitential intonation. An abstract ‘Requiem Aeternam’, the choral line flowing ambiguously, in almost microtonal haze. like smoke. In ‘Gluttony’ the bass (the aptly named Christof Fischesser) sings of food, his lines circular and rotund. The text may be in Latin, but the meaning is clear. The choir responds with the long, thin lines of an ‘Absolve Domine’, reinforced by ‘Wrath’ with tenor (Gerhard Siegel) and a ‘Dies Irae’ which ends with a vivid orchestral flourish. Another demon, ‘Envy’, fights back. Soprano Aga Mikolaj’s fluid, curving lines mimic the lines in the “heavenly” chorus— imitation is a sign of envy!

But the serene ‘Juste judex’ prevails. But where are we? The organ solo (Leo van Doeselaar) lets rip with a frenzy that suggests a cathedral organ hijacked by ‘Satan’. Despite the extremes of volume and tempi, the lines between heaven and hell are, tellingly, blurred. In ‘Sloth’, the soprano sings langorously, joined in sensuous duet by the mezzo (Ursula Hesse von den Steinen). ‘Pride’, ‘Lust’ and ‘Avarice’ appear, but the balance shifts towards the big guns : Full choir, offstage choir, and orchestra in increasingly full throttle : listen for the jazzy culmination of the ‘Domine Jesu Christe’. and the funky trumpet that heralds the ‘Agnus Dei’.

With the ‘Libera Me’ and ‘Peccatum’, we are in Carmina Burana territory, bursting forth in a blaze, the earthly chorus in raucuous flow, augmented by brass and percussion and the offstage chorus singing of ‘lux perpetua’. Big forces. But is might right? Glanert’s Requiem ends ‘In Paradisium’, here the ‘Voice from Above’ recites lines from the Book of Revelation. Apocalyptic visions, marking the end of the world and of time. Now, when the Voice screams “Hieronymus!”, he doesn’t add a demonic epithet. With an unearthly low hum, the choir sings of the chorus angelorum that brings eternal rest.

Glanert’s Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch was commissioned to celebrate Bosch’s 500th anniversary, and premiered in Sint Janskathedraal, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, in April 2016. So it’s a public piece rather than a work of inward inspiration. It must be great fun to perform, without being particularly demanding, technically or interpretively. It could, in theory, be performed elsewhere, much as Carmina Burana is, these days. It is admirably performed on this world premiere recording made in November 2016 with the top-notch Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, conducted by Markus Stenz.

Glanert was one of Hans Werner Henze’s few disciples. Henze’s political beliefs influenced his music, though he never sacrificed high artistic and intellectual standards. Glanert is a man of the theatre, too, with a more earthy sense of humour than Henze had, though that quirkiness isn’t too obvious. When the ENO did Glanert’s opera Caligula, London audiences just couldn’t get it. (Please read HERE what I wrote about Caligula, which I first heard in Frankfurt). In this Bosch Requiem, Glanert again mixes grotesque with irony. Just as the vastness of Carmina Burana appealed to Nazi taste, the vastness of this Requiem veers on parody. Will it be loved for its vulgarity or its irony? Just as the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch reveal the viewer, Glanert’s Requiem reveals the listener.

Anne Ozorio

   

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):