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

Henry Purcell, Royal Welcome Songs for King Charles II Vol. III: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers

The Sixteen continues its exploration of Henry Purcell’s Welcome Songs for Charles II. As with Robert King’s pioneering Purcell series begun over thirty years ago for Hyperion, Harry Christophers is recording two Welcome Songs per disc.

Anima Rara: Ermonela Jaho

In February this year, Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho made a highly lauded debut recital at Wigmore Hall - a concert which both celebrated Opera Rara’s 50th anniversary and honoured the career of the Italian soprano Rosina Storchio (1872-1945), the star of verismo who created the title roles in Leoncavallo’s La bohème and Zazà, Mascagni’s Lodoletta and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

Requiem pour les temps futurs: An AI requiem for a post-modern society

Collapsology. Or, perhaps we should use the French word ‘Collapsologie’ because this is a transdisciplinary idea pretty much advocated by a series of French theorists - and apparently, mostly French theorists. It in essence focuses on the imminent collapse of modern society and all its layers - a series of escalating crises on a global scale: environmental, economic, geopolitical, governmental; the list is extensive.

Ádám Fischer’s 1991 MahlerFest Kassel ‘Resurrection’ issued for the first time

Amongst an avalanche of new Mahler recordings appearing at the moment (Das Lied von der Erde seems to be the most favoured, with three) this 1991 Mahler Second from the 2nd Kassel MahlerFest is one of the more interesting releases.

Max Lorenz: Tristan und Isolde, Hamburg 1949

If there is one myth, it seems believed by some people today, that probably needs shattering it is that post-war recordings or performances of Wagner operas were always of exceptional quality. This 1949 Hamburg Tristan und Isolde is one of those recordings - though quite who is to blame for its many problems takes quite some unearthing.

Women's Voices: a sung celebration of six eloquent and confident voices

The voices of six women composers are celebrated by baritone Jeremy Huw Williams and soprano Yunah Lee on this characteristically ambitious and valuable release by Lontano Records Ltd (Lorelt).

Rosa mystica: Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir

As Paul Spicer, conductor of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir, observes, the worship of the Blessed Virgin Mary is as ‘old as Christianity itself’, and programmes devoted to settings of texts which venerate the Virgin Mary are commonplace.

The Prison: Ethel Smyth

Ethel Smyth’s last large-scale work, written in 1930 by the then 72-year-old composer who was increasingly afflicted and depressed by her worsening deafness, was The Prison – a ‘symphony’ for soprano and bass-baritone soloists, chorus and orchestra.

Songs by Sir Hamilton Harty: Kathryn Rudge and Christopher Glynn

‘Hamilton Harty is Irish to the core, but he is not a musical nationalist.’

After Silence: VOCES8

‘After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’ Aldous Huxley’s words have inspired VOCES8’s new disc, After Silence, a ‘double album in four chapters’ which marks the ensemble’s 15th anniversary.

Beethoven's Songs and Folksongs: Bostridge and Pappano

A song-cycle is a narrative, a journey, not necessarily literal or linear, but one which carries performer and listener through time and across an emotional terrain. Through complement and contrast, poetry and music crystallise diverse sentiments and somehow cohere variability into an aesthetic unity.

Flax and Fire: a terrific debut recital-disc from tenor Stuart Jackson

One of the nicest things about being lucky enough to enjoy opera, music and theatre, week in week out, in London’s fringe theatres, music conservatoires, and international concert halls and opera houses, is the opportunity to encounter striking performances by young talented musicians and then watch with pleasure as they fulfil those sparks of promise.

Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players: a world premiere recording

“It’s forbidden, and where’s the art in that?”

John F. Larchet's Complete Songs and Airs: in conversation with Niall Kinsella

Dublin-born John F. Larchet (1884-1967) might well be described as the father of post-Independence Irish music, given the immense influenced that he had upon Irish musical life during the first half of the 20th century - as a composer, musician, administrator and teacher.

Haddon Hall: 'Sullivan sans Gilbert' does not disappoint thanks to the BBC Concert Orchestra and John Andrews

The English Civil War is raging. The daughter of a Puritan aristocrat has fallen in love with the son of a Royalist supporter of the House of Stuart. Will love triumph over political expediency and religious dogma?

Beethoven’s Choral Symphony and Choral Fantasy from Harmonia Mundi

Beethoven Symphony no 9 (the Choral Symphony) in D minor, Op. 125, and the Choral Fantasy in C minor, Op. 80 with soloist Kristian Bezuidenhout, Pablo Heras-Casado conducting the Freiburger Barockorchester, new from Harmonia Mundi.

Taking Risks with Barbara Hannigan

A Louise Brooks look-a-like, in bobbed black wig and floor-sweeping leather trench-coat, cheeks purple-rouged and eyes shadowed in black, Barbara Hannigan issues taut gestures which elicit fire-cracker punch from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Alfredo Piatti: The Operatic Fantasies (Vol.2) - in conversation with Adrian Bradbury

‘Signor Piatti in a fantasia on themes from Beatrice di Tenda had also his triumph. Difficulties, declared to be insuperable, were vanquished by him with consummate skill and precision. He certainly is amazing, his tone magnificent, and his style excellent. His resources appear to be inexhaustible; and altogether for variety, it is the greatest specimen of violoncello playing that has been heard in this country.’

Those Blue Remembered Hills: Roderick Williams sings Gurney and Howells

Baritone Roderick Williams seems to have been a pretty constant ‘companion’, on my laptop screen and through my stereo speakers, during the past few ‘lock-down’ months.

Bruno Ganz and Kirill Gerstein almost rescue Strauss’s Enoch Arden

Melodramas can be a difficult genre for composers. Before Richard Strauss’s Enoch Arden the concept of the melodrama was its compact size – Weber’s Wolf’s Glen scene in Der Freischütz, Georg Benda’s Ariadne auf Naxos and Medea or even Leonore’s grave scene in Beethoven’s Fidelio.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Anton Bruckner: Symphony no. 8 (rev. version, Nowak ed.)
27 Jun 2007

BRUCKNER: Symphony no. 8 (rev. version, Nowak ed.)

Established in 1985 by the United Nations, the World Philharmonic Orchestra gave its inaugural concert on 12 December 1985 under the auspices of UNICEF and the Konserthus, Sweden.

Anton Bruckner: Symphony no. 8 (rev. version, Nowak ed.)

World Philharmonic Orchestra, Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor.

Euroarts DVD 2051368

$22.99  Click to buy

Released only recently, this DVD captures that performance of World Philharmonic, an orchestra comprised of principal and solo players from all five continents into a single ensemble and led by the late Carlo Maria Giulini. The work chosen for the program suited this assembly of superb professionals, Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony in its revised version and, specifically, following the Nowak edition, and this concert shows Giulini in his prime.

Impossible as it is with this kind of ensemble to ascribe it a specialty, the intricacies of ensemble and interpretation are sufficient to challenge the professional involved with this global group. Yet the focus of the recording truly is Giulini, who brings forward a masterful interpretation of the last symphony that Bruckner saw to completion. The discography of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony includes some fine performances, notably a highly esteemed one with the Vienna Philharmonic led by Karajan. While that latter recording remains an impressive performance, it also represents Karajan’s approach to this works, which is highly dramatic and, as a result, deeply moving. In comparison, Giulini is, perhaps, more passionate than dramatic. In so doing, he draws out the various lines and motifs to shape the musical narrative. He pauses less than some conductors approach Bruckner, and so relies more on connecting the various musical lines than on defining smaller sections of phrase groups. The Scherzo of the Eighth almost requires this kind of approach in order to make sense of the various elements Bruckner introduced into it. While it is overtly a Scherzo, the movement includes gestures that the composer had previously used in some of his slow movements to contribute a level of intensity to some of the transitions. In approaching such aspects of Bruckner’s music, Giulini offers an interpretation that respects the score and simultaneously reflects his personal knowledge of the work.

For an event like the opening concert of the World Philharmonic Orchestra, the choice of Bruckner’s music may not be politically correct by the mores of that exist a generation later, when the idea of world music and native traditions is prominent. As laudable as such later awareness may be, in some situations it emphasizes the differences between cultures. It is also difficult to regard classical music as a lingua franca between global cultures. Yet perhaps the introspective nature of Bruckner’s music is a wise enough choice, especially in this late work by the composer, which is removed from his associations with Wagner or even the more tangible connections with Ländler that may be found in his earlier symphonic canvasses. In such a situation any work is, at best, a compromise. Yet this music has some abstract qualities that allow an international audience to appreciate its introspective character. If the extended applause at the end of this recording can be called into account, it demonstrates the success of the work in this context, masterfully interpreted by Giulini, one of the greatest conductors of the twentieth century. The sublime music at the conclusion of the slow movement transcends national and stylistic bounds in its profoundly human pathos that emerges from the pages of this late nineteenth-century score.

This DVD is a fine tribute to the World Philharmonic, which has continued to serve the international community in the two decades since its premiere concert. More information about the World Philharmonic Orchestra exists at its website (accessed 27 June 2007). It would have been useful to have more information about the WPO with this recording, but the introductory essay by Werner Pfister offers a bit more background on its inception and Giulini’s role with this concert. All in all, this recording is of interest as a unique sort of world premiere and fine contribution to Giulini’s discography. The sound is excellent, and the film itself is sensitive to the music, with lingering shots and slower pans fitting this work well. The close-ups of Giulini capture his expressive technique, while the views of the orchestra demonstrate their involvement with the music in this compelling performance of one of Bruckner’s masterpieces.

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):