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Richard Strauss: The Complete Songs 6
Einerlei, Op. 69 No. 3
Waldesfahrt, Op. 69 No. 4
Schlechtes Wetter, Op. 69 No. 5
Rote Rosen, AV76
Die erwachte Rose, TrV 90, AV 66
Der Stern, Op. 69 No. 1
Begegnung (Meeting), AV 72
Wir beide wollen springen, AV 90
Das Bächlein, Op. 88 No. 1
Blick vom oberen Belvedere, Op. 88 No. 2
Der Krämerspiegel (12 songs), Op. 66 (texts: Alfred Kerr)
Wer hat’s getan Op. 10 No. 6 bis
Malven, AV 304
Hyperion’s Strauss Lieder series continues to demonstrate that the composer’s achievements in this genre are among the most fascinating and accomplished of his works. This latest volume includes, for instance, the delicious Schlechtes Wetter from Op 69, and the lovely—and unknown—Waldesfahrt from the same group. The delicately beautiful Malven (never published in Strauss’s lifetime, and first performed by Kiri Te Kanawa in 1985), with which the recital ends, is known as Strauss’s ‘Fifth Last Song’.
The central work recorded here, Krämerspiegel, owes its genesis to Strauss’s long-lasting and bitter dispute with the German music publishing industry. A Berlin literary critic, Alfred Kerr, wrote him a witty set of satirical verses lampooning music publishers, mentioning many of Strauss’s principal enemies by name. Strauss set all twelve poems to music, and this practical joke finally saw the light of day in 1921. It is easy to understand why the cycle is now rarely performed, given that the texts consist entirely of in-jokes, and that the lion’s share of the music is given to the pianist. But Strauss’s music is well worth savouring, not least for its humorous references to Strauss’s own works, such as Der Rosenkavalier and Ein Heldenleben, and especially for the beautiful prelude to the eighth song and its reprise as the final extended postlude—used by the composer nearly a quarter of a century later, in his opera Capriccio.
Roger Vignoles is the curator and pianist of this series, and also writes the informative booklet notes. Making her Hyperion debut is soprano Elizabeth Watts, of whom The Guardian commented at a recent Strauss Lieder recital: ‘Watts, winner of the Lieder prize at Cardiff Singer of the World in 2007, is already a major artist, but this struck me as making a transformation into a great one, as well as allowing us to hear her in music she seems to have been born to sing. Watts has the right tonal glamour for Strauss along with that tricky combination of vocal ease and immaculate control that his work requires.’
“Vignoles was and is very impressive indeed, here readily catching the extraordinary variety of mood in each song...My pleasure in this latest volume is without any reservations. Elizabeth Watts sings gloriously, rising fluently to the high tessitura of Strauss's melodic lines...Her beautiful voice, sensitive phrasing and response to word-meanings are consistently rewarding and her partnership with Roger Vignoles could hardly be more beautifully balanced.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2013
“As well as showing her ability to weave around a wide-ranging phrase, apparent in the first song on the disc, 'Einerlei', and incorporating a useful chest voice, she shows a wicked penchant for donning joke fangs in the song cycle.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2013 ****
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JS Bach: Cantatas & Arias
Winner of the 2006 Kathleen Ferrier Award and the 2007 Cardiff Song Prize, soprano Elizabeth Watts, makes her harmonia mundi début in a luminous programme of Bach cantatas and arias, deftly supported by The English Concert, led by Harry Bicket.
With a voice described by International Record Review as “one of the most beautiful Britain has produced in a generation”, Elizabeth Watts is now securely established as “one of the brightest new talents” (The Independent). After training as a chorister at Norwich Cathedral, Elizabeth went on to study archaeology at Sheffield University before attending the Royal College of Music in London. Her many prizes include the 2006 Kathleen Ferrier Prize (UK), the 2007 Outstanding Young Artist Award at the Cannes MIDEM Classique Awards and the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize at the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. A former ‘BBC New Generation Artist’, she was invited to become an Artist in Residence at London’s Southbank Centre in 2010. Now equally in demand as a recitalist, opera singer, and concert artist, she has already appeared at many of the world’s leading musical centres and festivals, including the Royal Opera House, London, Wigmore Hall, Welsh National Opera, the BBC Proms, Santa Fe Opera, Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society, and has upcoming engagements throughout Europe from Amsterdam to Zurich.
Internationally renowned conductor Harry Bicket is especially noted for his interpretation of Baroque and Classical repertoire. In 2007 he became Artistic Director of The English Concert, which he has led on tours in the UK, USA, Europe and the Middle East.
He has won high praise world wide for his work in opera, including at The Royal Opera Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival, Opera North, Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, and Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona. He made his debut at The Metropolitan Opera in 2004 in a new production of Rodelinda with Renée Fleming and David Daniels, and returned to conduct Giulio Cesare in 2006 and La clemenza di Tito in 2008.
Future projects with The English Concert include a recording featuring Lucy Crowe for harmonia mundi.
“this is a performance which mixes sumptuousness and refinement with impeccable poise and style...Bicket's approach is so gloriously relaxed and expansive that the music seems to float timelessly in the air like so much arresting perfume...I am now convinced that Watts is as authoritative and compelling a Bach soprano as you will find anywhere today.” International Record Review, March 2011
“Elizabeth Watts, with her voice combining warmth and purity, is well suited to Bach's personal outpouring of both penitence and jubilation...[she] is on top form and the playing under Harry Bicket is equally fine.” Classic FM Magazine, April 2011 ****
“The instrumental contributions from the English Concert under Harry Bicket are nicely done” The Guardian, 10th March 2011 ***
“Watts's smouldering vocal apporach to the text is deeply involving rather than merely lovely...Bicket's pacing allows the orchestral accompaniment to be both lively and detailed, and even if Watts's gutsy abandon might not cater for all tastes, her gleeful dialogue with Mark Bennett's meaty trumpet-playing in the finale [of Jauchzet Gott] has plenty of ballsy jubilation.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2011
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Schubert - Lieder
An den Mond, D193
Suleika I, D720
Im Abendrot, D799
Sei mir gegrüsst! D741 (Rückert)
Die Forelle, D550
Heimliches Lieben D922 (Klenke)
Der Sänger am Felsen, D482
Thekla, D595 (Schiller)
An die Sonne D270
Aus 'Diego Manzanares', Ilmerine D458
Nacht und Träume, D827
Die Blumensprache D519 (Platner)
Nähe des Geliebten, D162
An die Nachtigall, D497
Liane, D298 (Mayrhofer)
Das Madchens Klage, D191 (Schiller)
Nachtviolen D752 (Mayrhofer)
Marie D658 (Novalis)
Lambertine, D301 (Stoll)
Die Männer sind méchant, D866 No. 3
SONY BMG Masterworks is delighted to present the debut solo album by soprano Elizabeth Watts. Born in 1979, Elizabeth has already garnered an impressive list of accolades, including reaching the final and winning the prestigious Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize at the 2007 Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, winning the Kathleen Ferrier Prize in 2006, the MIDEM Classique Award for Outstanding Young Artist Award in 2007, and has also been selected for BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists Scheme.
“…Watt's youthful, radiant delivery, with no flaws in technique that I can hear, fits many of the Lieder like a glove.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2009 ****
“A voice in its first, radiant freshness is always to be cherished in Schubert. Watts is a thoughtful interpreter, too, alive to mood and atmosphere… Crucially, she also brings a measure of innocence and simplicity - not quite the same thing as artlessness - to many of these songs, allied to a technical mastery that allows her to spin a rapt, unblemished line in "Nacht und Träume".” Gramophone Magazine, February 2009
“Hailed as a singer to watch after winning the 2006 Kathleen Ferrier Award and the 2007 Cardiff Song Prize, Elizabeth Watts makes her CD debut with this refreshingly unhackneyed Schubert programme. Perennial soprano favourites – DieForelle, Nacht und Träume, Frühlingsglaube, Suleika – are not shunned. But Watts has alighted on some rarely aired gems. How often in recital do we hear the agitated scena-in-miniature AusDiego Manzanares; or the playfully charming paean to spring Die Blumensprache; or the Novalis setting Marie, where sacred and profane blur in a song of exquisite, rarefied grace? A voice in its first, radiant freshness is always to be cherished in Schubert. Watts is a thoughtful interpreter, too, alive to mood and atmosphere, colouring her tone in response to a darkening of the harmony in, say, Sei mir gegrüsst. Crucially, she also brings a measure of innocence and simplicity – not quite the same thing as artlessness – to many of these songs, allied to a technical mastery that allows her to spin a rapt, unblemished line in Nacht und Träume. Encouraged by Vignoles's buoyant accompaniment, she makes an engaging story-teller in Die Forelle, with an unexaggerated touch of indignation at the angler's treachery; and she sings the mildly salacious refrain song Die Männer sind méchant with just the right wide-eyed mock-pathos.
Quibbles? Well, in one or two songs, including the opening An den Mond, Watts struck me as overly languid. She treats Nähe des Geliebten as an elegiac litany, where, say, Janet Baker, choosing a more mobile tempo and finding greater variety from verse to verse, sings it as a passionate avowal of love. Watts also emphasises melancholy over excited anticipation in Frühlingsglaube and Suleika. Here and elsewhere, Watts under-exploits the expressive potential of German consonants. That said, highlights are lovely performances of Nachtviolen – the high tessitura effortlessly negotiated – or the Mozartian barcarolle Liane: just two songs among many where the vernal purity of Watts's tone and the grace of her phrasing are priceless assets.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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Following the success of the Mozart Mass in C minor last year, CORO is delighted to announce the release of its second recording with Harry Christophers and the Handel and Haydn Society. Celebrated soloists Elizabeth Watts, Phyllis Pancella, Andrew Kennedy and Eric Owens joined Harry and the Society to record Mozart’s Requiem live at Boston’s Symphony Hall earlier this year.
Mozart’s final moments are reflected through this masterpiece of drama, intensity and depth. The mysterious circumstances surrounding the Requiem’s commission (delivered by a ‘messenger in black’ who refused to reveal the identity of the person who had sent him), and the fact it was left incomplete by a dying Mozart, have ensured a continued fascination with the work.
Completed by Mozart’s colleague Süssmayr in 1792, the Requiem is one of Mozart’s most popular and enduring works and one of the most enigmatic pieces of music ever composed.
The CD will also feature Mozart’s Ave verum corpus and the first recording on period instruments of his concert aria Per questa bella mano for bass voice and solo double bass obligato—a piece famous for its fiendishly difficult double bass part, performed superbly on this recording by Robert Nairn.
“[Owens's] instrument sounds magisterial as it rolls along, matching well with the three remaining soloists. Elizabeth Watts is a luminous soprano. Phyllis Pancella can rely on the almost contralto-like qualities of her mezzo. Andrew Kennedy's strong tenor makes a direct human appeal. The choir, too, is well blended and nicely balanced, negotiating the fast passages with impressive neatness. Orchestral playing is both vivid and disciplined” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011 ****
“a tangible excitement and momentum from one movement to the next makes this interpretation far more exciting than many studio recordings...And what a Dies irae this is. Breathless, barely contained, with brisk and extreme changes of dynamics always grabbing you by the hand and dragging you onwards; it is totally compelling...It's the most consistently engaging and propulsive recording of the Requiem I've heard.” Classic FM Magazine, November 2011 *****
“The recording grants welcome clarity to the orchestration, with colle parti trombones particularly audible. Tempi are generally brisk...the performance of [Per questa bella mano] is all one could wish for.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2012
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The Huddersfield Choral society has one of the longest and most fruitful relationships with Handel’s famous Messiah than perhaps any other chorus in the world: they first performed it in concert during their inception year of 1836, and have continued to do so annually since 1860 with concerts the world over as well as in their hometown of Huddersfield.
Recorded live in concert in December 2010, this new recording combines the famous ensemble with the Northern Sinfonia and four world-class professionals, under the direction of Jane Glover CBE. The disc begins with John Wainwright’s ‘Christians Awake’, a traditional addition to the Messiah programme at their concerts in Huddersfield.
Also available on Signum is the Huddersfield Choral Society’s performance of Mozart’s 1787 arrangement of the work, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Dame Felicity Lott, Philip Langridge and others under the direction of Sir Charles Mackerras (SIGCD074).
“their collective experience, wholehearted spirit and total commitment return handsome compensation for occasional rough ensemble edges, especially so in the 'Hallelujah Chorus' and final 'Amen'. Glover's sense of drama, attention to detail and tempo relationships, and feeling for ritual nourish a persuasive interpretation, one backed by the Northern Sinfonia's stylish playing.” Classic FM Magazine, July 2011 ****
“Glover allow[s] plenty of light and air into the textures...The Huddersfield Choral Society surely knows this music inside out. You can sense the sheer discipline that has gone into its preparation...Pick of the bunch...is the soprano Elizabeth Watts, and not just in her solos: the duet at 'He shall feed his flock' is beautifully tender and reflective.” International Record Review, July 2011
“The buoyant chorus, under Glover’s incisive direction, goes from strength to strength. Four vigorous soloists play their part, especially the tenor Mark Le Brocq and the soprano Elizabeth Watts, particularly fine in If God Be for Us.” Sunday Times, 10th April 2011 ****
“Those of us in Huddersfield Town Hall last December knew we had heard a Messiah of memorable quality. The choral singing was fleet and flexible, a strong line-up of soloists – Elizabeth Watts, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Mark le Brocq and James Oldfield – had been assembled and Jane Glover directed the Northern Sinfonia with that rhythmic vitality which is her hallmark. To everyone’s good fortune the performance was recorded and the result is fresh, vivid and moving.” Yorkshire Evening Post, 15th April 2011
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Following the highly acclaimed production at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, The Classical Opera Company presents Artaxerxes, recorded to celebrate the 300th anniversary of composer Thomas Arne.
This is the first complete recording of one of the most important and successful of all English operas, with the lost Finale realised most effectively by Duncan Druce.
Composer Thomas Arne, most famous for composing ‘Rule Britannia’, also won fans in Mozart and Haydn with his opera Artaxerxes that remained in the London repertoire almost continuously from its premiere in 1762 until the 1830s.
This stunning, but rarely recorded, opera has many well-known arias including ‘The soldier tir'd’, originally made famous by Joan Sutherland and sung here by Elizabeth Watts (“A lyric soprano as ravishing as one could possibly want” IRR).
The Classical Opera Company was founded in 1997 by conductor Ian Page. It specialises in the music of Mozart and his contemporaries, performing with its own period-instrument orchestra, and is emerging as one of Britain's most exciting and highly regarded young arts organisations.
The company appears regularly in London at such venues as Sadler's Wells, the Barbican and Wigmore Hall and has also performed at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, The Anvil, Basingstoke, St George's, Bristol, the Barbican's Mostly Mozart Festival, the Lufthansa Baroque Festival, the Bath International Music Festival, the Brighton Festival and the Buxton Festival.
“The music...is far from parochial, with as rich an array of influences as any Handel. Page and co achieved a signal success when they revived the piece, with newly composed recitatives (by Page) and finale (by Duncan Druce), at Covent Garden in 2009. This recording, more intimate than epic, happily preserves that achievement. Christopher Ainslie is outstanding in the title role.” Sunday Times, 9th January 2011 ***
“Arne's music veers from sub-Handel baroque to early galant, in the charming, innocent style of Johann Christian Bach...Elizabeth Watts and Rebecca Bottone shine under Ian Page's crisp direction.” The Observer, 23rd January 2011
“Page directs his players with style and sureness...How well the orchestra (and not only the woodwind) plays...The anger and venom summoned in Watts's vocal onslaught makes Mozart's Elettra seem no more than mildly put out. Watts truly brings Mandane's feelings to life...Some of the best singing comes from Christopher Ainslie in the title-role.” International Record Review, March 2011
“The very fine cast enters with spirit into the text's convoluted scenario of love and betrayal in ancient Persia and delivering [sic] the notes with assurance. Ian Page conducts the period-instrument forces with conviction and the sound is excellent.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2011 *****
“The recitatives...are delivered with conviction, flowing seamlessly into the arias. Christopher Ainslie as Artaxerxes woos with honeyed tone, while Caitlin Hulcup as his friend Arbaces impresses with her coloratura...There's much delectable writing for woodwind and horns, all beautifully played. This lively account of a charming work will give much pleasure.” Classic FM Magazine, April 2011 ****
“the ruthless virtuosity of [Watts's] 'Monster away!' carries all before it...admirable work by the other voices.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2011
BBC Music Magazine
Opera Choice - March 2011
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Recorded live at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, London on 4 April 2009.
Newly appointed as the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor after just one appearance with the ensemble, Yannick Nézet-Séguin came to London in April 2009 to conduct Brahms’s profound A German Requiem. He presided over a performance of rare reflection and inevitability at the Royal Festival Hall that prompted an extraordinary silence from a capacity audience. In the young Canadian’s hands, Brahms’s uplifting choral masterpiece is marked by astutely judged tempi, emphasising the drama and the moment and drawing in and immersing the listener into this live concert recording.
‘Under the conspicuously talented Yannick Nezet-Seguin it shone, it thundered, it inspired awe and consolation in equal measure. I can’t honestly remember when it last sounded so all-enveloping...With wonderfully sensitive and articulate singing from the London Philharmonic Choir the fine balance between the work’s deep and abiding compassion and its death-defying exultation was memorably achieved. Awe was duly forthcoming as the mighty cortege of “Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras” rolled out, low horns and pounding timpani accentuating its black splendour, and those fugal codas were properly rollocking, hopeful affairs – blasts from the past powering towards the future.’ The Independent, April 2009
‘The choral singing was wonderfully intense, and soloists Elizabeth Watts and Stéphane Degout were both outstanding. The long silence at its close, which no one dared fracture with applause, was testament to its impact.’ The Guardian, April 2009
“It's an extraordinary interpretation: for one thing, at least in the first two movements, it must be the slowest account I've ever heard...Yet, to be fair, the effect is neither glacial nor too ponderous, but a passionate interpretation of burning sincerity, distinguished by superbly-sustained choral singing and orchestral playing.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2010 ****
“I found so many things to enjoy about this recording...The live-ness, for one...the Royal Festival Hall has somewhat miraculously gained ambience, or at least atmosphere, probably thanks to the tension carefully sustained by the interpretation, and more particularly by the performers.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2010
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Varèse - Orchestral Works Volume 2
The works on this recording span Varèse’s entire career, containing his sole surviving early composition, Un Grand Sommeil Noir, and his last, unfinished work, Nocturnal, brilliantly and seamlessly completed by the composer’s disciple and assistant during the last seventeen years of his life, the composer Chou Wen-Chung. Chiefly, though, the recording features the world première recording of the original version of Amériques, for a massive orchestra of 155 players, recorded immediately following a rare public performance at the Warsaw Philharmonic (only its second since the 1920s) as part of the 2005 Warsaw Autumn Festival.
“With Varèse fans still revelling in Riccardo Chailly's groundbreaking 1998 Decca cycle, anybody else approaching this provocative and inflammable music better have something profound to say: Christopher Lyndon-Gee and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra don't let the side down. These Polish musicians are well used to the rough-and-tumble of performing the early textural works of Penderecki and Górecki and that visceral rawness, inherent in their own culture, transmutes powerfully to these seminal Varèse scores.
The standout performance for sure is the original 1921 version of Amériques, scored for an orchestra of over 150 musicians and an offstage 'banda'. Lyndon-Gee marshals his charges with a careful ear to balancing this monolithic ensemble: Varèse's emphatically reiterated rhythmic mantras are daintily articulated, but the musicians never sound browbeaten by his attention to detail. The elemental power of the closing moments is feral way beyond the call of duty.
Performances of the trail-blazing percussion ensemble work Ionisation, and other classics like Hyperprism, Densité 21.5 and Ecuatorial, are cut from the same devoted cloth. And the rest of the album is devoted to curios like Dance for Burgess and Tuning Up, reconstructed by Varèse's pupil Chou Wen-Chung and recorded for the first time by Chailly. Tuning Up was conceived for a 1947 film about Carnegie Hall and incorporates Iveslike illusions to Varèse's own and borrowed music, all ricocheting against repeated As. Inevitably he came to blows with the film-makers, but Lyndon- Gee makes one think the by-product of their collaboration might be a minor masterpiece.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“These Polish musicians are well used to be rough-and-tumble of performing the early textural works of Penderecki and Górecki and the visceral rawness, inherent in their own culture, transmutes powerfully to these seminal Varèse scores.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2008
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