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Valery Gergiev conducts Stravinsky
Dsd recording, Mariinsky Concert Hall, St Petersburg December 2009 (Les Noces) Feb 2010 (Oedipus Rex)
sung in russian
Mlada Khudoley (soprano), Olga Savova (mezzo), Alexander Timchenko (tenor), Andrei Serov (bass), Svetlana Smolina, Yulia Zaichkina, Alexander Mogilevsky, Maxim Mogilevsky (pianos)
sung in latin
Sergei Semishkur (Oedipus), Ekaterina Semenchuk (Jocasta), Evgeny Nikitin (Creon & Messenger), Mikhail Petrenko (Tiresias), Alexander Timchenko (shepherd) & Gérard Depardieu (narrator)
SACD in jewelcase with 80pp booklet in slipcase Notes in Russian, English & French.
Each release from the Mariinsky label to date has featured music by some of the great Russian composers with whom the Mariinsky Theatre has enjoyed close relationships. For the label’s sixth release, Valery Gergiev turns to the music of Igor Stravinsky, a composer who grew up in St Petersburg, attending performances at the Mariinsky Theatre where his father sang. Less than four years separate the premieres of Les Noces and Oedipus Rex, yet they each represent high-points in two distinct phases of Stravinsky’s career. Although the concept of Les Noces is highly innovative – a ‘dance cantata’ – the music remains rooted in Russian folk traditions. Stravinsky dedicated the ballet to Diaghilev, whose Ballet Russes gave the première, and it marks the crowning glory of Stravinsky’s so-called ‘second Russian period’. The opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex is the first great work of Stravinsky’s neo-classical period. It features a major change in his compositional style, influenced in part by the loss of ‘Russian identity’ following his emigration. It is sung in Latin with Jean Cocteau’s original French narration spoken here by Gérard Depardieu. Valery Gergiev conducts a Stravinsky festival with the New York Philharmonic in April and May 2010, including performances of both Oedipus Rex and Les Noces. Later in May he conducts the LSO in London as well as on tour in Ireland and Germany performing music by Stravinsky, Debussy and Messiaen. Forthcoming releases from Mariinsky include the second title in Gergiev’s Grammy-nominated Shostakovich Symphony cycle followed in September by Wagner’s Parsifal. LSO Live releases Gergiev’s new recording of Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony in May, the first release in a cycle of the composer’s symphonies, and indeed the first by the composer on LSO Live.
“Ekaterina Semenchuk...[is] the contralto with the biggest range and lustre since Bernstein's Troyanos, and Sergey Semishkur's Oedipus blends clarion authority with youthful pathos...all the right musical phrases shine through. Even Bernstein's recording can't match it for earthy authenticity.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2010 *****
“Ekaterina Semenchuk (Jocasta) sounds plummy at first but she and Sergei Semishkur (Oedipus) bring electrifying intensity to the duet where they realise their guilt. Overall this is a double-bill of at times shattering impact.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2010
“this performance [of Les Noces], recorded live, has idiomatic vocal forces, essential for this fundamentally Russian work...the Mariinsky Chorus and players relish the primitivist rhythmic verve of this singular masterpiece.” Sunday Times, 16th May 2010 ***
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Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde), René Pape (Wotan), Jonas Kaufmann (Siegmund), Anja Kampe (Sieglinde), Mikhail Petrenko (Hunding), Zhanna Dombrovskaya (Gerhilde), Irina Vasilieva (Ortlinde), Natalia Evstafieva (Waltraute), Lyudmila Kanunnikova (Schwertleite), Tatiana Kravtsova (Helmwige), Ekaterina Sergeeva (Siegrune), Anna Kiknadze (Grimgerde), Elena Vitman (Rossweisse)
Mariinsky Orchestra, Valery Gergiev
In February 2013 the Mariinsky label launches its most ambitious project to date, releasing the first title in a cycle of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by Valery Gergiev. Recorded in the sumptuous acoustic of the Mariinsky Concert Hall, the cycle features a sensational cast, helping create the most finely crafted Ring cycle of modern times.
The first release features Die Walküre, starring Anja Kampe, Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape, Nina Stemme, Mikhail Petrenko and Ekaterina Gubanova. Recorded during sessions and performances in 2011 and 2012, it will be released internationally in February 2013 in a 4-disc Super Audio CD box and as a high resolution download. This will be followed in September 2013 by the Das Rheingold (chronologically the first opera in the cycle, although originally envisaged as a prelude by Wagner) with Siegfried and Götterdämmerung completing the cycle in 2014.
Der Ring des Nibelungen was the pinnacle of Richard Wagner’s long and turbulent career and without question one of the greatest achievements in opera. Wagner wanted to create the perfect synthesis of music and drama and assumed total creative control of the project which was to take him 26 years to complete, with frequent interruptions. He introduced numerous innovations, not least the sheer scale of the project – typically a complete performance will last in excess of 15 hours, spread over four evening. No other opera matches the scale or ambition of the Ring. The Mariinsky Theatre has close connections with Wagner and his music. The composer conducted at the theatre and was even offered the post of Music Director. It is also believed to be the first place where any of the music from the Ring was performed. Since Valery Gergiev became Music Director of the Mariinsky, Wagner’s music has once again become a core part of the theatre’s repertoire, both in St Petersburg and on tour. The Mariinsky label’s recording of Wagner’s final opera Parsifal starring René Pape, Gary Lehmann and Violetta Urmana, was released in 2010 to international acclaim.
“In the first act at least, with Jonas Kaufmann as an incomparable Siegmund, Anja Kampe a profoundly moving Sieglinde and Gergiev pacing the performance to an overwhelming climax, the result is spellbinding...In fact, few performances on disc can match it for sheer excitement, or for Kaufmann's blend of easy power, immaculate diction and lyric beauty...a fine beginning to what promises to be a very worthwhile cycle.” The Guardian, February 2013 ****
“it’s thrilling … If this instalment is anything to go by then this it’s going to be a Ring to cherish.” MusicWeb International, 31st January 2013
“Wagnerites will not be disappointed...[Gergiev] he has imported what is arguably the best quartet of principals available today for this opera – Stemme’s classic Brünnhilde, Kampe’s exciting Sieglinde, Pape’s heavyweight Wotan and, yes, the peerless Kaufmann.” Financial Times, 2nd February 2013 ****
“Act I has Jonas Kaufmann’s heroic, poetic Siegmund at the peak of his powers, partnering a limpid, youthful-sounding Sieglinde in Anja Kampe — a dream pair of Wälsung twins for our time, and one to compare with the greatest on disc. Nina Stemme’s Brünnhilde, too, is a Valkyrie for the ages...She is one of the most complete and musical Brünnhildes ever recorded” Sunday Times, 17th February 2013
“Stemme, in particular, is a magnificent Brünnhilde, emphasising the humanity of a woman discovering the meaning of love rather than the fierce Amazon. She stands in powerful contrast to the awesomely implacable Wotan of René Pape...Jonas Kaufmann is a consummate Siegmund, and Ekaterina Gubanova makes a regally persuasive Fricka...[but] the result that the opera’s moral grandeur never registers” The Telegraph, 22nd February 2013
“This show belongs to Jonas Kaufmann, whose bronzed timbre is deeply satisfying whether in heroic or intimate utterance. His legato is immaculate … Kaufmann sings as thrillingly as any Siegmund since Jon Vickers … the recorded sound is excellent.” International Record Review, March 2013
“[Stemme] is rock solid throughout her range, with gleaming top notes without any great wobble or sense of blasting the speakers...[Kaufmann's] baritonal timbre and almost smoky half tones make his Siegmund intensely masculine...The orchestral playing is excellent, especially lower woodwinds in solo passages, while the brass is superb...It is to be fervently hoped that Gergiev’s luxury casting stretches to the whole cycle.” Mark Pullinger, Opera Britannia, 8th February 2013
“The result, in superb sound, is revelatory...[Kampe] gives Sieglinde both lyrical beauty and narrative power, well matched by Jonas Kaufmann's Siegmund...[Pape] turns out to be the finest [Wotan] I've heard lately...Most exciting of all is Nina Stemme's Brunnhilde, larger-voiced and steelier than one might expect, yet feminine, spirited and vulnerable... So far this recalls, and must rank with, the great Rings of the 1960s. More, please.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2013 *****
“Stemme has the measure of her role in spades...Act 1 goes well from all three participants...Gubanova is a lively, probing Fricka and the Valkyries a well-saddled bunch. The still decidely un-Western sound of Gergiev and his orchestra is a dramatic advantage to this opera's tense underlay.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2013
BBC Music Magazine
Opera Choice - May 2013
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