Benjamin Luxon

Baritone

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Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex

Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex

and works by Strauss and Kodály


Kodály:

Háry János Suite

Strauss, R:

Elektra (highlights)

Stravinsky:

Oedipus Rex

Peter Pears (Oedipus), Kerstin Meyer (Jocasta), Donald McIntyre (Creon), Benjamin Luxon (Messenger), Alec McCowen (narrator)


Both Strauss’s Elektra and Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex trace their lineages back to Sophocles, the Greek dramatist who lived in the fourth century BC. Both are stories of the avenging of a royal father’s murder, either by surviving family members (Elektra), or by Fate or the gods themselves (Oedipus Rex).

Even from an early age, Georg Solti knew that his greatest ambitions lay in the opera house. ‘From a purely musical point of view, working closely with singers teaches you to make music in a way that breathes – even in purely instrumental music,’ Solti once remarked. In his youth, Solti assisted Bruno Walter, Issay Dobrowen, Fritz Busch and Erich Kleiber. In Salzburg, in 1937, he was rehearsal pianist for Arturo Toscanini. So, by the time he came to conducting his first opera (Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro) at age 26, he knew the ropes, so to speak. According to him, to ‘play rhythmically but softly, so that the singers always feel the pulse but need not tire their voices’ was a crucial factor in being a repetiteur. He continued, ‘don’t play all the notes, but play all the essential notes; when you are coaching an individual singer in a role, take the lead, but when you are playing for a staging or ensemble rehearsal, follow – follow for dear life! I was able to follow the worst singer to hell and back. I could have followed a bird’s chirping.’

Exclusively a Decca recording artist (apart from a few recordings made for Deutsche Grammophon, RCA and CBS by arrangement with Decca), he made more than 250 recordings for the company over a 50-year period: 1947–1997, taking in music from Bach to Tippett. The three excerpts from Elektra (amounting to nearly half the complete opera) are particularly fascinating as this was an opera Solti conducted throughout his career and which he later recorded in its entirety in Vienna in the 1960s with the incomparable Birgit Nilsson in the title-role. Even in this group of three scenes all the essential Solti characteristics are in evidence: tremendous rhythmic drive and an acute ear for orchestral colour and detail.

“the dark sobriety and essentially lyric qualities of Stravinsky’s “opera-oratorio” are freshly and memorably conveyed in this recording” Gramophone Magazine, February 1978 (Stravinsky)

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4806579

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Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro, K492

Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro, K492

Live Recording From The Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 1973


Knut Skram (Figaro), Ileana Cotrubas (Susanna), Kiri Te Kanawa (Countess Almaviva), Benjamin Luxon (Count Almaviva), Frederica von Stade (Cherubino), Marius Rintzler (Bartolo), Nucci Condo (Marcellina)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Glyndebourne Chorus, John Pritchard (conductor) & Peter Hall (director)

Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart’s timeless opera buffa, is one of the greatest of all operatic masterpieces. It is based on Beaumarchais’ comedy Le Mariage de Figaro and tells the tale of the servant Figaro, who is about to marry the maid Susanna. Count Almaviva, keeping an eye on Susanna himself, tries to prevent this marriage with the help of Bartolo, the doctor, but is continually thwarted.

This classic 1973 production by legendary director Peter Hall features a cast of renowned opera singers lead by Kiri Te Kanawa as the Countess, arguably her finest role and certainly the role that made her an international superstar. Knut

Skram’s charming and charismatic take on the character of Figaro complements Ileana Cotrubas’ gentle Susanna, and also noteworthy is the outstanding performance by Frederica von Stade as Cherubino.

It is doubtless thanks to the supreme conductorship of John Pritchard that excellent singers, who perform even in supporting roles, provide a well-rounded ensemble performance. Pritchard had been associated to the Glyndebourne theatre since 1947, and he gradually took over to continue Fritz Busch’s initial work as a Choirmaster and Assistant.

Sound Format: PCM Stereo

Picture Format: 4:3

DVD Format: DVD 9 / NTSC

Subtitle Languages: IT (Original Language), GB, DE, FR, ES

Running Time: 185 mins

FSK: 0

“A straightforward production by Peter Hall and a near-ideal cast proves as completely satisfactory as I can imagine this perfect opera being.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2013 *****

“Skram, lithe of figure and firm of tone is very good...Te Kanawa sings the Countess with beautiful tone, clarity and phrasing...No wonder she was the outstanding exponent of the role in the last decades of the nineteen hundreds...Cotrubas, as ever, presents an appealing stage presence and acts well whilst singing with clear diction and expressiveness.” MusicWeb International, 25th June 2013

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Summer Opera Sale

Arthaus Musik - 102301

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Kodály: Choral Works

Kodály: Choral Works


Bartók:

Cantata Profana 'The Nine Enchanted Stags', BB 100, Sz. 94

Tamas Daroczy (tenor) & Alexandru Agache (baritone)

Choir of Hungarian Radio & TV & Budapest Festival Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti

Kodály:

Psalmus hungaricus, Op. 13

Lajos Kozma (tenor)

London Symphony Orchestra, Wandsworth School Boys’ Choir & Brighton Festival Chorus, István Kertész

Missa brevis

Elizabeth Gale, Sally le Sage, Hannah Francis (sopranos), Alfreda Hodgson (contralto), Ian Caley (tenor), Michael Rippon (bass), Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ) & Gillian Weir (organ)

Brighton Festival Chorus, László Heltay

Pange lingua

Elizabeth Gale, Sally le Sage, Hannah Francis (sopranos), Alfreda Hodgson (contralto), Ian Caley (tenor), Michael Rippon (bass), Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ) & Gillian Weir (organ)

Brighton Festival Chorus, László Heltay

Geneva Psalm 114

Elizabeth Gale, Sally le Sage, Hannah Francis (sopranos), Alfreda Hodgson (contralto), Ian Caley (tenor), Michael Rippon (bass), Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ) & Gillian Weir (organ)

Brighton Festival Chorus, László Heltay

Hymn of Zrínyi

Benjamin Luxon (baritone)

Brighton Festival Chorus, László Heltay

Laudes organi

Fantasia on a 12th century sequence

Gillian Weir (organ)

Brighton Festival Chorus, László Heltay


Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók were Hungary’s two most important composers in the 20th century. They were both friends and colleagues, working separately and together to document and preserve folk music from Hungary and its surrounding regions. The music they collected strongly influenced their own compositions. Decca was one of the first major record companies to invest in recordings of the choral music of Kodály. Perhaps spurred by the success of István Kertész’s recording of Psalmus Hungaricus, they continued to record a number of the composer’s choral works under the direction of László Heltay. All of these recordings are collected over a double-CD, coupled with Bartók’s Cantata Profana, one of Sir Georg Solti’s last recordings, for which he provides very moving commentary in the booklet.

“Kertesz's intense Psalmus Hungaricus is the keeper here but Heltay's Missa Brevis and Weir playing the rarely heard Laudes Organi are among other considerable valuables.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 ****

“Heltay has been astonishingly successful in inspiring Benjamin Luxon (in admirable form) and his fresh-toned choir to the fervour and sensitivity they show in this patriotic work” Gramophone Magazine (Kodály: Hymn of Zrinyi)

“The solo singers are all excellent as are the organist and the chorus” Gramophone Magazine (Kodály: Missa Brevis)

“an invigorating performance” Gramophone Magazine (Kodály: Psalmus Hungaricus)

“Heltay conducts his chorus in a broad, sweeping performance that is impressive” Gramophone Magazine (Kodály: Pange Lingua)

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4804853

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Walton: Belshazzar's Feast, Choral Works & Songs

Walton: Belshazzar's Feast, Choral Works & Songs


Walton:

Coronation Te Deum

Salisbury Cathedral Choir, Winchester Cathedral Choir & Chichester Cathedral Choir

Belshazzar's Feast

Benjamin Luxon (baritone)

London Philharmonic Choir & London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti

Jubilate Deo

First release on CD

Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Simon Preston

Set me as a seal upon thine heart

First release on CD

Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Simon Preston

Where does the uttered music go?

First release on CD

Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Simon Preston

Missa Brevis

First release on CD

Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Simon Preston

The Twelve

First release on CD

Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Simon Preston

A Litany 'Drop, drop slow tears'

First release on CD

Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Simon Preston

All this time

First release on CD

Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Simon Preston

Make we joy now in this fest

First release on CD

Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Simon Preston

What cheer?

First release on CD

Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Simon Preston

A Song for the Lord Mayor's Table

First release on CD

Three Sitwell Songs

First release on CD

Heather Harper (soprano) & Paul Hamburger (piano)


This 2CD set reveals two sides of Walton, the composer of music for the voice. CD1 features the extravagant side of the composer with multiple choirs and a huge orchestra for swaggering performances of the Coronation Te Deum and Belshazzar’s Feast, both with Sir Georg Solti conducting. CD2, with all items released on CD for the first time, features the more intimate side of the composer, with settings of choral miniatures, from the earliest setting (Drop, drop, slow tears of 1917) up to the 1972 Jubilate. Simon Preston’s LP was released on Argo to mark Walton’s 70th birthday. The remainder of the items come from a L’Oiseau-Lyre LP coupling songs by Walton and Machonchy and performed by Heather Harper. A Song for the Lord Mayor’s Table was commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths for the first City of London Festival; the texts were chosen by the English dramatist and poet Christopher Hassall and the poems come mostly from 18th-century verse related to London. The collection is rounded off with Walton’s Three Songs to poems by Dame Edith Sitwell date from 1932, all based on the composer’s Façade.

“Solti's Belshazzar's Feast is more symphonic than dramatic but monumentally impressive. Preston directs a useful anthology of short choral works.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 ****

“The disc thus gives a panorama of the composer's choral development over five decades … Preston has welded the choir into a most expressive and flexible instrument … The disc does credit to all concerned and will add lustre to the already high standard of Argo recordings in this field.” Gramophone Magazine (CD2: Choral works)

“Decca have done it again, transferring this highly spectacular choral work [Belshazzar’s Feast] with incredible aplomb. The Coronation Te Deum is hardly less impressive, the choral sound richer textured to suit the occasion, and there is a great bass pedal effect near the end. … Solti has come to Belshazzar's Feast, a great British masterpiece, and in his refreshing way has given it a crisp, international look … It is certainly a most distinctive performance, sharply focused and helped by a recording of superb clarity and brilliance … Indeed the range and bite of the sound here is little short of miraculous” Gramophone Magazine (Belshazzar’s Feast, Coronation Te Deum)

“Heather Harper’s singing … is a constant pleasure. Paul Hamburger, a first-rate accompanist who has appeared far too little on records, plays the quite demanding piano parts with great skill and sensitivity” Gramophone Magazine (Songs)

“Georg Solti brings out the tragic elements of Belshazzar's Feast to great effect in this excitingly dramatic recording with Benjamin Luxon as the soloist. This set also includes a stirring account of the Coronation Te Deum with the combined might of the choirs of Salisbury, Winchester and Chichester cathedrals.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38, etc.

Elgar:

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Enigma Variations, Op. 36


EMI Gemini - 5000612

(CD - 2 discs)

$9.75

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Strauss, J, II: Die Fledermaus

Strauss, J, II: Die Fledermaus


Kiri Te Kanawa, Hermann Prey, Benjamin Luxon, Hildegard Heichele (guest appearances by Hinge & Bracket, Charles Aznavour, Merle Park & Wayne Eagling)

Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Placido Domingo

Subtitles in German, English, Japanese, Spanish

DVD Video

Region: 2,3,4,5

Format: NTSC

Summer Opera Sale

Warner Classics Warner Vision - 4509992162

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Fauré: Messe de Requiem & Cantique de Jean Racine

Fauré: Messe de Requiem & Cantique de Jean Racine


Fauré:

Requiem, Op. 48

Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11


Released or re-released in last 6 months

Argo - 4832455

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Available now to download.

Britten: Song Cycles

Britten: Song Cycles


Britten:

Lemady

Bonny at morn (Folksongs Volume 6 version)

Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn (Watching the Wheat)

Lord! I married me a wife

She's like the swallow

Beware! - Three Early Songs

Tit for Tat

O Waly, Waly

Sweet Polly Oliver

Down by the Salley Gardens

Songs and Proverbs of William Blake, Op. 74


Benjamin Luxon (baritone), David Willison (piano)

Chandos - CHAN8514

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The Ultimate Experience

The Ultimate Experience


Felicity Lott (soprano), Dmitry Shostakovich (piano), Lydia Mordkovitch (violin), Marina Gusak-Grin (piano), Philip McCann (cornet), Peter Morrison (baritone), Marilyn Hill Smith (soprano), Margaret Fingerhut (piano), Benjamin Luxon (baritone), David Willison (piano), Raphael Wallfisch (cello), Robert Aldwinckle (harpsichord), Seta Tanyel (piano), J. Brown (piano), Louis Lortie (piano), Stephen Hough (piano), Claude Lamothe (cello), Timothy Hutchins (recorder), Simon Wynberg (guitar), Malcolm Hicks (organ)

Scottish National Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Gabrieli String Quartet, Musici de Montreal, I, Black Dyke Mills Band, Chandos Concert Orchestra, Borodin Trio, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Soloists of Australia, Scottish Chamber Orche, Neeme Jarvi, Vernon Handley, Maxim Shostakovich, Stuart Barry, Geoffrey Simon, Ronald Thomas, Alexander Gibson, Bryden Thomson, Yuli Turovsky, Adrian Shepherd, Mariss Jansons

Neeme Järvi - up to 20% off

Chandos - CHAN8601

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Warlock Songs

Warlock Songs


Warlock:

The Wind from the West

Whenas the rye

My gostly fader

Sorrow's Lullaby

As ever I saw

Take, O take those lips away

The bayley berith the bell away

Sweet Content

Mourn no moe

There is a lady sweet and kind

Play Acting

Captain Stratton's Fancy

Mr Belloc's Fancy

Late Summer

Hey troly loly lo

The Bachelor

Rest, sweet nymphs

Piggesnie

Sleep

Autumn Twilight

Milkmaids

I held love's head

Thou gav'st me leave to kiss

Yarmouth Fair

Ha'nacker Mill

The Night

My Own Country

Walking the Woods

The First Mercy

The Jolly Shepherd

Passing By

The Fox


Benjamin Luxon (baritone), David Willison (piano)

Chandos - CHAN8643

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