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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72


Jonas Kaufmann (Florestan), Adrianne Pieczonka (Leonore), Tomasz Konieczny (Pizarro), Hans-Peter König (Rocco), Olga Bezsmertna (Marzelline), Norbert Ernst (Jaquino), Paul Lorenger (Shadow Pizarro), Nadia Kichler (Shadow Leonore)

Wiener Philharmoniker & Konztertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor, Franz Welser-Möst

Staging: Claus Guth

Sets and costumes: Christian Schmidt

Claus Guth’s strikingly experimental new production drew fervent reactions at its premiere at the 2015 Salzburg Festival. On an elegantly spartan set - suggestive of Freud's ‘salon of the unconscious’ - the opera is reworked with amplified noises and ambient sounds substituting for the traditional dialogue and the inclusion of hand-signing doppelgangers who shadow some of the lead characters. “Jonas Kaufmann’s gorgeously sung Florestan”(Financial Times) and Leonora - “triumphantly sung by Adrianne Pieczonka” (The Guardian/Observer) - masterfully execute Guth’s conceptual exploration of the mind’s ability to self-impose its own prison.

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Sony - 88875193519

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Summer Night Concert 2016

Summer Night Concert 2016


Berlioz:

La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Rákóczi March

Bizet:

L'Arlésienne Suite No. 2

Offenbach:

Can-Can (from Orpheus in the Underworld)

Poulenc:

Concerto in D minor for Two Pianos & Orchestra

Katia and Marielle Labèque (pianos)

Ravel:

Daphnis et Chloé - Suite No. 2

Boléro

Saint-Saëns:

Le carnaval des animaux: Finale

Strauss, J, II:

Wiener Blut Waltz, Op. 354


The Summer Night Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic is an annual open-air event that takes place in the magical setting of the Schönbrunn Palace Baroque park in Vienna with the palace as a magnificent backdrop. Entrance to the concert is free, and each year up to 100,000 people take up the invitation. The concert is also broadcast on TV and radio in more than 60 countries, and thus reaches an audience of millions. This year’s Summer Night Concert will take place on Thursday 26 May, 2016. The eminent Seymon Bychov will conduct the Summer Night Concert, with Katia and Marielle Labèque playing as soloists.

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Yanni: The Dream Concert

Yanni: The Dream Concert

Live from The Great Pyramids of Egypt


Disc: 1

1. One Man's Dream (Live)

2. For All Seasons (Live)

3. Yanni: Welcome (Live)

4. Felitsa (Live)

5. Acroyali (Live)

6. Human Condition (Live)

7. Dreams Come True Interlude (Live)

8. Reflections of Passion (Live)

9. Standing in Motion (Live)

10. Nostalgia (Live)

11. Niki Nana (Live)

12. Santorini (Live)

13. International Space Station Message (Live)

14. The Storm (Live)

Disc: 2

1. Introduction: Dream Sequence (Live)

2. One Man's Dream (Live)

3. For All Seasons (Live)

4. Yanni: Welcome (Live)

5. Felitsa (Live)

6. Acroyali (Live)

7. Human Condition (Live)

8. Dreams Come True Interlude (Live)

9. Reflections of Passion (Live)

10. Standing in Motion (Live)

11. Nostalgia (Live)

12. Niki Nana (Live)

13. Santorini (Live)

14. International Space Station Message (Live)

15. The Storm (Live)


Yanni

The No. 1 selling, composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and global phenomenon Yanni has performed his distinctive music in exotic and historic locations all across the world. From his groundbreaking concert at the Acropolis to his most recent televised performance at El Morro, Puerto Rico, Yanni has pushed the boundaries of the way audiences experience live music. After performing at China's Forbidden City and India's Taj Mahal, Yanni realized his lifelong dream to perform at the foot of the Sphinx at the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt — the last of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World that remains today. The November 2015 concert was captured in 4K state-of-the-art high definition audio and video, and features a career-spanning selection of fan favorites, along with never-before-performed songs and new arrangements of his classic compositions. YANNI: THE DREAM CONCERT - LIVE AT THE GREAT PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT will be released on CD/DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Download on June 3 via Sony Music Masterworks’ imprint Portrait Records.

Yanni holds the record for most No. 1’s in Billboard’s New Age category, racking up 40-plus platinum and gold albums with sales of over 25 million. A multiple Grammy Award nominee, Yanni is truly a global artist and has sold out tour dates around the world and performed for millions of people. His primarily instrumental works cross all barriers; without lyrics, the music is accessible to all listeners regardless of age, race, language or culture.

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Puccini: Gianni Schicchi

Puccini: Gianni Schicchi


Plácido Domingo (Gianni Schicchi), Arturo Chacón-Cruz (Rinuccio), Andriana Chuchman (Lauretta), Greg Fedderly (Gherardo), Meredith Arwady (Zita), Stacey Tappan (Nella), Craig Colclough (Simone), Peabody Southwell (La Ciesca), Philip Cokorinos (Betto di Signa), Liam Bonner (Marco), Isaiah Morgan (Gherardino), E. Scott Levin (Maestro Spinelloccio), Kihun Yoon (Ser Amantio di Nicolao), Daniel Armstrong (Pinellino), Gabriel Vamvulescu (Guccio)

Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, Grant Gershon (conductor) & Woody Allen (director)

Directed by Woody Allen

Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi is the only opera Woody Allen has ever staged. The 2015 version on this release is a revival of Woody Allen’s 2008 production for L.A. Opera, a hilarious parody of classical Italian cinema stereotypes. Features Plácido Domingo in the leading role as Gianni Schicchi.

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Verdi: La forza del destino

Verdi: La forza del destino


Anja Harteros (Leonora), Jonas Kaufmann (Alvaro), Ludovic Tézier (Carlo), Nadia Krasteva (Preziosilla), Vitalij Kowaljow (Padre Guardiano), Renato Girolami (Fra Melitone)

Bayerisches Staatsorchester & Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper, Asher Fisch (conductor) & Martin Kušej (director)

Martin Kušej’s thrilling contemporary interpretation of Verdi’s late opera proved the perfect vehicle for the Bavarian State Opera’s dream-team of Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros. The imposing sets’ references to terrorism and the implosion of modern civilisation bring the opera’s inherent drama to a breathtaking pinnacle.

“A large part of the characterisation comes from the sheer quality of Harteros’s singing, poised and perfectly shaped, with an impeccable sense of style, the voice itself slightly hazy in colour but totally focused. This is a wonderful performance...Tézier is hardly less stylish, and sings with thrillingly rich and generous tone.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - June 2016

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Sony - 88875160649

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Jonas Kaufmann: An Evening With Puccini

Jonas Kaufmann: An Evening With Puccini

Live From Teatro Alla Scala


Curtis, E:

Non ti scordar di me

(encore)

Puccini:

Ecco la Casa...Torna ai felici di (from Le Villi)

Le Villi - Preludio, La tregenda

Orgia, Chimera Dall'occhio Vitreo (from Edgar)

Edgar: Prelude to Act III

Donna non vidi mai (from Manon Lescaut)

Manon Lescaut: Intermezzo Act III

Ah! Non v'avvicinate! No, pazzo son (from Manon Lescaut)

Tosca: Prelude to Act Three

E lucevan le stelle (from Tosca)

Madama Butterfly: Intermezzo Act II, part 2

Una parola sola! … Or son sei mesi (from La Fanciulla del West)

Suor Angelica - Intermezzo

Nessun dorma (from Turandot)

Recondita armonia (from Tosca)

(encore)

Ch'ella mi creda libero e lontano (from La Fanciulla del West)

(encore)

Refice:

Ombra di Nube

(encore)


Jonas Kaufmann (tenor)

Filarmonica della Scala, Jochen Rieder

On the 14th June 2015, German tenor Jonas Kaufmann walked onto the stage of La Scala Milan, the home of Italian opera, for one of the most highly anticipated performances of last year. The concert of Puccini arias made national news in Italy, and following five encores and 40 mins of applause audiences were still left wanting more. This legendary performance is now the focus of a new concert film “Jonas Kaufmann – An Evening of Puccini”, directed by Brian Large and produced by Arts Alliance. Cinema audiences worldwide experienced this unforgettable event, and now viewers at home will be treated to a revealing introduction to Puccini – the man, the musician, the superstar – narrated by Jonas and featuring rare archive footage. Jonas Kaufmann‘s La Scala concert programme contains a selection of Puccini’s hit tenor arias of which all appear on on the Classical No. 1 album – “Nessun dorma – The Puccini Album”.

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Cavalleria Rusticana & I Pagliacci

Cavalleria Rusticana & I Pagliacci


Leoncavallo:

I Pagliacci

Jonas Kaufmann (Canio), Maria Agresta (Nedda), Dimitri Platanias (Tonio), Alessio Arduini (Silvio), Tansel Akzeybek (Beppe)

Mascagni:

Cavalleria Rusticana

Jonas Kaufmann (Turiddu), Liudmyla Monastyrska (Santuzza), Ambrogio Maestri (Alfio), Annalisa Stroppa (Lola), Stefania Toczyska (Mamma Lucia)


Staatskapelle Dresden, Sachsischer Staatsopernchor, Christian Thielemann

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

As comparably short operas, Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci are often billed together, but seldom is the lead tenor making his double role-debut as Turiddu and Canio on the same evening. At the 2015 Salzburg Easter Festival Jonas Kaufmann did just that - to rapturous praise. Universally hailed as a coup for Kaufmann, the plaudits were also showered on Philipp Stölzl for his innovative compartmentalized staging which included live video projections while referencing the era of black-and-white movies.

“We have plenty of the thrilling, untrammelled and ringing sound that the tenor is capable of at his best...Happily, Kaufmann’s outstanding central performances are well matched, both musically and scenically...on his own terms, Stölzl creates a drama of real intensity...Thielemann is always aware of the drama and the beauties of the playing are many.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2016

“Rather than heart-on-sleeve slancio, [Thielemann] gives the music plenty of space, as well as elegance and delicacy when required...Stölzl’s innovative use of split staging and close-ups of characters who are ‘off-stage’ always enhances the main action rather than being a distraction from it...If this Cav is all monochrome and claustrophobic, Pag is a riot of colour and energy.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 18th March 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

18th March 2016

GGramophone Magazine

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month - May 2016

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Sony - 88875193409

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New Year's Concert 2016

New Year's Concert 2016


Hellmesberger:

Ball Scene

Stolz, R:

Uno-Marsch

Strauss, E:

Mit Extrapost, Op. 259

Ausser Rand und Band - Polka schnell, Op. 168

Strauss, J, I:

Seufzer Galopp, Op. 9

Strauss, J, II:

Schatz-Walzer, Op. 418

Violetta, Op. 404

Vergnügungszug, Op. 281

Eine Nacht in Venedig Overture

Sängerlust (Joy Of Singing), Op. 328

Fürstin Ninetta (Princess Ninetta): Entr'acte

Kaiser-Walzer, Op. 437

Auf der Jagd, Op. 373

Strauss, Josef:

Sphärenklänge, Op. 235

Auf Ferienreisen - Polka schnell, Op. 133

Die Libelle - Polka mazur, Op. 204

Waldteufel:

Espana, Op. 236

Ziehrer:

Weaner Mad'ln, Walzer, Op. 388


As a brand name, the Vienna New Year’s Concert can trace back its origins to 31 December 1939. In other words, the concert initially took place on the last day of the year. By 1941, however, it was being held on 1 January, when the Vienna Philharmonic established a tradition that continues to flourish to this day.

The list of names of leading conductors who have led the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concerts reads like a veritable who’s who of great maestros: including Herbert von Karajan, Lorin Maazel, Claudio Abbado, Carlos Kleiber, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Seiji Ozawa, Mariss Jansons, and Franz Welser-Möst.

It is not least thanks to this illustrious succession of great conductors that the Vienna New Year’s Concert remains unique, ushering in the New Year in a way that has often been imitated but never equalled. Its universal popularity is undoubtedly due to the direct – or deferred – live broadcast from the flower-filled Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein. The first broadcast went out on Eurovision in 1959, the first colour relay in 1967. Now the concert is shown in countries throughout almost the entire world.

It continues to be works by members of the Strauss family – Johann Strauss Father and Son as well as Eduard and Josef Strauss – that are central to this media event. Old favourites from their output are heard alongside others that have never been recorded or are only rarely heard; all of them programmed around two fixed points in the concert: the Blue Danube Waltz and the Radetzky March.

Mariss Jansons ranks among the outstanding podium personalities of our time. He has been the Chief Conductor of the Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks since 2003. After several exceptionally successful seasons, his contract was prolonged until 2018. Until recently he was also the chief conductor of the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest in Amsterdam (2004-2015) and held both prestigious positions of a chief conductor at both orchestras. Both ensembles made the top 10 in a 2008 Gramophone list of the world's top 20 orchestras.

“Here is music and music-making in which elegance, dash and lightness of spirit sit side by side with pools of emotional quiet which can haunt the mind for days to come.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2016

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Purcell: The Indian Queen, Z630

Purcell: The Indian Queen, Z630

Peter Sellars’ New Version


Julia Bullock (Teculihuatzin/Dona Luisa), Vince Yi (Hunahpu), Nadine Koutcher (Dona Isabel), Christophe Dumaux (Ixbalanque), Markus Brutscher (Don Pedrarias Davila), Noah Stewart (Don Pedro de Alvarado), Maritxell Carrero (Leonor)

MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis

This is the second creative project bringing together conductor Teodor Currentzis and director Peter Sellars (the first being the operatic double-bill of Iolanta and Perséphone staged in Madrid in 2012), and also the first collective production of three opera companies — the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Spanish Teatro Real and the English National Opera.

The action is set in Central America. Spanish colonialists are at war with the native Mayan people. In the face of the armed forces the locals appear armed with bows and arrows, but they are mere children. Blood runs like a river. The Mayans resort to trickery – in order to infiltrate the enemy, the daughter of the Mayan chief becomes a concubine to the commander of the Spanish army. The plan brings her unexpected happiness (she falls in love with the commander and has children with him) but also tragedy (the Spanish colonialists continue the massacre of the Mayans). With nowhere to turn for help, the only hope is that the great Mayan gods will descend from the sky to the earth at the critical moment…

The scenery recreates the symbolic and colourful decoration of the Mayan tribes and the Zapatista Army — a modern national liberation movement in Mexico. The music is performed by an international ensemble of soloists, choir and the orchestra musicAeterna.

“the camerawork has incredible intimacy and musical sensitivity…the MusicAeterna Choir and Orchestra of Perm Opera hug every hairpin and cleave to the exotic timbres of the continuo…sopranos Julia Bullock and Nadine Koutcher [are] outstanding as the lovesick Teculihuatzin and the homesick, horrified Dona Isabel” BBC Music Magazine, April 2016 ****

“punchy playing from Perm Opera's MusicAeterna orchestra under Teodor Currentzis...The Perm chorus...also field Purcell's sacred anthems with refreshing directness...Yet the more the evening slides on, the more the tools in Sellars's armoury grow rusty...The sympathetic and hard-working Julia Bullock is the Queen...and two very different countertenors, the soprano-ish Vince Yi and the silkier-sounding Christophe Dumaux, both impress.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2016

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Puccini: La fanciulla del West

Puccini: La fanciulla del West


A celebrated new production of Puccini’s La fanciulla del West from the Vienna State opera featuring Jonas Kaufmann and Nina Stemme. Staged by Marco Arturo Marelli, who sets it in a modern-day mining village, with the feel of a gritty modern drama, during the American gold rush of 1849. An unlikely setting for an Italian opera, but one that has a happy ending. It tells the tale of Minnie, the bartender in the saloon whom all the local men adore, and Dick Johnson alias Ramerrez, a notorious bandit. Dick and Minnie fall in love on first meeting, so much so that he vows to change his life as a bandit, sung by two contemporary great singers: Nina Stemme and Jonas Kaufmann. A new production from Marco Arturo Marelli brought one of Puccini’s rarely performed works to the Vienna State Opera stage in September 2013. Jonas Kaufmann in his role debut as the wanted and notorious bandit Ramerrez proves ideally cast, full of power, with his breathtakingly beautiful baritone timbre. "Nina Stemme and Jonas Kaufmann are the opera’s must-see couple for a generation… The rich playing of the Vienna orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst shows up the colour and detail of Puccini’s score to spectacular effect” Financial Times.

“The star couple are on top form...In the theatre Stemme sounded one size larger vocally than Kaufmann but the tenor's burnished tone and romantic magnetism come across impressively on disc. Tomasz Konieczny does well not to be upstaged as a searingly forceful Jack Rance...The combined strengths of this performance make Son'y DVD a clear first choice among recent releases.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2016

Presto Discs of 2015

Finalist

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - March 2016

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Sony - 88875064069

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