In The Studio
11th April 2013
Stravinsky from Sir John Eliot Gardiner on LSO Live
He's already celebrated his imminent 70th with an epic Bach Marathon at the Albert Hall, but the ever-versatile Sir John Eliot Gardiner will be spending his actual birthday week touring with Stravinsky's opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex: following performances with the LSO and the men of the Monteverdi Choir in Cologne, Paris, Brussels and London, a recording will be issued on LSO Live next year. Australian heldentenor Stuart Skelton takes the title-role, with the outstanding young British dramatic mezzo Jennifer Johnston as his mother/wife and Gidon Saks as Creon.
30th March 2013
St Matthew Passion from René Jacobs and Harmonia Mundi
René Jacobs is to record the St Matthew Passion with the RIAS Kammerchor and Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin: this is the first time that he's committed a Passion to disc as conductor (though he sang the alto solos on Gustav Leonhardt's landmark 1989 recording) and we can't wait to hear how he'll bring the keen dramatic instinct that's so evident in his opera recordings to bear on the work. With Werner Güra as Evangelist, Johannes Weisser as Christus and stellar soloists (Sunhae Im, Bernarda Fink, Topi Lehtipuu and Konstantin Wolff) this promises to be one of the highlights of the autumn!
18th February 2013
Der Freischütz on LSO Live
Sir Colin Davis and the LSO's grand-scale account of Weber's tale of supernatural skulduggery certainly impressed the critics last April at the Barbican, and we can confirm that it's scheduled for release on the orchestra's own label in May. The impressive cast includes acclaimed Wagnerians Christine Brewer and Simon O'Neill as the star-crossed lovers Agathe & Max, Sally Matthews as the flightly Ännchen and Stephan Loges doubling as the prince Ottokar and the disembodied voice of the ghostly 'Black Huntsman' Zamiel. A new English-language narration, penned by Amanda Holden and read by Malcolm Sinclair, replaces the dialogue.
5th February 2013
Franco Fagioli sings arias for Caffarelli
We were knocked sideways by Franco Fagioli's bravura turn on the recent Vinci Artaserse, and judging from some of the press and customer-feedback we weren't the only ones! The Argentinean countertenor's growing legion of fans will be pleased to hear that a solo recital on Naive is in the pipeline, focusing on arias written for the brilliant soprano castrato Gaetano Majorano, as famous for his technical virtuosity and powerful upper register as for his hell-raising antics on- and off-stage! Accompanied by Il Pomo d'Oro under Riccardo Minasi, the repertoire will include music by Cafaro, Hasse, Leo, Sarro, Vinci, Porpora, Pergolesi and Manna; due out in the autumn.
20th January 2013
Britten War Requiem from Paul McCreesh
We mentioned plans for a Britten War Requiem from Pappano, Bostridge et al back in October, but word has just reached us of a second enticing recording of the work which is in the pipeline from Paul McCreesh and the combined forces of the Gabrieli Consort and Players, the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir and the boys of New College Oxford, with Susan Gritton, John Mark Ainsley and Christopher Maltman in the solo roles. The Wroclaw/Gabrieli collaborations on the Berlioz Grande Messe and Mendelssohn's Elijah rank among the finest recent choral performances on disc, so we can't wait to hear what they'll do with the Britten! Due out on Signum in September.
8th January 2013
Julia Lezhneva's solo debut on Decca
Around this time last year we revealed that the astonishing young Russian coloratura Julia Lezhneva had signed an exclusive solo contract with Decca, and we now have news regarding the first instalment: recorded in Barcelona in November, 'Alleluia' will include Mozart's Exsultate, Jubilate and bravura solo cantatas by Handel, Vivaldi and Porpora, with Giovanni Antonini conducting Il Giardino Armonico. Ms Lezhneva has already made her mark on Decca with a much-praised Rossane in Handel's Alessandro, so we await her solo label-debut with bated breath! Due out in April.
11th December 2012
Jonas Kaufmann in Wagner Scenes
As the mighty Jonas Kaufmann sets La Scala ablaze with his Lohengrin this week and prepares for his first Parsifal at the Met, it gives us great pleasure to announce that a new all-Wagner disc is due out on Decca in February. Exact repertoire is yet to be confirmed, but is rumoured to feature excerpts from roles which he's yet to assume on stage (Siegfried and Tannhäuser) as well as those which he's already made his own (Siegmund and Lohengrin). No Tristan yet, but there will be a taster of sorts in the form of the Wesendonck-Lieder, rarely recorded by male voices and sure to receive an intense reading from acclaimed Wagnerian Donald Runnicles.
5th November 2012
Deutsche Grammophon sign Piotr Beczala
The Polish tenor Piotr Beczala's been making waves of late, most notably as Rodolfo in Salzburg this summer: Deutsche Grammophon recently released the performance on DVD, and it's just been announced that he's signed a multi-album solo deal with the label. Following in the footsteps of Joseph Calleja's recent Mario Lanza tribute, his first project will be an homage to Richard Tauber, focusing on operetta classics and including a Lehár 'duet' with a recording of Tauber himself! Due for release in May 2013.
5th November 2012
Complete Villa-Lobos Symphonies from Sao Paulo
We've just heard that the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra's new Naxos disc of Villa-Lobos is the first instalment of a complete set of the symphonies on the label, to be completed in 2017. The cycle will be only the second complete survey of these works on disc, and will use new editions prepared in collaboration by the Brazilian conductor and Villa-Lobos scholar Isaac Karabtchevsky, the orchestra's archivist, and some of the players themselves.
30th October 2012
Gergiev's Ring Cycle on Mariinsky
Casting has just been revealed for the first instalment of Valery Gergiev's Ring Cycle, due out in early 2013 to mark the bicentenary of Wagner's birth: Gergiev has chosen to begin with Die Walküre, but will return to the 'vorabend' Das Rheingold further down the line. Nina Stemme sings her first Brünnhilde on disc, with René Pape as Wotan; Jonas Kaufmann returns to the role of Siegmund (which he also sang on the Met's new DVD set, released last month) opposite Anja Kampe as his sister/lover and Mikhail Petrenko as her husband Hunding.
19th October 2012
Ian Bostridge & the Britten Centenary
Hailed as one of the greatest Britten interpreters since Peter Pears, it's no surprise that Ian Bostridge will figure prominently on several of next year's anniversary releases from EMI. First up (for release in January) is Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, recorded live at the 2011 Aldeburgh Festival under Oliver Knussen with Angelika Kirchschlager in the title-role and Peter Coleman-Wright as Tarquinius; later in the year, Bostridge joins Anna Netrebko for a War Requiem with Antonio Pappano, who will also partner him for a recital-disc including the Michelangelo Sonnets.
3rd October 2012
Four-part Jenkins from Phantasm
Chris spent an enjoyable afternoon down in Berkshire yesterday, eavesdropping on a recording-session for Phantasm's new disc of four-part viol consort music by John Jenkins: their recordings of the five- and six-part consorts on the Avie label were widely acclaimed, with the former being nominated for the Early Music category in the 2007 Gramophone Awards. The disc's due out on Linn next year, and footage of Chris chatting to Phantasm's founder Laurence Dreyfus will be live on Presto Classical's youtube channel very soon!
24th September 2012
Winterreise from Alice Coote and Julius Drake
As glowing reviews pour in from her Kathleen Ferrier Tribute Recital at the Wigmore Hall last Thursday, we're very excited at the prospect of having Alice Coote's Winterreise on disc: recorded at the same venue in January, with her long-term recital-partner Julius Drake at the piano, the performance was hailed as being 'stamped with the individual quality owned only by its greatest interpreters' (MusicOMH). Due for release on Wigmore Hall Live in spring 2013.
11th September 2012
Handel Arias from Christopher Purves & Arcangelo
We've been enjoying Christopher Purves's gloriously villainous turn as the titular tyrant on Harry Christophers's acclaimed new recording of Saul (The Times opined that 'Purves in full cry is a splendid and fearful spectacle'), so we were very pleased to hear that he's been in the studio committing a recital of Handel's operatic arias to disc. He'll be accompanied by Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo (last heard to great effect on Iestyn Davies's Arias for Guadagni) in a programme including arias from Radamisto, Agrippina, Acis & Galatea and others, scheduled for release on Hyperion early next year.
30th August 2012
'In memoriam Josquin' from the King's Singers on Signum
The King's Singers will be exploring the legacy of Josquin Desprez for their next recording project, which is to include Richafort's great Requiem (dedicated to the composer) as well as tributes by Gombert, Jacquet of Mantua, Benedictus Appenzeller and Hieronymus Vinders in new editions by David Skinner.
The disc will be the group's first with their newest recruit and first foreign national member, Kiwi baritone Chris Bruerton, who joined last year. Due out on Signum Classics in March 2013.
23rd August 2012
Rodgers & Hammerstein from the John Wilson Orchestra
There's a real treat for musical-lovers in the offing for the autumn: following on the success of last year's MGM tribute That’s Entertainment, we hear that John Wilson and his hand-picked orchestra will be bringing us a cornucopia of Rodgers & Hammerstein, featuring classics from South Pacific, Carousel, Oklahoma & The Sound of Music. Soloists include musical-theatre stars Sierra Boggess, Anna-Jane Casey and Julian Ovenden as well as guest appearances from Joyce DiDonato and Maria Ewing. Due out on EMI in October.
15th August 2012
Giulio Cesare from Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco
There's an embarrassment of riches coming up on the baroque opera front this autumn/winter, but one of the stand-outs has to be a new Giulio Cesare from Alan Curtis, boasting a triumvirate of star contraltos: Marie-Nicole Lemieux is the titular hero, with Mary Ellen Nesi as her nemesis Tolomeo and Romina Basso as Cornelia. The peerless Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin is Cleopatra, and Johannes Weisser the lone male in the cast as Achilla. Due out on Naive towards the end of the year.
6th August 2012
New Met Ring Cycle from Levine & Lepage
We're thrilled to announce that Deutsche Grammophon will be releasing the recent Met Ring Cycle (directed by Robert Lepage, with James Levine in the pit) on DVD and Blu-ray later this year; cast includes Bryn Terfel as Wotan, Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, Eva-Maria Westbroek and Jonas Kaufmann as the Walsung twins, Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried, Eric Owens as Alberich, Waltraud Meier as Waltraute and Stephanie Blythe as Fricka. A DVD documentary 'Wagner's Dream - the Making of the Ring' and a double-disc of audio highlights will also be available.
12th July 2012
Mozart opera cycle from Nézet-Séguin & Deutsche Grammophon
News just in that the French-Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin has signed a long-term agreement with Deutsche Grammophon: projects will include Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (due out early next year) and the seven major Mozart operas, featuring Rolando Villazón in all the lead tenor roles. (The first instalment, Don Giovanni, will be released in September and stars Joyce DiDonato, Luca Pisaroni, Diana Damrau and Ildebrando d'Arcangelo).
6th July 2012
Verdi from Villazon
After recent forays into baroque music, Massenet and even directing, we hear that Rolando Villazón is set to return to Italian opera for his next solo recital on Deutsche Grammophon: gearing up for next year's Verdi anniversary, the disc will include a selection of songs alongside opera arias, encompassing the well-known (Rigoletto, Don Carlo and Falstaff) and the not-so-well-known (Il Corsaro, I due Foscari, Alzira and Jérusalem). Gianandrea Noseda will conduct the Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino; due for release in November.
3rd July 2012
Les Troyens from the Royal Opera House
Our editor was blown away this weekend by David McVicar & Antonio Pappano's blazing collaboration on Berlioz's epic, and we're thrilled to announce that it'll be released on Opus Arte in February 2013. Anna Caterina Antonacci is a compelling Cassandre and Eva-Maria Westbroek the ill-fated Queen of Carthage, whilst relative newcomer Bryan Hymel triumphs as Énée. Supporting cast includes Robert Lloyd, Fabio Capitanucci, Ed Lyon, Ji-Min Park, Pamela Helen Stephen & Brindley Sherratt. And the Horse is spectacular!
29th June 2012
Dimitri Tiomkin's Film Scores from the LSO
Next month sees the launch of LSO Live's new occasional series of discs devoted to film composers, kicking off with multi-Oscar-nominee Dimitri Tiomkin: tracks will include music for Cyrano de Bergerac, Giant, High Noon and of course Rawhide. Richard Kaufman conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices.
19th June 2012
A new Vivaldi discovery: Sardelli records a second Orlando Furioso
Vivaldi's 1727 Orlando Furioso was one of the works which kickstarted the revival of interest in his operas, but news is just in that an earlier setting has been unearthed, pre-dating even the lesser-known Orlando Finto Pazzo - you'll be able to hear it for yourself this autumn, courtesy of Naive. Originally thought to be the work of Giovanni Ristori, the manuscript has now been authenticated as genuine Vivaldi by 18th-century opera specialists Federico Maria Sardelli (who will conduct) and Reinhardt Strohm. Cast to include David DQ Lee, Romina Basso and Teodora Gheorghiu.
12th June 2012
Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos. 1-3 with Gergiev and the LSO
Following on from the success of his DVD of Tchaikovsky's last three symphonies with the Mariinsky Orchestra, Valéry Gergiev has committed the lesser-known Nos. 1-3 to disc with the LSO: recorded live at the Barbican last spring, the performances were praised for their 'balletic poise' (The Independent) as much as for their 'majestic grandeur' (The Guardian). Due out on LSO Live in the autumn.
6th June 2012
Romantic Arias from Elīna Garanča
After taking time out for the birth of her first child last year, we hear that the glamorous Latvian mezzo Elīna Garanča has been back in the studio to record a new recital-disc with Yves Abel and the Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Moving on from the success of her bel canto disc, Garanca is dipping a toe into more dramatic waters with arias from Samson et Dalila and Tchaikovsky's Joan of Arc as well as rarities by Lalo, Gounod and Vaccai. Romantique is due out on Deutsche Grammophon in the autumn.
22nd May 2012
Russian songs from Jonathan Lemalu & Joseph Middleton
Our website editor was lucky enough to hear the New Zealand-born bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu and up-and-coming pianist Joseph Middleton perform Mussorgsky's macabre Songs & Dances of Death in recital a few weeks ago, and we're pleased to be able to confirm that the cycle will be at the heart of their forthcoming disc of Russian songs on the theme of death, to be recorded for Champs Hill this summer. Release scheduled for the end of the year.
9th May 2012
Rattle records Carmen with Kozena and Kaufmann
A real operatic dream-team, this: EMI are to release a new recording of Bizet's Carmen with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker and an A-list cast including his wife Magdalena Kožená as the fatalistic heroine and Jonas Kaufmann as the corporal whom she drives to despair and murder. Rattle has emphasised his interest in underlining the intimate opera comique dimension of the work rather than its full-blooded verismo qualities, which chimes perfectly with the casting of the relatively light-voiced Kozena - on the evidence we've heard, she's set to redefine the role of Carmen, and Kaufmann is, predictably, sublime. More details when we have them!
3rd May 2012
HJ Lim records Ravel and Scriabin for EMI
We spent an incredible evening at Abbey Road Studios last night courtesy of EMI Classics and one of their recent signings, the firebrand Korean pianist HJ Lim, who spoke with huge eloquence and passion about her forthcoming Beethoven Sonatas Cycle and gave us an utterly electrifying performance of Ravel's La Valse as a taster for her next project for the label. EMI first encountered Lim in an extraordinary recital of Scriabin and Ravel in Lisbon last year, and it is this very programme which we'll get to hear when the disc is released in early 2013. Watch out for this one - it's very special indeed!
23rd April 2012
Leonidas Kavakos signs up with Decca
We've just heard that the charismatic Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos has signed an exclusive contract with Decca, a label which he credits as 'a significant influence in my youth'. The first installment of Kavakos's Beethoven series at the Wigmore Hall earlier this year won praise for his 'commitment to musical interplay and textural exploration' (The Arts Desk), so it's auspicious that his first project with the label is to be a complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas cycle with pianist Enrico Pace. More details when we have them!
3rd April 2012
Complete Mozart Opera Series from the Classical Opera Company
Having hugely enjoyed their effervescent Artaxerxes last year, we were very pleased to see that Ian Page and his Classical Opera Company have committed another rarity to disc in the shape of Mozart's Apollo et Hyacinthus (written when the composer was just 11!) - and even more pleased when we heard that it's to be the first volume in their complete cycle of Mozart operas on Linn Records. Not only do the COC have some of our most promising young singers lined up, but the project will fill some interesting gaps in the current catalogue: L'oca del Cairo and Ascanio in Alba, anyone?!
22nd March 2012
Britten Song-Cycles from Mark Padmore and James Gilchrist
As things gear up for the centenary of one of Britain's great composers next year, we bring news of forthcoming recital-discs from two of Britain's finest tenors: Mark Padmore and the Britten Sinfonia's new accounts of both the Serenade (in which he is partnered by Stephen Bell, the orchestra's principal horn) and the Nocturne are due for release on Harmonia Mundi in a few months' time, and further down the line we can look forward to James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook in The Holy Sonnets, On this Island and the Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo (scheduled for release on RSK in the autumn).
9th March 2012
ROH Trittico due for release on Opus Arte
Since the recent cinema broadcasts of Puccini's triptych from the Royal Opera House we've had several enquiries as to whether this fantastic Richard Jones production will be coming out on DVD, and we're pleased to be able to tell you that Opus Arte have just confirmed that they'll be releasing it in June. Antonio Pappano conducts a compelling cast which includes Eva-Maria Westbroek (Giorgetta), Lucio Gallo (Michele/Schicchi), Ermonela Jaho (Angelica) and Anna Larsson (La Zia Principessa).
15th February 2012
Julia Lezhneva signs exclusive solo contract with Decca
News just in that the 22-year-old Russian soprano Julia Lezhneva is set to record a series of recital discs for Decca. This immensely exciting and distinctive young singer caught our attention back in April with a scintillating Rossini heroines disc on Naive (you can read our thoughts on it here), so we're most excited to see where she'll go now! Precise details are still currently under wraps, but word has it that the contract will give us the chance to hear Ms Lezhneva in some of the repertoire which the young Joan Sutherland recorded for the label...
31st January 2012
Britten's War Requiem with the LSO, Bostridge and Keenlyside
We're very pleased to announce that last autumn's Britten War Requiem from the Barbican is to be issued on LSO Live in a few months' time: the performance, under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda and featuring Ian Bostridge, Simon Keenlyside and Slovenian soprano Sabina Cvilak in the taxing solo roles, was lauded by The Telegraph's Ivan Hewett for its 'hugely impressive' orchestral playing, 'amazingly vivid' choral singing and overall 'emotional truth'. Due out as a double SACD set in late spring.
4th January 2012
Christopher Maltman in Kaspar Holten's Juan
Christopher Maltman's Salzburg Don Giovanni is already something of a modern legend, so we were intrigued last year by rumours that he would sing the title-role in a new film of the opera, directed by Head of Opera at Covent Garden, Kaspar Holten. Sung in English (Maltman himself worked on the translation) and condensed into 90 minutes, the film was shot on location in Budapest and references The Bourne Trilogy and Traffic, with 'Juan' as a famous visual artist and playboy. The cast also features Eric Halfvarson, Mikhail Petrenko and Elizabeth Futral, as well as a non-singing cameo from Plácido Domingo! Juan will be released on Axiom Films later this year.
9th December 2011
Mariusz Kwiecien's 'Slavic Heroes'
As reviews pour in for his "darkly dangerous" (Opera Britannia) Don Giovanni from the Met, we're pleased to reveal that you can look forward to a thrilling new release from Mariusz Kwiecien early next year, courtesy of Harmonia Mundi. In his first full-length opera recital disc, the Polish baritone will tackle rarities from the Russian and Eastern European repertoire (including arias from Mazeppa, Sadko, Prince Igor, Krol Roger and Aleko) as well as excerpts from one of his signature-roles, Eugene Onegin; he is accompanied by the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Lukasz Borowicz.
5th December 2011
'Tune thy Musicke to thy Hart': a Stile Antico & Fretwork collaboration
There's a real treat coming up after Christmas for early music lovers: the acclaimed young British vocal ensemble Stile Antico will be collaborating with 'the finest viol consort on the planet' (Evening Standard), Fretwork, for a programme of sacred music intended for domestic performance. Exact repertoire is still to be announced, but will include music by several of the Tudor and Jacobean composers with whom the group made their name (Tomkins, Cornysh and Byrd, among others) as well as works by some of their European contemporaries. Due for release in February 2012.
15th November 2011
Gheorghiu, Kaufmann and Terfel in Tosca
Having hugely enjoyed Covent Garden's Tosca again via last week's cinema broadcast, we're most excited that EMI have confirmed that they'll be bringing it out on DVD next year! The stellar cast is headed by Angela Gheorghiu as the eponymous diva, with Jonas Kaufmann as her revolutionary lover Cavaradossi, Bryn Terfel as a gloriously repellent Scarpia and Antonio Pappano at the helm. More details as soon as we have them!
30th September 2011
Netrebko and Garanca in Anna Bolena from Deutsche Grammophon
As Anna Netrebko triumphs as Donizetti's doomed Tudor queen at the Met this week, we've just heard that you'll be able to catch her recent incarnation of the role in Vienna on DVD and Blu-ray by the end of the year. Elīna Garanča is Anna's rival and successor Giovanna Seymour (she and Netrebko sparked off one another thrillingly on their last joint bel canto recording), with Francesco Meli as her ex-lover Percy and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (looking far more glamorous than history suggests!) as the much-married monarch. Evelino Pidò conducts; the production is by Eric Génovèse.
21st September 2011
Pappano's Mahler Six with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra
After their recent successes in both sacred and secular Rossini, Antonio Pappano and his Roman orchestra turn their hand to something completely different in the form of Mahler's 'Tragic' Sixth Symphony, recorded in live performances earlier this year. This will be the first of Mahler's works that Pappano has committed to disc (at least as a conductor - he accompanied Ian Bostridge in three early songs on last year's 150th Anniversary boxed set), though the composer is one of his abiding passions: in a recent interview, he remarked that 'it’s the love of life, not the love of death' which is at the core of the symphonies. Due for release on EMI in November.
9th September 2011
Glyndebourne's Turn of the Screw, Rinaldo & Meistersinger on Opus Arte
Having enjoyed them all immensely in the cinema and via online streaming, we were very pleased to learn that three wonderful productions from this year's Glyndebourne will be released on Opus Arte in early 2012. Jonathan Kent's 'shatteringly powerful' (The Telegraph) production of The Turn of the Screw stars Miah Persson in the pivotal role of the Governess and Toby Spence as a chillingly suave Quint. David McVicar's uncharacteristically traditional take on Die Meistersinger also won widespread acclaim, not least for Gerald Finley's beautifully-judged role debut as Hans Sachs: the supporting cast includes Topi Lehtipuu as his apprentice and Anna Gabler and Marco Jentzsch as Eva and Walther. Completing the triumvirate is Robert Carsen’s Rinaldo, with Sonia Prina as the titular crusader.
31st August 2011
McCreesh and the Gabrielis to record Elijah with Simon Keenlyside
If you enjoyed Sunday's Prom performance of Elijah as much as we did (we've already revisited it on iplayer several times!), you'll be very pleased to learn that it's being recorded pretty much as we write this for release next year on Winged Lion, the Gabrielis' own label. To recap, the principal soloists are Rosemary Joshua, Sarah Connolly, Robert Murray, Sarah Connolly and of course the great British baritone Simon Keenlyside, recreating his 'formidable' (The Telegraph) interpretation of the eponymous prophet; Paul McCreesh conducts the Gabrieli Consort and massed choirs. Release scheduled for September 2012.
18th August 2011
Janowski conducts 10-opera Wagner series on Pentatone Classics
We hear that Pentatone Classics are set to mark their 10-year anniversary with a 10-piece Wagner series (comprising The Ring, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde, The Flying Dutchman, Parsifal and Die Meistersinger) from Marek Janowski and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra: taken from live concert performances, this will be the first major Wagner cycle on SACD and will complete in 2013, the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth. We've already had a sneak preview of the first installment, a bracing Dutchman with Albert Dohmen and Matti Salminen: due out next month, it will be followed by Parsifal (with Michelle DeYoung as Kundry and Franz-Josef Selig as Gurnemanz) at the end of the year.
29th July 2011
Don Giovanni with D'Arcangelo, DiDonato, Pisaroni, Damrau and Villazon
We're very excited by the current talk of a mouth-watering prospect in the offing from Deutsche Grammophon: rumour has it that this week's star-studded concert-performances of Don Giovanni in Baden-Baden are to be released on CD next year. The cast, under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, could hardly be bettered: Ildebrando D'Arcangelo is the libidinous protagonist, with Luca Pisaroni as his sidekick Leporello (a role he sang to great acclaim on Glyndebourne's recent DVD), Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato and Mojca Erdmann as Anna, Elvira and Zerlina and Rolando Villazón as Ottavio, his first Mozart role on disc. More details when we have them!
23rd July 2011
Strauss operas from Gergiev and Welser-Möst
There's a double treat in store for Strauss-lovers this autumn, with two new opera recordings scheduled for October release. First up is Valéry Gergiev's coruscating account of Elektra on LSO Live, taken from concert-performances last January: Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet is the eponymous anti-heroine, with Angela Denoke and Matthias Goerne as her dysfunctional siblings, veteran mezzo Felicity Palmer as her ill-fated mother and British heldentenor Ian Storey as Aegisth. And if you prefer your Strauss with lyricism and happy endings rather than dissonance and axe-murders, there's Arabella on Orfeo with Adrianne Pieczonka in the title-role and Thomas Hampson as her Mr Right: Genia Kühmeier and Michael Schade make up the supporting cast under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst in a performance from the Vienna State Opera, recorded in 2008.
10th June 2011
Two more Schubert Cycles from Maltman and Johnson
We were very pleased to hear that Christopher Maltman and Graham Johnson are to follow their critically-acclaimed live recording of Die schöne Müllerin with the other two great Schubert cycles, also on Wigmore Hall Live, later this year: we've certainly enjoyed their Schöne Müllerin many times in the Presto office and the press have been equally enthusiastic, with Gramophone hailing it as an 'ardent, impulsive, intensely 'lived' performance' and the Sunday Times praising the 'ideal balance between soloist and pianist [which] leaves you wondering, at times, who is accompanying whom'. Recorded live at the venue last April and February respectively, Schwanengesang is scheduled for release in August, whilst Winterreise will (aptly enough!) be out in October.
24th May 2011
Turnage's Anna Nicole to be released on DVD and Blu-ray
Not strictly 'In the Studio', this (the production was recorded live at the Royal Opera House in February), but we've just learned that Mark-Anthony Turnage's controversial new opera about the tragic life of the Texan glamour-model is scheduled for release on Opus Arte this August. Directed by Richard Jones and conducted by Antonio Pappano, Anna Nicole stars the Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek, who won unanimous acclaim for her 'big-hearted, full-throttle performance' (Rupert Christiansen in The Telegraph) in the title-role, with strong support from Alan Oke as her octagenarian husband J. Howard Marshall II (a role originally conceived for the late Philip Langridge) and Gerald Finley as her Machiavellian lawyer, Howard K. Stern.
7th May 2011
Joseph Calleja – The Maltese Tenor
It's been five years since Joseph Calleja's last recital disc, and after his literally showstopping performance in Simon Boccanegra at last year's Proms (where he came perilously close to upstaging Placido Domingo!) we were most eager for another: fortunately, there's one in the Decca pipeline, due for release in the UK this August. It includes excerpts of some of the roles which have already won him international acclaim (Rodolfo, Hoffmann, Gounod's Faust - and of course that aria from Boccanegra) as well as glimpses of what might be on the horizon: the voice is noticeably richer, fuller and more open than it was five years ago, and snippets from Tosca, Un Ballo in Maschera and Boito's Faust certainly whet the appetite for more! Marco Armiliato and L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande accompany, and Decca's new star soprano Aleksandra Kurzak contributes a couple of delicious cameos in duets from The Pearl Fishers and Bohème.
2nd March 2011
Pappano records Rossini's William Tell with Gerald Finley
Building on the success of last year's Stabat Mater and sparkling Barber of Seville, Antonio Pappano continues to expand his Rossini discography with a new recording of Guillaume Tell starring Gerald Finley as the eponymous hero and Swedish soprano Malin Byström as the Habsburg princess Mathilde. Recorded live in concert in Rome with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia last autumn, the French-language performance also features John Osborn in the formidable high tenor role of Arnaud, and is scheduled for release on EMI in the summer. (April 2011: Pappano will conduct this work at the BBC Proms - with many of the same singers - on 16th July)
22nd February 2011
Fidelio with Nina Stemme and Jonas Kaufmann
More great news on the opera front from Deutsche Grammophon this week: we were most excited to hear that there's a new Fidelio in the offing (recorded under Claudio Abbado at last year's Lucerne Festival), starring Jonas Kaufmann as Florestan and Nina Stemme as his heroic wife (a role which she is scheduled to sing at Covent Garden just as the disc is released). Kaufmann's first Florestan (whilst on contract at Zurich back in 2004, and available on Arthaus) marked his transition into the dramatic repertoire which has since made him an international star, and judging from sneak previews of the Lucerne performances the intervening years have only served to strengthen and intensify his interpretation of this most taxing role. The cast also includes Falk Struckmann as the villainous Pizarro and Peter Mattei as his eleventh-hour nemesis, Don Fernando. Due for release in early summer.
14th February 2011
Sir Colin Davis conducts Haydn's Seasons with the LSO
As he nears the end of a triumphant run of Die Zauberflöte at Covent Garden this week, octagenarian Sir Colin Davis shows few signs of slowing down and we were very pleased to hear that his performance of Haydn's Die Jahreszeiten from the Barbican last June is soon to be released on LSO Live: press reviews of the concert were glowing, with The Guardian's George Hall commenting that Davis 'had the full measure of the sheer humanity of Haydn's vision, its tenderness and grandeur'. The soloists are Miah Persson, Jeremy Ovenden and Andrew Foster-Williams, and the performance is sung in German. Sir Colin's previous recording of the work for Philips (in English) back in 1969 is still considered to be one of the finest in the catalogue, so it will be interesting to see the fruits of forty years' hindsight! Due for release in May.
1st February 2011
Rolando Villazón and Elīna Garanča in Werther
In the wake of his directorial debut with a new production of Werther in Lyon last week, we hear that Rolando Villazón will be returning to his 'day-job' to sing the title-role on Deutsche Grammophon's forthcoming recording of the opera. Fresh from the triumphs of her smouldering Habanera disc and Carmen DVD, Elīna Garanča takes on the comparatively sober role of Charlotte: she has already committed the role to DVD, and on that evidence (and that of her shattering Letter Scene on her DG debut disc) this promises to be something very exciting indeed. Bertrand de Billy conducts the Orchestre National de Lyon, and the supporting cast includes Ludovic Tezier and Malin Christensson; due for release this summer.
21st January 2011
Pappano, Netrebko and Pizzolato: Pergolesi Stabat Mater
As the rapturous reviews continue to flood in for their gloriously red-blooded Rossini Stabat Mater, we hear that the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Antonio Pappano have recently finished recording what is probably the best-known setting of this text as part of their Tribute to Pergolesi, due out on Deutsche Grammophon in March. Superstar soprano Anna Netrebko (who headed the outstanding quartet of soloists on the Rossini disc) is joined by the up-and-coming young Sicilian mezzo Marianna Pizzolato for a programme which also includes the solo cantatas 'Nel chiuso centro' (based on the Orfeo myth) and 'Questo è il piano, questo è il rio'. Standard and deluxe (with DVD) versions will be released.
12th January 2011
Daniel Hope: The Romantic Violinist - A Celebration of Joseph Joachim
After the success of his Baroque Journey in late 2009, British violinist Daniel Hope is now turning his attention to the Romantic era with a programme of works associated with the great nineteenth-century violinist Joseph Joachim: the disc will include Max Bruch's evergreen Concerto No. 1 (with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under Sakari Oramo) as its centrepiece, as well as miniatures for violin and piano by Brahms, Clara Schumann and Dvorak and, of course, Joachim himself. Due for release on Deutsche Grammophon this spring.
4th January 2011
Dudamel's 'Tchaikovsky and Shakespeare'
Following their electrifying disc of Stravinsky and Revueltas last year, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela (fêted by The Telegraph as 'the world's hottest orchestra') and their inspirational conductor Gustavo Dudamel are taking on Tchaikovsky, with a disc of his Shakespeare-inspired works due out on Deutsche Grammophon this spring. As well as the much-loved Fantasy Overture to Romeo and Juliet, the programme will include the lesser-known Hamlet Overture and the early symphonic poem The Tempest.
15th December 2010
Don Giovanni from Glyndebourne
Hailed by Opera Today as "work of art in itself", Jonathan Kent's Dolce Vita-style production of Mozart's darkest opera won plaudits galore when it opened in Glyndebourne this summer, so we were very pleased to hear this week that a DVD is due for release on EMI in late spring. Starring the perennially-classy Canadian baritone Gerald Finley as the eponymous womaniser ("both steely monster and molten charmer", according to The Telegraph's Rupert Christiansen), the international cast also features Kate Royal as Donna Elvira and Luca Pisaroni as Leporello, with Vladimir Jurowski and the OAE in the pit.
4th December 2010
Complete Martinu Symphonies from Jiří Bělohlávek
Jiří Bělohlávek's acclaimed Martinu Cycle with the BBC Symphony Orchestra is soon to be available on Onyx: recorded live at The Barbican between October 2009 and May 2010, the performances were variously described as "one of the season's revelations" (Guy Dammann, The Guardian) and "overwhelmingly wonderful" (David Nice, The Arts Desk). A noted champion of the music of his countrymen, Bělohlávek already has a comprehensive Martinu discography to his name (previous projects have included a highly-regarded Second Violin Concerto with Isabelle Faust in 2008 and a Grammy-nominated account of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies with the Czech Philharmonic on Supraphon, released last December): this recording, however, will be his first complete cycle of the symphonies on disc, as well as his first all-Martinu recording with the BBC. The set comes with a comprehensive introduction by Bělohlávek as well as an essay by Martinu expert Michael Crump. Release scheduled for March 2011.
19th November 2010
Gardiner records the St John Passion and Brahms Requiem
Whilst we enjoy the recently-released final fruits of their mammoth Bach Cantata Series John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir certainly haven't let the grass grow, continuing their explorations of Bach with a St John Passion scheduled for release on SDG this coming April. Gardiner's earlier version of the work (from the mid-eighties) has become something of a landmark in the piece's recorded history, so it will be interesting to discover how the intervening years (and of course that epic pilgrimage) have affected his vision. And hot on the heels of his Brahms Symphonies, Gardiner also has a German Requiem in the pipeline for 2011: his recent Brahms discs have received particular acclaim for the burnished and insightful performances of the short choral works coupled with the symphonies, so this promises to be something really quite special indeed. More details on both when we have them!
12th November 2010
Das Rheingold from the Mariinsky
Looking right ahead to autumn 2011, there's some very exciting news for the Wagnerphiles and Gergiev fans among you: following on from the success of their incandescent Parsifal a few months ago, we hear that the Russian maestro and the Mariinsky will release the first installment of their projected Ring Cycle towards the end of next year, with a cast including the Mariinsky veteran and matriarch-in-chief Larissa Diadkova as Fricka and René Pape as Wotan. Pape made his long-awaited debut in the role at La Scala earlier this year to widespread critical acclaim, and on the basis of the gloriously-sung Rheingold excerpt on his recent Gods, Kings and Demons disc, his King of the Gods is sure to be one of the highlights of 2011.
3rd November 2010
Elizabeth Watts records Bach and Arne
The much-garlanded young British soprano Elizabeth Watts has been busy in the recording studio recently: her first solo disc on Harmonia Mundi - a recital of Bach Cantatas and Arias with the English Concert and Harry Bicket - is due out in the spring, and she also sings the fire-breathing Mandane on the forthcoming recording of Arne's Artaxerxes on Linn (likewise scheduled for release in early 2011). Watts's breathtaking account of the role at Covent Garden last year received unanimously glowing reviews, so this is definitely one to look out for.
20th October 2010
René Jacobs records La Finta Giardiniera
Following on from his controversial take on Mozart's final operatic masterpiece, Die Zauberflöte, René Jacobs will return to the composer's early career for the next installment in his ever-inventive Mozart opera series: written when the composer was just eighteen, La finta giardiniera looks forward to the later masterpieces in its fusion of opera seria (mistaken identity, attempted murder and madness) with opera buffa (a perky maid, a comic servant and of course a happy ending, complete with triple wedding!). Cast includes rising star Topi Lehtipuu as Count Belfiore and Jacobs veteran Alexandrina Pendatchanska as the vengeful Arminda. Full cast and release-date available in early 2011.
3rd October 2010
Natalie Dessay's Italian Lucia
We were delighted to learn that French soprano Natalie Dessay has committed her acclaimed Lucia di Lammermoor to disc for the Mariinsky label: she recorded the French-language version for Virgin back in the nineties and the famous mad-scene was a highlight of her most recent recital disc, but this release is our first opportunity to hear Dessay's complete 'Lucia', rather than 'Lucie'. Dessay has been hailed as the definitive Lucia of her generation, and with a strong supporting cast (including the glorious young Polish tenor Piotr Beczala as Edgardo and Mariinsky stalwart Vladislav Sulimsky as the saturnine Enrico) under the electrifying baton of Valéry Gergiev, this promises to be one of the operatic highlights on disc for next year. Due out in June/July 2011.
9th August 2010
Antonio Pappano records Rossini in Rome
Award-winning conductor Antonio Pappano and his acclaimed Roman orchestra the Accademia di Santa Cecilia have just finished recording Rossini's Stabat Mater at the stunning Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome.
More details nearer the time.
14th July 2010
Simon Rattle's first Tchaikovsky recording
Despite recording over 250 works over the past 30 years for EMI conductor Sir Simon Rattle has never previously recorded any Tchaikovsky. He is finally putting that right this autumn with the release of the most performed ballet of all time, The Nutcracker. Rattle describes the ballet as "one of the great miracles in music", and goes on to enthuse about the "extraordinary touches of orchestration, ideas that sound as though they were written 20 years later... and "the fountain of melodic adventure" that "almost beggars belief."
Release date currently looks like November, but more details nearer the time.
28th June 2010
Mark Padmore records Schubert and Schumann
Tenor Mark Padmore has been busy in the studio again this year with Harmonia Mundi recording more lieder discs. After their much lauded recording of Winterreise, Mark Padmore again teams up with Paul Lewis and turns to Schubert’s first song-cycle, Die schöne Müllerin, which follows a lovelorn young man on a melancholy journey of false hope. These two great artists are at the zenith of their careers and this promises to be every bit as good as the Winterreise. It is released at the end of July and you can find full details here.
Then later in the autumn we can look forward to Padmore singing Schumann as he is joined by fortepianist Krisitan Bezuidenhout for a recording of Dichterliebe and Liederkreis.
More details on this one nearer the time.
6th May 2010
The multi-talented Julia Fischer
Violinist Julia Fischer has recently recorded her second album for Decca. This time she has chosen Paganini's fiendishly difficult Caprices. It looks a late summer release, but before then you can enjoy the second volume of Schubert - Complete Works for Violin and Piano which is out on May 17th and in addition to the remainder of the Violin and Piano works also features her piano skills performing the Fantasie in F minor for piano duet with Martin Helmchen.
Also in the pipeline for later in the summer is a DVD for Decca again featuring her on Violin and Piano. Accompanied by the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie under Matthias Pintscher she is performing The Saint-Saens 3rd Violin Concerto and the Grieg Piano Concerto.
More details nearer the time.
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