Presto News - 27th September 2010
Jonas Kaufmann: Verismo Arias
Autumn is traditionally the time of year that we see a number of high profile releases from the current big stars of the opera and vocal world. This year is no different and the first of those - Jonas Kaufmann’s disc of Verismo Arias - is released today. It sets the bar very high indeed.
Verismo is a style which has come to represent a period of Italian opera which grew up in about 1890 with Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, and lasted into the twentieth century. Verismo operas typically depict realistic settings of modern everyday life, often violent or sordid, and as such the characters tend to be less complex and more directly emotional. The most famous Italian composer of this period is Puccini, but not all of his operas fit into this style and for his new album Kaufmann chooses to focus entirely on Puccini’s contemporaries - composers like Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Giordano and Cilea.
Some of the arias are reasonably well known (such as those from Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci) while others were new to me, but what they all have in common is a very direct emotional pull which is thrilling to hear. Technically, Kaufmann is so secure that he can concentrate entirely on the music and communicating the emotions. And what I find really impressive is that Kaufmann is able to get so inside the characters to such a degree that his breathing changes and his entire sound alters. I’m sure it is not a conscious thing and it really blows you away.
Kaufmann is already well known in the German and French repertoire but the quality which he now brings to this Italian music is quite astonishing. He speaks fluent Italian which undoubtedly helps him get deeper inside the music, understand double–meanings and spot secrets hidden between the lines.
Throughout this disc Kaufmann demonstrates that his voice is absolutely at its peak - warm and full-bodied in the middle, dark and rich at the bottom, and exciting and radiant at the top. And he receives splendid support from Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia under Antonio Pappano who clearly love and breathe this music every bit as much as Kaufmann.
The programme is varied in terms of mood, structure, and key, so they are not all about suffering and deaths and there is even the odd smattering of joy! I’ve put a short video trailer on the website where you hear an extract from the disc as well as Kaufmann talking about this release.
In all, an incredible achievement and this comes thoroughly recommended.
Jonas Kaufmann: Verismo Arias
Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano
Chris O'Reilly - firstname.lastname@example.org
27th September 2010
Bach Cantatas - Volumes 12 and 18
Final Two volumes of the celebrated Bach Cantata Series from SDG
Volumes 12 and 18 are the much awaited last two volumes of the Bach Cantatas Pilgrimage, one of the most talked about musical events of the last decade.
As usual some superb soloists including Magdalena Kožená, Bernarda Fink, Michael Chance and James Gilchrist. And Volume 12 includes one of Bach’s best known cantatas - Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme ('Sleepers, wake'), BWV140.
The Romantic Violin Concerto 9 - Ferdinand David
Hagai Shaham (violin), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins
Ferdinand David is principally known today as the dedicatee of Mendelssohn’s violin concerto; he gave the premiere of the work in 1845. But in his time he was also celebrated as a composer, and Hyperion is delighted to present this disc of world premiere recordings as Volume 9 in the Romantic Violin Concerto series.
Rózsa & Bartók: Viola Concertos
Lawrence Power (viola), Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Andrew Litton
The British viola player Lawrence Power continues to be acclaimed as one of the greatest performers of today. Together with Hyperion he is recording all of the seminal twentieth-century works for the viola. Of the three Hungarian works for viola and orchestra on this latest release, the best-known is Bartok’s viola concerto, completed after the composer’s death by Tibor Serly.
Tim Meade (Flavio), Rosemary Joshua (Emilia), Iestyn Davies (Guido), Renata Pokupić (Vitige), Hilary Summers (Teodata), Thomas Walker (Ugone), Andrew Foster-Williams (Lotario), Early Opera Company, Christian Curnyn
Although Flavio, premiered in 1723, deals with motives of love, honour, and duty, the tone is domestic, with less emphasis than in many other operas on political or military changes of fortune. Though hardly a comedy, it does seem to move to a more detached view of human interactions. The action is set in Lombardy during the dark ages: the stratagem of sending unwanted individuals away to govern Britain – striking overtones of honour and punishment – would no doubt have been taken humorously by the London audiences.
Edition Staatskapelle Dresden - Volume 31
Staatskapelle Dresden, Christian Thielemann
Live recording from Semperoper Dresden in September 2009 of Bruckner's monumental 8th symphony in its "third version" (the Robert Haas edition of 1939).
Britten: Peter Grimes
Anthony Dean Griffey (Peter Grimes), Vivian Tierney (Ellen Orford), Steven Page (Captain Balstrode), Susan Gorton (Auntie), London Philharmonic Orchestra & The Glyndebourne Chorus, Mark Wigglesworth
Glyndebourne’s association with the music of Benjamin Britten extends back to the early 1940s. Benjamin Britten and Glyndebourne’s then Chairman John Christie were not obvious colleagues. They had very little in common. Both were from very different backgrounds, John Christie being a recipient of the Military Cross while Britten spent World War World II years in the US as a conscientious objector. Glyndebourne staged the premiere of The Rape of Lucretia in 1946 and in the following year, the premiere of Albert Herring. After this premiere, Britten commented of Christie as “a mischievous, mad old man”. Britten wasn’t invited back, and 34 years of the Glyndebourne Festival elapsed until another of his operas - Midsummer Night’s Dream - was staged in 1981. Glyndebourne has gone on to acclaimed productions of The Turn of the Screw, Billy Budd, Owen Wingrave, Death in Venice, Albert Herring and this acclaimed Trevor Nunn production of Peter Grimes from 2000.
Beethoven: Solo Piano Works, Volume 9
Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano)
In eight previous volumes Ronald Brautigam has traversed what is often called 'The New Testament of Piano Music', namely Beethoven's 32 numbered sonatas. The present disc may be regarded as an appendix to these, as it explores the composer's first attempts in the genre. It opens with the three Kurfürsten Sonatas from 1783, in which Beethoven - at the tender age of twelve - demonstrates a remarkable maturity.
Tchaikovsky: Cherevichki (The Slippers) - DVD
Dancers of The Royal Ballet & Orchestra of The Royal Opera House, Alexander Polianichko (conductor) & Francesca Zambello (stage director), Choreography: Alastair Marriott.
Based on Gogol’s fantastical and comic story of the Devil’s antics on Christmas Eve, this magical blend of opera and ballet is brought to vivid life in Francesca Zambello’s colourful production. Magnificent set designs (Mikhail Mokrov) and costumes (Tatiana Noginova), and an excellent, largely Russian cast provide authenticity. Splendid dancing by The Royal Ballet and Cossack dancers completes the spectacle.
Also available on Blu-ray here.
BBC Radio 3 CD Review
Saturday 25th September 2010
Building a Library - Brahms: String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51 No. 1
Disc of the Week
Mahler: Symphony No. 10
Recomposed by Matthew Herbert
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