Presto News - 23rd July 2012

L’Olimpiade: The Opera

Even the relatively un-sporty atmosphere in the Presto editorial office has been shaken up by the forthcoming London 2012 Games – not being ‘shaped for sportive tricks’, however, I think this newly-constructed Olimpiade is likely to be the closest I get to Olympic Fever! No newly-discovered manuscript, this, but instead a fascinating compendium of various composers’ responses to a single libretto by the great eighteenth-century poet Metastasio.

Astonishingly, over fifty composers set Metastasio’s libretto to music. While many of these settings have long since disappeared or continue to languish in various European libraries, this project has brought together selected arias from sixteen composers, including Antonio Caldara (who collaborated with Metastasio for the original setting in 1733, when the project was commissioned to mark the wedding of Emperor Charles VI) and Baldassare Galuppi who, according to the booklet-note, was well into the composition process before he realised that literally dozens of composers had pipped him to the post! Almost all the arias are world-premiere recordings: only Vivaldi’s contribution, I think, has been committed to disc before, by both Magdalena Kozena and Philippe Jaroussky.

The concept of the pasticcio seems a slightly odd one today, but to eighteenth-century audiences it was standard fare. Star singers were wont to roll up to a production with ‘suitcase-arias’ which they’d sung to great acclaim elsewhere, but because one libretto was often set by multiple composers this was only rarely problematic. (The ‘moveable feast’ idea was also helped by the fact that the conventions of the genre also meant that stock emotional states tended to be depicted through a fairly limited bank of metaphors: it’s possible to slot an aria about a ship caught in a tempest into pretty much any baroque opera you care to name!)

The (appropriately, Greek!) musical director Markellos Chryssicos has selected arias from right across the libretto’s fifty-year period in the limelight, ranging from Caldara’s original (just one number crops up – Aristea’s Grandi, e ver) to Paisiello’s Tu di saper procuro, dating from 1786. The finished article is a pleasing hotchpotch of high baroque, Rococo and early-Classical styles, and whilst the arias aren’t arranged chronologically I didn’t feel that any of the stylistic transitions were jarring. I have to say that that complete absence of connecting recitative did jar for me ever so slightly (we don’t get to hear most of the key narrative revelations themselves, but instead cut straight to the characters’ reactions), but I’m sure many others will regard this as a distinct positive!

Most of the arias made me want to investigate the complete settings further, and it’s good to make the acquaintance of some relatively obscure figures (Davide Perez, anyone?), but for me the laurels go to Hasse, whose contributions include Megacle’s bravura opening number and Siam nave oligente (the obligatory ‘storm-tossed ship’ moment) with a gloriously manic bassoon obbligato!

Romina Basso’s robust, flexible mezzo is made for this repertoire (along with two of her colleagues here, she’s already recorded Galuppi’s setting in its entirety, though in a different role), and tonally she’s a great foil for Franziska Gottwald as her friend/rival Licida – I’d not come across this singer before, but her pleasantly brittle timbre reminded me of the young Magdalena Kozena. Nicholas Phan, another relative newcomer, sounds incredibly youthful as the doddery old king but his distinctive, never-less-than-beautiful sound left me craving a full-length disc of arias. Fingers crossed for that, and for complete recordings of the finest settings – starting, ideally, with the Hasse.

There are sound samples and a short video on the website (although the latter has to come with a health warning as the sound quality and balance on the video in no way represents the quality of the recording, which is excellent throughout!).

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L'Olimpiade: The Opera

Romina Basso (Megacle), Franziska Gottwald (Licida), Karina Gauvin (Argene), Nicholas Phan (Clistene), Ruth Rosique (Aristea), Nicholas Spanos (Aminta), Venice Baroque Orchestra, Markellos Chryssicos

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Katherine Cooper - katherine@prestoclassical.co.uk

New Releases

23rd July 2012

This is just the pick of the recent releases. The New Releases and Future Releases pages are always available for browsing all the new and forthcoming releases.

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-10 (Complete)

Midori Seiler (violin) & Jos van Immerseel (piano)

After a recording of the great Mozart violin sonatas awarded a Diapason d’Or some years ago, Midori Seiler and Jos van Immerseel now present the complete Beethoven sonatas, with their dialogue between two instruments now on an equal footing, in which the partners have roles of the same importance.

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Victoria: Officium Defunctorum

Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe

Tomás Luis de Victoria is definitely one of the most important composers in the music history of Spain. His masterpiece is the ‘Officium Defunctorum’, published in Madrid in 1605. In this requiem – written for the funeral of Maria of Austria, daughter of Emperor Charles V – the composer reached a mystical intensity of expression.

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Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 in C minor

Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden

Jaap van Zweden, whose international reputation has burgeoned in recent years, has conducted numerous recordings including the complete Beethoven and Brahms symphonies. He is now midway through recording all the Bruckner symphonies with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra for Exton and Challenge Classics, with Symphonies Nos. 2, 4, 5, 7 and 9 already issued to great critical acclaim. This latest release features the massive Eighth Symphony which was the last that the composer completed.

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Schieferdecker: Geistliche Konzerte

Jan Kobow (tenor), Klaus Mertens (bass), Hamburger Ratsmusik, Jan Eckert

Schieferdecker was a successor of Buxtehude in the Church of St. Mary in Lübeck. He continued the vision of ‘Opera in the Church’ but many of his works were lost. The cantatas featured here show how impressively he developed Buxtehude’s ideas.

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Willaert: Vespro Della Beata Vergine

Joris Verdin (Organ Bologna, Basilica di San-Petronio), Capilla Flamenca, Dirk Snellings

This year we celebrate the 450th anniversary of the death of the Flemish composer Adriaen Willaert, who had been maestro di cappella of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice long before Monteverdi occupied the post. Willaert was also the inventor of the Venetian polychoral technique, with choral groups placed in the various galleries of the church.

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MacMillan Series Volume 1: Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

Gordan Nikolić (violin), Colin Currie (percussion), Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, James MacMillan

The world premiere recording of James MacMillan’s violin concerto A Deep But Dazzling Darkness, played by Gordan Nikolić, opens the first disc in a new Challenge Classic series in which the composer conducts the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic. It is heard alongside one of MacMillan’s most popular works, the remarkable concerto Veni, Veni, Emmanuel and Í (A Meditation on Iona) for strings and percussion, both performed by fellow Scot Colin Currie as percussion soloist.

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Louis Spohr: The Forgotten Master

Paul Meyer (conductor & clarinet), Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne

We are only just beginning to rediscover the works of Louis Spohr (1784-1859), who was not only a composer, but also a virtuoso violinist, possibly the greatest conductor of his time, and a renowned teacher – a man who played a leading role in musical life in Germany in the nineteenth century. His works – almost three hundred, covering many genres – bear the mark of Viennese Classicism, but his harmonic research announces the advent of the Romantic period.

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Death in Venice: The Opera By Benjamin Britten

Directed and edited by Tony Palmer

Tony Palmer’s film of Benjamin Britten’s opera Death in Venice, shot on location, is released on DVD for the first time on the director’s own label. Based on Thomas Mann’s masterly novella – also the source for Visconti’s famous movie – it follows the last days of a writer, disillusioned, in despair and nearing death, in disease-ridden Venice.

The cast includes Robert Gard as Gustav von Aschenbach, John Shirley-Quirk as The Traveller, James Bowman as The Voice of Apollo, Vincent Redman as Tadzio, the object of Aschenbach’s infatuation, and Deanne Bergsma as Tadzio’s Mother. Steuart Bedford conducts the English Chamber Orchestra, and Peter Pears makes a special appearance.

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14-Nov-2011 -Bruckner and Mahler from Haitink and Pappano
07-Nov-2011 -Haydn from the Takács Quartet
31-Oct-2011 -Sublime Schubert from Paul Lewis
24-Oct-2011 -Franz Liszt
17-Oct-2011 -The Decca Sound
10-Oct-2011 -Pavel Haas Quartet the big winners at the Gramophone Awards
03-Oct-2011 -Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts from Paul McCreesh
26-Sep-2011 -Handel – Agrippina & Germanico
19-Sep-2011 -Wagner’s Flying Dutchman starts PentaTone’s 10th anniversary celebrations
12-Sep-2011 -Schubert's Schwanengesang from Padmore and Lewis
05-Sep-2011 -Gergiev and the LSO conclude their Mahler cycle
29-Aug-2011 -BIS - Maxim Rysanov, Sibelius and a special offer
22-Aug-2011 -Sublime Ravel from Ibragimova and Tiberghien
15-Aug-2011 -Gustavo Dudamel
08-Aug-2011 -Brahms/Schoenberg from Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker
01-Aug-2011 -Lucia from the Mariinsky
25-Jul-2011 -Bayreuther Festspiele
18-Jul-2011 -Benjamin Grosvenor
11-Jul-2011 -Rossini’s William Tell
04-Jul-2011 -Bach Motets from Herreweghe
27-Jun-2011 -Sublime Vivaldi from Nathalie Stutzmann
20-Jun-2011 -Beethoven’s Fidelio from Abbado and Kaufmann
13-Jun-2011 -Byrd’s Complete Consort Music
06-Jun-2011 -Vaughan Williams’s The Garden of Proserpine
30-May-2011 -Beethoven's Diabelli Variations from Paul Lewis
23-May-2011 -New DVDs from Glyndebourne
16-May-2011 -Martha Argerich
09-May-2011 -Handel's Ariodante
02-May-2011 -Daniel Barenboim plays Chopin and conducts Tchaikovsky
25-Apr-2011 -Fliter and Ibragimova excel in Beethoven
18-Apr-2011 -Julia Lezhneva sings Rossini
11-Apr-2011 -Lully’s Bellérophon
04-Apr-2011 -Mining the archives
28-Mar-2011 -Rachmaninov's Second Symphony
21-Mar-2011 -Suk's Asrael Symphony
14-Mar-2011 -Pergolesi's Stabat Mater
07-Mar-2011 -Striggio: Mass in 40 Parts
28-Feb-2011 -Tomás Luis de Victoria
21-Feb-2011 -Lisa Batiashvili - Echoes of Time
14-Feb-2011 -Kate Royal: A Lesson in Love
07-Feb-2011 -Simon Rattle's new Mahler 2
31-Jan-2011 -Percy Grainger
24-Jan-2011 -Arne: Artaxerxes
17-Jan-2011 -Handel and Strauss from Dessay and Damrau
10-Jan-2011 -Nielsen Symphonies from Colin Davis and the LSO
03-Jan-2011 -The Genius of Mozart
27-Dec-2010 -The year ahead
20-Dec-2010 -Sheet Music now online, and other recent developments
13-Dec-2010 -Robert Schumann
06-Dec-2010 -Vivaldi Operas - Ottone in Villa and Ercole
29-Nov-2010 -Christmas Releases
22-Nov-2010 -Bach Cantatas - the Gardiner pilgrimage
15-Nov-2010 -Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
08-Nov-2010 -Schubert: Piano Duets
01-Nov-2010 -Verdi's Otello from the LSO and Colin Davis
25-Oct-2010 -The Three Baroque Tenors
18-Oct-2010 -Dame Joan Sutherland
11-Oct-2010 -Bach's Violin Concertos from Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque
04-Oct-2010 -Gramophone Awards announced last Friday
27-Sep-2010 -Jonas Kaufmann: Verismo Arias
20-Sep-2010 -Wagner's Parsifal from the Mariinsky and Gergiev
13-Sep-2010 -Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte from René Jacobs
06-Sep-2010 -Puccini's forgotten masterpiece - La Rondine
30-Aug-2010 -Santiago a cappella
23-Aug-2010 -Elīna Garanča goes Spanish
16-Aug-2010 -Rued Langgaard - Music of the Spheres
09-Aug-2010 -Gramophone Awards - The Finalists
02-Aug-2010 -50 Years of the Grosses Festspielhaus Salzburg
26-Jul-2010 -Gustav Mahler
19-Jul-2010 -Sir Charles Mackerras
12-Jul-2010 -Beethoven - Paul Lewis and the BBC Proms
05-Jul-2010 -A Russian Sibelius cycle
28-Jun-2010 -Ronald Brautigam's Beethoven
21-Jun-2010 -Carlos Kleiber
14-Jun-2010 -Handel's Berenice
07-Jun-2010 -Channel Classics
31-May-2010 -Alfredo Casella
24-May-2010 -Shostakovich Preludes & Fugues from Melnikov
17-May-2010 -The multi-talented Julia Fischer
10-May-2010 -Nimbus
03-May-2010 -Leonard Bernstein's Omnibus Broadcasts
26-Apr-2010 -Frédéric Chopin
19-Apr-2010 -Wagner Lohengrin - BBC Awards
12-Apr-2010 -Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique
05-Apr-2010 -Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia and Joyce DiDonato
29-Mar-2010 -Romantic Piano Concertos
22-Mar-2010 -Robin Ticciati and Brahms' Choral Works
15-Mar-2010 -Mozart Symphonies from Mackerras - Volume 2
08-Mar-2010 -Bernard Coutaz and Harmonia Mundi
01-Mar-2010 -Thomas Adès
22-Feb-2010 -Strauss: Alpine Symphony
15-Feb-2010 -Handel: Giulio Cesare and the Brockes Passion
08-Feb-2010 -Debussy and the Prix de Rome
01-Feb-2010 -Testament
25-Jan-2010 -BBC Music Magazine Awards Shortlist
18-Jan-2010 -Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet
11-Jan-2010 -Bach for Violin and Voice
04-Jan-2010 -A Ring cycle for the 21st Century
28-Dec-2009 -Anniversaries - 2009 and 2010
21-Dec-2009 -Richard Farrell
14-Dec-2009 -Thomas Tallis's Secret Garden
07-Dec-2009 -El Sistema
30-Nov-2009 -Christmas Releases
23-Nov-2009 -Kirsten Flagstad
16-Nov-2009 -Nikolaus Harnoncourt
09-Nov-2009 -Two important Elgar rarities
02-Nov-2009 -Felix Mendelssohn
26-Oct-2009 -Cecilia Bartoli and the world of Castratos
19-Oct-2009 -Winterreise from Padmore and Lewis
12-Oct-2009 -Tchaikovsky's Moscow Cantata
05-Oct-2009 -The Quatuor Ebène and the Gramophone Awards
28-Sep-2009 -Unknown Britten
21-Sep-2009 -Australian Eloquence
14-Sep-2009 -Julia Fischer plays Schubert
07-Sep-2009 -Bach Cantata bargain of the year
31-Aug-2009 -Rattle conducts Brahms
24-Aug-2009 -Bruckner from the Concertgebouw
17-Aug-2009 -Gramophone Awards 2009 - Finalists
10-Aug-2009 -Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
03-Aug-2009 -The Vivaldi Edition
27-Jul-2009 -Diaghilev and The Ballets Russes
20-Jul-2009 -Sir Edward Downes
13-Jul-2009 -Brilliant Classics
06-Jul-2009 -Tomás Luis de Victoria
29-Jun-2009 -Britten's homage to Purcell
22-Jun-2009 -The Three Tenors
15-Jun-2009 -Penguin Rosettes and Building a Library
08-Jun-2009 -Masterclasses
01-Jun-2009 -Gergiev at the Mariinsky
25-May-2009 -Two recent re-discoveries light up Martinu year
18-May-2009 -Idomeneo from René Jacobs
11-May-2009 -A&R and Kate Royal's Midsummer Night
04-May-2009 -Chandos Records - 30 years young
27-Apr-2009 -Rachmaninov Preludes
20-Apr-2009 -20 Years of NMC
13-Apr-2009 -BBC Music Magazine Awards
06-Apr-2009 -Shostakovich 11 from the RLPO
30-Mar-2009 -BIS and the Sibelius Edition
23-Mar-2009 -Haydn - 'The Father of the Symphony'
16-Mar-2009 -George Frederic Handel
09-Mar-2009 -Bach's Brandenburg Concertos
02-Mar-2009 -Angela Gheorghiu in Puccini's Madama Butterfly
23-Feb-2009 -The world's most celebrated violins
16-Feb-2009 -Copyright to be extended
09-Feb-2009 -A feast of Early Music
02-Feb-2009 -Sarah Connolly gets Purcell year off to a flier
26-Jan-2009 -Monteverdi as you've never heard it before!
19-Jan-2009 -Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin put Platti firmly on the map
12-Jan-2009 -Hamelin proves his real class with Chopin
05-Jan-2009 -Lindsays lead the bargains
29-Dec-2008 -Jerusalem - in search of peace
22-Dec-2008 -Looking ahead - Handel, Haydn and more
15-Dec-2008 -2008 - A great year for DVDs
08-Dec-2008 -Top new Christmas recommendations
01-Dec-2008 -Richard Hickox
24-Nov-2008 -The World's Great Orchestras, and Euros and US Dollars now accepted
17-Nov-2008 -Lost manuscripts continue to be found
10-Nov-2008 -Haydn's String Quartets
03-Nov-2008 -Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony
27-Oct-2008 -Contemporary Music
20-Oct-2008 -Sir Peter Moores
13-Oct-2008 -Vivaldi in a new light
06-Oct-2008 -Americans in Pyongyang
29-Sep-2008 -Paul Lewis and the Gramophone Awards 2008
22-Sep-2008 -Songs her mother taught her
15-Sep-2008 -Vernon Handley
08-Sep-2008 -Zig Zag and the Atrium Quartet
01-Sep-2008 -Gramophone Awards nominations
25-Aug-2008 -Beautiful Messiah and Exquisite Morales
18-Aug-2008 -Great Pianists of the Past
11-Aug-2008 -Classical Television Broadcasts on the Internet
04-Aug-2008 -Chloë Hanslip and the unfamiliar
28-Jul-2008 -Leopold Godowsky and the virtuoso pianist
21-Jul-2008 -Linn Records
14-Jul-2008 -Vaughan Williams
07-Jul-2008 -Olivier Messiaen
30-Jun-2008 -Reginald Goodall's revelatory 'Mastersingers'
23-Jun-2008 -The French Baroque - 200 Years of Versailles
16-Jun-2008 -Bach Fugues from Onyx and the Emersons
09-Jun-2008 -New DVD page and Special Offer
02-Jun-2008 -Time to re-evaluate Miaskovsky
26-May-2008 -Superb Scholl sings Dowland and his circle
19-May-2008 -Fiesta! - Dudamel and the Venezuelans
12-May-2008 -The Guarneri Piano Trio and the label Praga
05-May-2008 -A La Bohème for all
28-Apr-2008 -Beethoven and Period Instruments
21-Apr-2008 -The Jerusalem Quartet
14-Apr-2008 -Nigel Kennedy
07-Apr-2008 -Paul Lewis's Beethoven
31-Mar-2008 -Ingrid Fliter
24-Mar-2008 -Mel Bonis
17-Mar-2008 -Stunning new Haydn Creation from Paul McCreesh
10-Mar-2008 -Hilary Hahn plays Schoenberg and Sibelius
03-Mar-2008 -Rattle and Gergiev on Mahler
25-Feb-2008 -Handel Organ Concertos
18-Feb-2008 -Late Mozart Symphonies
11-Feb-2008 -Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project
04-Feb-2008 -Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel
28-Jan-2008 -Undeservedly neglected music - John Marsh and Juan de Araujo
21-Jan-2008 -New Bach Cantatas page
14-Jan-2008 -Composers' Own Recordings
07-Jan-2008 -Francis Xavier and Jordi Savall
31-Dec-2007 -50 Years of Harmonia Mundi
24-Dec-2007 -Last thoughts on 2007, first on 2008
17-Dec-2007 -Discs of the Year
10-Dec-2007 -Stockhausen
03-Dec-2007 -25 Years of the Compact Disc
26-Nov-2007 -Pacini and the importance of first performances
19-Nov-2007 -Christmas music worth hearing
12-Nov-2007 -The forgotten Maria
05-Nov-2007 -Why composers marked repeats
29-Oct-2007 -Bach B minor Mass from Suzuki
22-Oct-2007 -New Mahler 8 from Pierre Boulez
15-Oct-2007 -Lucerne Festival Orchestra
08-Oct-2007 -Julia Fischer and the Gramophone Awards
01-Oct-2007 -Mozart - Don Giovanni from René Jacobs
24-Sep-2007 -Natalie Clein and the Elgar Cello Concerto
17-Sep-2007 -Joshua Bell
10-Sep-2007 -Luciano Pavarotti
03-Sep-2007 -Kate Royal
27-Aug-2007 -Gramophone Awards - finalists revealed
20-Aug-2007 -Exciting new baroque rediscovery - Conti's David
13-Aug-2007 -Venezuelan Youth Orchestra the envy of the world
06-Aug-2007 -Music's Best-kept Secrets
30-Jul-2007 -Haydn - the most underrated great composer
23-Jul-2007 -Beethoven Piano Sonatas
16-Jul-2007 -BBC Proms 2007
09-Jul-2007 -Elin Manahan Thomas
02-Jul-2007 -Open minds and superb Bernarda Fink
25-Jun-2007 -Excited by another batch of re-issues?
18-Jun-2007 -Composer Works lists now published
11-Jun-2007 -Padmore and Bostridge sing Handel
04-Jun-2007 -Elgar's Enigma Variations
28-May-2007 -Still suffering some seventy years on?
21-May-2007 -Buying Opera on CD or DVD
14-May-2007 -Debussy's new champion
07-May-2007 -Schütz's Legacy
30-Apr-2007 -Mstislav Rostropovich
23-Apr-2007 -Missed Opportunities
16-Apr-2007 -BBC Music Magazine Awards
09-Apr-2007 -The way we listen
02-Apr-2007 -Too much Mozart?
26-Mar-2007 -Harpsichord or Piano?
19-Mar-2007 -Strauss's Four Last Songs
12-Mar-2007 -The importance of government support
05-Mar-2007 -Do today's musicians all sound the same?

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