Presto News - 24th December 2012
Looking ahead to 2013 - Verdi, Britten and Wagner
2013 is chock-full of significant musical anniversaries: we’ll see the eightieth birthdays of Montserrat Caballé, Claudio Abbado and Dame Janet Baker, and milestones for Corelli, Dowland, Byrd, Poulenc and Górecki. But the three landmarks which will surely dominate are the bicentenaries of Verdi and Wagner and the centenary of Benjamin Britten: in record-industry terms, the celebrations kick off right from the beginning of the year, with new releases and commemorative sets for all three due out in January and February. Santa has already brought us a sackful of advance-copies, so before I head off for the Christmas break I’ll give you a brief foretaste…
There are several bumper Verdi boxes in the offing (both CD and DVD/Blu-ray) but one of the best has to be EMI’s 35-disc set of sixteen operas, including all the favourites and quite a few rarities. For me, the lovely thing about this set is the mixture of vintages: the recordings range from the great 1955 Rigoletto with Callas and Gobbi to a 2001 Trovatore from Antonio Pappano with Gheorghiu and Alagna. Completists will have to wait until February though, which brings a 75-CD set of landmark recordings on Decca…
EMI and Ian Bostridge will be celebrating Britten with several projects, the first of which is an absolutely riveting account of The Rape of Lucretia (recorded at Aldeburgh last year). Bostridge is spellbinding from the very first bars in the Evangelist-like role of the Male Chorus, wringing every drop of terror and beauty from his narrative: in fact what makes this recording so special is the balance it strikes between the brutal and the lyrical elements of Britten’s score. Peter Coleman-Wright portrays Tarquinius as a psychotic thug rather than a dissolute playboy, and Angelika Kirchschlager sings a passionate and distinctly unmatronly Lucretia.
Finally, as we were going to press Jonas Kaufmann’s new Wagner disc arrived on my desk. Just when you think you’ve got the measure of this singer, he hits new heights of interpretative insight, vocal drama and sheer horse-power (that second, searing ‘Wälse!’ in the Walküre scene quite literally knocked me backwards!). He revisits several roles he’s performed and recorded in full and offers tantalising glimpses of what may be to come: there’s a seething, conflicted Tannhäuser and a robust but vulnerable Siegfried, as well a brooding account of the Wesendonck-Lieder (rarely the province of male singers). I’ll eat my Tarnhelm if this doesn’t win a slew of awards next year!
Finally, a few quick notices... Firstly, a reminder that our big Box Sets - Up to 40% off Special Offer ends on Wednesday. This is our biggest and best selling promotion of the year, so well worth taking a final look if you haven’t already. We’ve highlighted some of the best selling (and perhaps most interesting) recent releases in the section below and you can of course browse everything in the offer here.
Secondly, if you’re stuck for a last minute Christmas gift then our Gift Vouchers can be ordered any time of day or night (including Christmas day) and are delivered (by email) within seconds – to anywhere in the world! See here for full details.
It only remains to wish you a very Merry Christmas from everyone here at Presto Classical.
Verdi: The Great Operas
16 of Verdi’s operatic masterpieces, ranging from his first real success, Nabucco, to his last, Falstaff, and includes such stalwarts of the repertoire as Aida, La Traviata and Rigoletto.
Britten: The Rape of Lucretia
Angelika Kirchschlager (Lucretia), Peter Coleman-Wright (Tarquinius), Ian Bostridge (Male Chorus), Susan Gritton (Female Chorus), Christopher Purves (Collatinus), Benjamin Russell (Junius), Claire Booth (Lucia), Hilary Summers (Bianca), Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble, Oliver Knussen
Jonas Kaufmann (tenor), Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin, Donald Runnicles
Katherine Cooper - email@example.com
Recent Box Set Best Sellers
No new releases this week, so I thought you might be interested in some of our recently released best sellers from the big Box Sets Special Offer that is ending this Wednesday.
Mahler: Symphonies 1-9 (complete)
London Symphony Orchestra, Choir of Eltham College, Choral Arts Society of Washington, Tiffin Boys Choir & London Symphony Chorus, Valery Gergiev
Valery Gergiev’s performances and recordings of Mahler’s symphonies with the LSO have garnered international acclaim. They have performed the works in Europe, North America and the Far East and their recordings have received numerous awards. The symphonies were originally released between 2008 and 2011 and have now been made available together for the first time as a beautifully packaged 10 SACD box set.
Wagner: The Complete Operas
The year 2013, when we celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth, is inevitably going to be devoted to the man and his work. In recognition of this anniversary, DG are have released arguably the classiest box on the market. Every opera that Wagner wrote - The best of DG, two operas each from Decca and the BBC, and EMI’s Rienzi.
The Other Wagner: Symphonic Vocal and Piano Music
Wagner is, of course, best known for his operas, but he actually wrote music in an unexpectedly wide variety of genres. Encompassing orchestral works, overtures, marches, songs, choral works and piano music, this collection complements Wagner’s great operas, providing fascinating insights into the composer’s emerging style and musical techniques. It also showcases some rousing, moving and powerful music that is well worth discovering.
Philips Original Jackets Collection
Philips Classics is known for great artists, great music, a tremendous Chamber Music catalogue of recordings, and a great pioneering spirit. This collection is exclusive, unique, and unprecedented. It celebrates not only the Philips label, but the recordings that changed classical recorded music.
The set (near complete) presents the 3 symphonies, the complete chamber music, songs, the complete piano music and the famous opera Prince Igor.
Mostly Russian performers: the Moscow Trio, soprano Marianna Tarassova and the great Nikolai Ghiaurov in Prince Igor.
Leopold Stokowski: The Columbia Stereo Recordings
The Columbia Stereo Recordings includes two recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra: Falla’s El amor brujo and one of his celebrated “Symphonic Synthesis” of music from Wagner’s operas. Also included are three of his famous Bach Transcriptions, Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with Glenn Gould on piano and Ives’ Fourth Symphony that Stokowski pronounced “one of the most difficult works I have ever conducted.” Rounding out this impressive set are the Maestro’s final recording sessions devoted to two of the most youthful symphonies ever written, Mendelssohn’s Fourth and Bizet’s Symphony in C. The Bizet finale was taped in one complete take and was used, with no editing, as the finished recording. Since it was the very last time Stokowski conducted, it has considerable historic significance.
Sir Adrian Boult: From Bach to Wagner
“a fine collection of his late, ripe performances of mainstream classics, mostly with the LPO in the 1970s. A fascinating picture emerges of performance styles in transition: from Bach's Brandenburgs with jolly recorders to Wagner extracts full of fire and energy...but the pearl is Boult's unbeatably powerful and perfectly paced Schubert Ninth, thrilling and full-bodied.” The Observer, October 2012
Poulenc: Oeuvres complètes (Complete works)
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of his death in 2013, EMI Classics has released a set of Francis Poulenc complete works in 20 CDs. An extensive 148-page booklet including English and French liner notes describing each individual work, tributes by Denise Duval and Gabriel Tacchino, and a rich iconography will make this release even more unique.
Schubert: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (Complete)
Les Musiciens du Louvre (on period instruments), Marc Minkowski
Following the extremely successful recording of Haydn complete London Symphonies released in 2010, Marc Minkowski, Naïve and the Wiener Konzerthaus set up a new project, even more ambitious although similar in form: to perform for the Viennese audience and record the complete symphonies of Schubert in the same week, in March 2012. And here are the spectacular results!
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