Presto News - 11th November 2016
Matthias Goerne sings Wotan in Wagner's Die Walküre
I have to say eyebrows were raised chez Presto when we first heard that Naxos were embarking on a Ring Cycle – the budget label doesn’t usually take on projects on this sort of scale, but we were all pleasantly surprised by last year’s Rheingold and with Die Walküre (out today) the cycle really hits its stride. Right from the taut, suppressed energy of the stormy prelude, Jaap van Zweden draws playing of immense subtlety and detail from his Hong Kong forces, who are so consistently engaged with the drama I’d have sworn we were listening to a staged production rather than a concert performance.
Matthias Goerne, taking on the mammoth role of Wotan for the first time in this project, shows no sign of the respiratory infection which was reported during the live performances (whether this is down to ‘patching’ sessions or simple astute vocal management is anyone’s guess). I’d wondered if Goerne, still relatively new to Wagner in general, might sound over-parted here, but the voice sounds well-grounded at both ends and he has plenty left in the tank for his coruscating chastisement of Brünnhilde and subsequent expansive Farewell; I’d wager he’ll find more light and shade in the role if he chooses to keep it in his repertoire over the next decade or so, but his sensitivity to text and capacity for introspective brooding already pays real dividends in the great monologue in Act Two.
For me, though, it’s the Wälsung twins who pretty much steal the show: Stuart Skelton and Heidi Melton deliver a first act of exquisite radiance and tenderness, with the emphasis on the loneliness and vulnerability of the estranged siblings rather than explosive sexual chemistry. (They’re fully supported in this interpretation by van Zweden, who gives the love-music acres of space to blossom and brings the act to a transcendent rather than frenzied conclusion, in contrast to Valery Gergiev’s hell-for-leather eroticism on his 2013 Mariinsky recording). It’s above all a very human first act, eschewing the heroics and melodrama that are played up on other recordings: for instance, the pointed phrasing of the Wagner tubas announces Hunding as a man of quiet menace rather than a pantomime villain, and indeed he comes across as a fundamentally decent man (albeit not one to mess with) rather than a brutish bully in Falk Struckmann’s interpretation. And just as van Zweden has no truck with one-dimensional baddies, nor is he interested in vocal swashbuckling for its own sake: Siegmund’s extended cries of 'Wälse!' always make the Presto office collectively down tools (often with an eye on the stop-watch!) when a new recording’s receiving its first outing, and Skelton infuses them with more pathos and desperation than any singer I’ve heard on disc.
Melton’s bright, youthful-sounding soprano works beautifully with his oaky, now almost baritonal timbre (his voice seems to have developed more autumnal colours since the sensational performances of Peter Grimes in London a couple of years ago), and she’s particularly welcome on a recording where darker female voices dominate: Brünnhilde is sung here by former mezzo Petra Lang, and though she now focuses almost exclusively on dramatic soprano roles, her ‘warrior-maid’ still sounds almost contralto-ish in places (no bad thing in the low-lying passages of the role, such as her appearance to Siegmund before the battle and the opening of her great confrontation with her father in the final scene of Act Three) and not dissimilar to Michelle deYoung’s imperious and imposingly-sung Fricka.
Another asset is the well-differentiated team of Valkyries (you really hear each individual jolt of anxiety as they wait for their father to impose the most extreme ‘grounding’ ever dealt out to a rebellious daughter), with a stand-out contribution from British soprano Katherine Broderick, who will appear as Sieglinde opposite Melton’s first Brünnhilde later this year. One to watch, as is this cycle in general: roll on the next two instalments…
Wagner: Die Walküre
Matthias Goerne (Wotan), Petra Lang (Brünnhilde), Michelle DeYoung (Fricka), Stuart Skelton (Siegmund), Heidi Melton (Sieglinde), Falk Struckmann (Hunding), Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden
Presto Interview – Graham Ross on 'Remembrance'
David talks to Graham Ross, musical director of the choir of Clare College, Cambridge, about his new disc of Remembrance-themed choral works. Alongside the popular Requiem of Maurice Duruflé are smaller-scale works from a wide range of musical periods, with a common theme of remembrance and loss.
Gramophone Editor's Choices – November 2016
This month sees keyboardists and singers take centre stage - Murray Perahia, Kristian Bezuidenhout and Justin Taylor all perform Baroque and Classical keyboard works (and a pair of French piano trios makes the list as well), while the choirs of Christ Church and Truro Cathedrals both feature, as do Vox Luminis and mezzo Joyce DiDonato.
Katherine Cooper - firstname.lastname@example.org
11th November 2016
New on Naxos - November releases
Our dedicated Naxos New Release Brochure returns this week, where you can browse, read about, and listen to excerpts of all the exciting new Naxos releases out this month.
Highlights include world premiere recordings of works by Vaughan Williams and James Whitbourn, and Christmas music for brass perfomed by Septura. (The 'Buy Now' links will bring you back to the recording on the Presto Classical website.) Find out more...
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1 'Winter Dreams' & The Tempest
Orchestra Of St. Luke's, Pablo Heras-Casado
Pablo Heras-Casado has served as Principal Conductor of Orchestra of St. Luke’s since 2011. This is their debut album for Harmonia Mundi, featuring two of Tchaikovsky's earliest notable works, both of which are dramatic and vibrant: Symphony No. 1 (Winter Dreams), and The Tempest, a sprawling and turbulent seascape.
Ginastera: Orchestral Works Volume Two
BBC Philharmonic, Juanjo Mena
This is the second in Chandos's three-volume exploration of Ginastera’s orchestra works with the BBC Philharmonic. It features a late work, lesser-known, yet rich in surprises, namely the Second Piano Concerto. It is coupled with the exotic early ballet Panambí, heard complete with a concluding contribution from the Manchester Chamber Choir.
CPE Bach: Flute Concerti
Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord & conductor), Kammerakademie Potsdam
Emmanuel Pahud performs music written for ‘The Flute King’ with three concertos by CPE Bach, who spent nearly thirty years on the musical staff at the court of Frederick the Great, a powerful monarch and a highly accomplished flautist. Pahud, principal flautist of the Berlin Philharmonic, is joined by Kammerakademie Potsdam, directed from the harpsichord by Trevor Pinnock.
MacMillan: Violin Concerto & Symphony No. 4
Vadim Repin (violin), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Donald Runnicles
Two major works from James Macmillan make their CD debut; the Violin Concerto is performed on this disc by its dedicatee Vadim Repin. The Fourth Symphony is dedicated to Donald Runnicles and was written to celebrate his sixtieth birthday: this recording was made at the2015 BBC Proms and was the world premiere performance.
Daniel Barenboim: On My New Piano
Daniel Barenboim (piano)
Struck by the vital differences in sound of an instrument constructed with straight, parallel strings rather than the diagonal crossed ones of a contemporary instrument, Daniel Barenboim has developed a new concert grand in collaboration with instrument maker Chris Maene. He has here selected works by four keyboard masters to display his new piano’s timbral and tonal capabilities.
Pergolesi: Adriano in Siria
Franco Fagioli (Farnaspe), Romina Basso (Emirena), Yuriy Mynenko (Adriano), Capella Cracoviensis, Jan Tomasz Adamus
New love, position, power, revenge, disguise, mistaken identity, complications and passionate devotion – the full spectrum of baroque opera seria is here in this new recording of Pergolesi’s Adriano In Siria. Franco Fagioli leads the cast, accompanied by Polish orchestra Capella Cracoviensis under Jan Tomasz Adamus.
The LSO Dvorak Kertesz Recordings (9 CDs + Blu-Ray Audio)
London Symphony Orchestra, Istvan Kertesz
Kertész's recordings from the 1960s with the London Symphony Orchestra of Dvořák's symphonies are widely regarded as definitive interpretations. Decca have returned to the original tapes to present this audiophile edition on two formats: nine traditional CDs and one High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray disc, enabling true 24-bit playback of the entire audio contents at the highest-possible audio quality.
Otto Klemperer's Long Journey Through His Times (2 DVDs & 2 CDs)
Two films by Philo Bregstein
Otto Klemperer was one of the most important conductors of the 20th century. In Philo Bregstein’s film Otto Klemperer's Long Journey Through His Times – restored, re-edited and available again after 20 years – you can follow Klemperer’s journey from Germany to the USA, back to Hungary and lastly to London. Klemperer: The Last Concert shows exclusive material of rehearsals and the “last” concert on September 26, 1971. This edition also includes audio recordings of the concert on 2 CDs.
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