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Opera in English

Opera, performed in English

Chandos Opera in English is produced in association with the Peter Moores Foundation and aims to make opera available to a wider audience by presenting the performances in English.

The series, which was launched in 1995 with The Barber of Seville, is to include many of the most popular operas in the repertoire. The Barber, which was very well received, has Bruce Ford as the Count, Della Jones as Rosina and Alan Opie as Figaro. Tosca was released in 1996 and stars Jane Eaglen as Tosca, Dennis O'Neill as Cavaradossi and Gregory Yurisich as Scarpia. All future recordings of Opera in English will appear on this label with a CHAN3000 numbering sequence.

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Verdi: Macbeth

Verdi: Macbeth

sung in English


Latonia Moore (Lady Macbeth), Simon Keenlyside (Macbeth), Gwyn Hughes Jones (Macduff), Brindley Sherratt (Banquo), Ben Johnson (Malcolm), Elizabeth Llewellyn (Lady in Waiting)

English National Opera Orchestra, Edward Gardner

This recording of Verdi's Macbeth marks the completion of the Peter Moores Foundation's remarkable Opera in English series, established in 1995 with the aim of making opera available to wider audiences by presenting the highest quality opera performances in English. Here a translation by Jeremy Sams is sung by an all-star cast including Simon Keenlyside as Macbeth and Latonia Moore as Lady Macbeth. Edward Gardner conducts the English National Opera Orchestra.

Macbeth is the first of three Verdi operas based on dramas by William Shakespeare. Described by Verdi as ‘one of the greatest creations of man’, Macbeth’s ‘grandeur, breadth, and sublime, rarefied, and strange atmosphere’ inspired Verdi to adapt this tale of power, corruption, and devilry. Having previously concentrated on historical narratives, in Macbeth Verdi engaged in dark supernatural themes for the first time. The subject matter provided Verdi opportunity to expand on his abilities as a tone poet; he extended the contribution of the orchestra to the drama and introduced orchestral detail and colour not before seen in his operatic scores.

In 1865, eighteen years after its triumphant premiere in Florence, Verdi was asked to revisit the score for a Paris revival. This revised version forms the basis of the present recording which also includes additions from the original score.

“Even if [Moore's vocalism is brave and bold, at times Latonia Moore's Lady Macbeth could do with sharper definition and more sheer heft...Keenlyside explores the title role in depth, offering a huge variety of expression and fulfilling the potential of Verdi's notes to reveal minute nuances of character...[Gardner] brings a keenly observant eye to the score.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2014 ****

“Gardner’s recording has a crispness and vitality that underline his Verdian credentials...and the cohesiveness of his ensemble. Keenlyside may not sound like a Verdi baritone, but on his own intelligent terms the interpretation works. Moore’s Lady M is fresh, accurate – and almost too beautiful for the famous Sleepwalking Scene.” Financial Times, 7th June 2014 ****

“Gardner draws vibrantly dramatic results from his English National Opera forces...[Moore] is apparently unfazed by the role's difficulties and soars through her big numbers with plenty of luxurious, slightly smoky tone...[Keenlyside] doesn't command the richness of timbre...of a true Verdi baritone...[but] the performance cannot be faulted for integrity.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2014

“[Keenlyside's] baritone has gained darker colours, even if he does not sound ideally placed in Verdi, yet he brings great characterization and clarity of diction to the role...[Moore] sings beautifully...but doesn't exactly impart a sense of evil or danger...The supporting cast is excellent...Gardner leads the English National Opera Orchestra in a crackling account of the score.” International Record Review, May 2014

“a sharply energised and vividly dramatised performance...[Keenlyside] gives a commanding interpretation of a soldier driven by a combination of ambition and conscience...Latonia Moore sings powerfully as Lady Macbeth...But the set’s most egregious virtue is the conducting of Edward Gardner, swaggering with Verdian virility.” The Telegraph, 24th April 2014

“[Keenlyside] presents a changing psychological portrait of the lure of power and evil in the title role. At first he sounds conflicted, uncertain. But one murder hardens him and Keenlyside’s tone expands alongside Macbeth’s resolve. No uncertainties dog Lady Macbeth in Latonia Moore’s account...The young American’s voice is thrillingly rich and commanding.” The Times, 4th April 2014 ****

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Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3180(2)

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Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin

Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin

Sung in English (translation by David Lloyd-Jones)


Thomas Hampson (Onegin), Kiri Te Kanawa (Tatyana), Neil Rosenshein (Lensky), Patricia Bardon (Olga), John Connell (Gremin), Nicolai Gedda (Triquet)

Chorus of Welsh National Opera, Chorus of Welsh National Opera, Sir Charles Mackerras

“Mackerras conducts a loving, well-contoured reading with what were then his Welsh National forces. Above all, Sir Charles is aware of the sheer beauty of the composer's orchestral writing… The recording is excellent, as are the accompanying notes. If you want the piece in the vernacular this version will give pleasure.” Gramophone Magazine

“The recording is sung in English, which is preferable to the Russian-on-autopilot approach that has marred many versions of the work” The Guardian

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Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3042

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Strauss, R: Intermezzo, Op. 72

Strauss, R: Intermezzo, Op. 72

BBC live broadcast recorded at Glyndebourne, 1974

Sung in English


Elisabeth Söderström (Christine), Marco Bakker (Storch), Richard Allfrey (Frantzl), Elizabeth Gale (Anna), Alexander Oliver (Baron Lummer), Anthony Rolfe Johnson (Stroh), Thomas Lawlor (Der Notar)

Glyndebourne Festival Chorus & London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir John Pritchard

Elisabeth Söderström (1927-2009) stars in this live BBC broadcast of Richard Strauss’s comic and pioneering opera, Intermezzo, recorded at Glyndebourne in 1974. This unique performance is now available on CD for the first time as part of Chandos’ Opera in English historical series.

One of the great sopranos of the twentieth century, Söderström’s performances throughout the world were as famous as her many classic recordings. At Glyndebourne, from where this 1974 performance was recorded by the BBC, she appeared in some 13 festivals over a period of 25 years. Her performances of Richard Strauss were particularly admired. Invited to sing the central role of Christine in the first British performance of Intermezzo, this Swedish-born, multi-lingual artist insisted that it should be sung in English – contrary to the company’s policy at that time. She won the argument, as can be heard on the CD.

Glyndebourne’s George Christie sums up the characteristics of this great artist: ‘She was a consummate singer/actress – a mistress of bathos and an exquisite comedienne. She was beguilingly beautiful. Audiences fell in love with her as did her team-mates on stage – and off-stage. At Glyndebourne she reigned supreme. There was no lack of rivals, but she had an indefinable quality which made her the unquestioned, unchallenged queen.’

Intermezzo was first performed in 1924, and is based on an incident in the often turbulent, but enduring marriage of the composer, Richard Strauss, and his wife, Pauline. Strauss had yearned to write a work in lighter vein than his previous operas – and turned for his material to his marital life with Pauline. The storyline is about a wife who, feeling neglected and upset that her composer/husband is often away, goes off seeking enjoyment elsewhere. The fusion of music and dialogue is remarkable in the way that Strauss welds together lyrical outpourings, sprechgesang, the earthy dialect of servants and the polished language of their employers to draw fine characterisations, all underpinned by a brilliant score that illuminates the action. The opera draws an affectionate yet sharp portrait, employing many devices typically used in comic opera – misunderstandings, confused names, intercepted telegrams, and the like. Nevertheless, Pauline Strauss failed to see the joke (true to character), whilst audiences of the day thought Strauss’s thinly-veiled ‘portrait of a marriage’ in dubious taste. After Strauss’s death the work did gain in popularity, Glyndebourne’s production doing much to stimulate admiration for the opera in Britain.

“Alas, yet hooray all the same, that it has taken the loss of one of opera's loveliest personalities to lure this recording out of the Radio 3 archives...Söderström finally gets to pull out all the long-lined lyric stops in a love-scene with Marco Bakker's underpowered Storch. When Intermezzo is good, it's great, and a true original. I love it very much, and clearly Söderström did too.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2011 ****

“Not until hearing this recording did I realise that this opera is so much more than a comedy. At the end of Act 1 when Christine is convinced the marriage is over, Pritchard's handling of the orchestra shows how deftly the music conveys that gut-wrenching feeling when the most basic fabric of one's life is ripped to pieces.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2011

“In excellent voice, Söderström easily pulls unprepared high pianissimo attacks out of the air and takes any long-lined legato phrase in her stride. Hers is a virtuoso performance, utterly complete in its details yet seemingly spontaneous in every utterance...This is obviously an essential acquisition for all Söderström admirers...but also for all who enjoy the lighter Strauss. .” International Record Review, March 2011

“Elisabeth Söderström was an unforgettable Straussian...it is a delight to have her witty and moving Christine...she is glorious in the lyrical passages.” Sunday Times, 20th February 2011

“Söderström herself is often devastating as the musician's wife whose volatile temper masks a lonely vulnerability. There's also a fine performance from Alexander Oliver as Lummer, the aristocratic extortionist who gradually homes in on her.” The Guardian, 13th January 2011 ****

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Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3174(2)

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Monteverdi: L'incoronazione di Poppea

Monteverdi: L'incoronazione di Poppea

Sung in English


Dame Janet Baker (Poppea), Robert Ferguson (Nerone), Anne Collins (Arnalta), Katherine Pring (Ottavia), Clifford Grant (Seneca) & John Brecknock (Valletto), Elizabeth Gale (Amore), Shirley Chapman (Virtù), Barbara Walker (Drusilla/Fortuna)

Sadler’s Wells Chorus & Sadler’s Wells Orchestra, Raymond Leppard

In November 1971, Dame Janet Baker – a great champion of opera sung in English – performed the title role in Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea with Sadler’s Wells Opera at the London Coliseum, conducted by the baroque and classical specialist Raymond Leppard. This was the first time the company had produced the work and, happily, a performance was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

This release of that broadcast has been remastered. Inevitably, the sound quality reflects the fact that it is a 1971 ‘live’ recording, and some deterioration is evident, although this does not detract from the incomparable performance value.

Chandos Opera in English is delighted to be able to allow listeners to experience the artistry of Dame Janet, at the height of her career, on this latest Archive Edition.

Dame Janet Baker is joined by the bass Clifford Grant, tenors Robert Ferguson and John Brecknock, and mezzo-sopranos Anne Collins and Katherine Pring, as well as the Sadler’s Wells Chorus and Orchestra.

This recording is released on CD only.

“Janet Baker's incredibly sophisticated portrayal of Poppea reveals that the work is as much about power as sex...this recording stands as a powerful and attractive monument to those epoch-making clashes between musicality and musicology that kick-started the early music boom to the benefit of all.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2010 ****

“Leppard's souped-up Monteverdi is richly enjoyable...Baker catches the langour and the selfish ambition of this unpleasant character with subtly varied tone...And the diction! Put down the libretto, listen, and weep for what was.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2010

GGramophone Awards 2011

Finalist - Historic

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Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3172(2)

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Great Operatic Arias 22 - Gerald Finley

Great Operatic Arias 22 - Gerald Finley


Adams, J:

Batter My Heart (from Doctor Atomic)

Bizet:

Votre toast je peux vous le rendre 'Toreador Song' (from Carmen)

You're Most Kind, and in Return I Toast You

Deborah Miles-Johnson (Carmen), Emma Brain-Gabbott (Frasquita), Kathryn Jenkin (Mercedes), Geoffrey Mitchell Choir

Donizetti:

Ambo nati questa valle (from Linda di Chamounix)

In This Valley We Shared Our Childhood

Anne-Marie Gibbons (Maddalena)

Mozart:

La ci darem la mano (from Don Giovanni)

There Will My Arms Enfold You

Lucy Crowe (Zerlina)

Puccini:

Tre sbirri...Una carozza...Presto 'Te Deum' (from Tosca)

Three Agents, Quick As You Can, Now

Matthew Long (Spoletta), Geoffrey Mitchell Choir

Rodgers, R:

Some Enchanted Evening (from South Pacific)

Tchaikovsky:

Kto mozhet sravnitsa s Matildoyu moyei (Robert's aria from Iolanta)

My only beloved Mathilde I claim

Turnage:

Oh Bring to Me a Pint of Wine (from The Silver Tassie)

Verdi:

Vanne, la tua meta gia vedo…Credo in un Dio crudel (from Otello)

Take it…Yes, I Believe in God

Wagner:

Verachtet mir die Meister nicht (from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)

Do Not Disdain Our Masters Thus

O du, mein holder Abendstern (from Tannhäuser)

Look Down, O Gentle Evening Star

Weber:

Wo berg ich mich? (from Euryanthe)

What Refuge Here?


One of the leading baritones and dramatic interpreters of his generation, Gerald Finley is an artist who sets alight the stage and delights the ear in whatever the role he portrays.

On this (his first arias disc, and first for Opera in English) he explores a broad range of repertory: old favourites, hidden treasures, and roles which he himself has created, among them J.Robert Oppenheimer in John Adams’s Doctor Atomic and Harry Heegan in Mark-Anthony Turnage’s The Silver Tassie.

Gerald has won accolades across the globe including Gramophone Editor’s Choice Award at the 2006 Gramophone Awards for Stanford: Songs of the Sea (CHSA5043).

English National Opera director Edward Gardner offers a great understanding of Opera in English, and here conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra in his debut on Chandos.

“All essentials for a recital are present here: the featured artist in good voice, imagination capable of bringing 13 different characters to life..., apt recording decisions and on-the-pace accompaniment...Both Gerald Finley and Edward Gardner are natural time-travellers in lyric theatre” Gramophone Magazine, April 2010

“As this recital of operatic arias in English handsomely demonstrates, Finley has it all: a rich-toned and smoothly produced voice, crisp diction, sterling technique, immaculate legato, a keen sense of musical style and unfailing sensitivity to drama and character.” The Telegraph, 9th April 2010 ****

“Opera recital discs too often play safe with repertoire. Not here. This intelligent compilation...satisfyingly mixes popular with unfamiliar. Finley, a versatile stage presence, brings integrity to every dark, burnished note he sings. All these arias come alive, even robbed of their original context.” The Observer, 2nd May 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2010

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Chandos Opera in English - Great Operatic Arias - CHAN3167

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Great Operatic Arias 21 - Cheryl Barker

Great Operatic Arias 21 - Cheryl Barker

Sung in English


Boito:

L'altra notte in fondo al mare (from Mefistofele)

Sung in English as ‘To the moonlit waves they cast him’

Catalani:

Ebben? Ne andrò lontana (from La Wally)

Sung in English as ‘I’ll float into the distance’

Cilea:

Ecco: respiro appena. Io son l'umile ancella (from Adriana Lecouvreur)

Sung in English as 'See now, I am exhausted…I am the humble servant of God’s immortal art’

Poveri fiori (from Adriana Lecouvreur)

Sung in English as 'Poor little flowers'

Heggie:

Nineteen forty-four. March. May. June. (from The End of the Affair)

William Dazeley (Maurice)

Leoncavallo:

Qual fiamma avea nel guardo!.... Hui! Stridono lassù (from I Pagliacci)

Sung in English as 'His eyes were flashing with anger...Through the air they soar’

E fra quest'ansie... E allor perchè (I Pagliacci)

Sung in English as ‘My fate is in your hands...Then will you say why you have enslaved me?’

William Dazeley (Silvio)

Strauss, R:

Er ist der Richtige nicht für mich … Aber der Richtige, wenn's einen gibt für mich (from Arabella)

Sung in English as 'He’s not the one who is right for me’

Gillian Keith (Zdenka)

Das war sehr gut, Mandryka (from Arabella)

Sung in English as 'I’m very glad, Mandryka’

William Dazeley (Mandryka)

Tchaikovsky:

Uzh polnoch' blizitsya (from Pique Dame)

Sung in English as 'You need not close the windows just yet...Oh why am I so tearful?’

Gillian Keith (Masha)

Williamson:

How can I explain to you? (from The Violins of Saint-Jacques)


Following her superb Katya in Katya Kabanova, her Emilia Marty in The Makropulos Case, recorded live at the London Coliseum, and her Butterfly for Chandos Opera in English, we were delighted to have enticed Cheryl Barker into our studios to record these thrilling samples of her dramatic artistry in music both familiar and fresh.

The repertoire chosen for the solo disc includes works, actually performed by her on stage, as well as arias Cheryl has always enjoyed listening to.

‘There were two arias that I was very keen to include one was the scene from The End of the Affair by the brilliant American composer Jake Heggie. I premiered the role of Sarah in Houston and I think this scene is dramatic and fantastically composed. I am very proud to have recorded the aria Each Afternoon from the Violins of St Jacques by Malcolm Williamson, a fellow Australian. It is very atmospheric with its simply vocal line. I have also included some popular arias and some repertoire performed by Dame Joan Hammond with whom I studied with as a student.’

‘As an English speaker, performing these arias in English means that I can relay the emotions of the arias in my native language and I think it is interesting to an English speaking audience to hear the arias in their native tongue. Also, it is important to have an accurate translation of the original text and I think in these arias we have that.’

“Anguish… the keynote, coming across best in Margarita's prison aria from Boito's Mefistofele and Lisa's midnight soliloquy in Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2009

“Cheryl Barker is always clean in her placing of notes and clear in her articulation of the English words. …sometimes (as in the opening of the Arabella-Mandryka duet) she sings quite beautifully. …William Dazeley (surely one of our best baritones) has an attractive timbre, heard pleasingly throughout. David Parry's speeds tend to be a little too slow for my liking but the orchestral playing refined and responsive.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2009

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Chandos Opera in English - Great Operatic Arias - CHAN3161

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Rossini: The Italian Girl in Algiers (highlights)

Rossini: The Italian Girl in Algiers (highlights)


Rossini:

L'Italiana in Algeri (highlights)

Sung in English (translation by David Parry)


Jennifer Larmore (Isabella), Barry Banks (Lindoro), Alan Opie (Taddeo), Alastair Miles (Mustafa), Sarah Tynan (Elvira), Anne Marie Gibbons (Zulma) & David Soar (Haly)

Geoffrey Mitchell Choir & Philharmonia Orchestra, Brad Cohen

The latest instalment in the lauded Chandos Opera in English label is Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers. One of Rossini’s most wonderful comic operas, it has a plot full of wit, warmth and endearing craziness and music bubbling with fun and laughter.

Jennifer Larmore, who last appeared on Chandos Opera in English, in the Grammy-Award winning, Hansel and Gretel, is renowned for her performances of Isabella. She here performs the role in the premiere recording of the work in English language. Jennifer is superbly supported by Barry Banks, Alastair Miles and Alan Opie, under the lively baton of Brad Cohen conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra. Brad recently conducted Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers for Chandos OIE which elicited excellent reviews.

Issued as a ‘highlights’ disc, this is the perfect way to familiarise yourself with the opera.

“Barry Banks is a properly plaintive Lindoro… and Alastair Miles's soft-grained bass makes the lovelorn Mustafà an oddly touching figure. Best of all is the utterly dependable Alan Opie who turns tiresome Taddeo into much more than Isabella's lap dog.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2009 ****

“Rossini's The Italian Girl distils readily onto a single CD. The First Act is substantially there and the Second can survive without the Quintet.
The only gripe concerns the decision to end with Isabella's Rondo. Rossini finished serious and mixed-mode operas this way but not the out-and-out comedies. The final vaudeville runs for around 2'20” and should have been included.
With opera in English, translation is key.
Arthur Jacobs's translation in the vocal score of the Ricordi Critical Edition is a workmanlike affair but it isn't a patch on David Parry's brilliant new version. Lines from Isabella's cavatina are typically felicitous: “Through years of practising / I have perfected / The gesture languishing / The sigh affected”.
Jennifer Larmore has recorded the opera in Italian (Teldec) but her English Isabella, superbly articulated and projected, is both formidable and funny. Her Act 2 cavatina, played with the original cello obbligato, is the lyric highlight. Happily, the three men in her life are equally vividly characterised: Alan Opie as her hang-dog admirer Taddeo, Barry Banks a most eloquent Lindoro, and Alastair Miles as the lascivious Mustafà. Fifty years ago there was barely a bass in Europe who could find his way around Mustafà's bumbling coloratura, let alone project the text as Miles does here.
Brad Cohen conducts superbly, bringing out the strength and expressive range of music that revels in the thrill of sexual confrontation and the speed and power of the vortex into which so-called civilised society can all too rapidly vanish.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“A remarkable recording of the best bits of Rossini's comedy… Jennifer Larmore has recorded the opera in Italian… but her English Isabella, superbly articulated and projected, is both formidable and funny. Her Act 2 cavatina, played with the original cello, is the lyric highlight. Happily, the three men in her life are equally vividly characterised: Alan Opie as her hang-dog admirer Taddeo, Barry Banks a most eloquent Lindoro, and Alastair Miles as the lascivious Mustafa. Brad Cohen conducts superbly, bringing out the strength and expressive range of music that revels in the thrill of sexual confrontation...” Gramophone Magazine, June 2009

“Jennifer Larmore is a technically impressive if weighty Isabella, Alastair Miles an odiously amorous Bey, but Alan Opie’s comic Taddeo takes the Rossinian honours.” The Times, 11th April 2009 ****

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Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3160

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Great Operatic Arias 20 - Christine Brewer Volume 2

Great Operatic Arias 20 - Christine Brewer Volume 2


Beethoven:

Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin? (from Fidelio)

Sung in English as 'Vile murderer! Sadistic swine!'

Britten:

Embroidery in childhood (from Peter Grimes)

Dvorak:

Songs My Mother Taught Me, Op. 55 No. 4

Gluck:

Ou suis-je? (from Alceste)

Sung in English as 'Where am I?'

Grands dieux soutenez mon courage… Ah ! Divinités implacables (from Alceste)

Sung in English as ‘Great Gods! Cruel fortune has cursed me’

Handel:

Se il mio duol non e si forte (from Rodelinda)

Sung in English as 'If my pain, my bitter sighing’

Korngold:

Glück, das mir verbleib 'Marietta's Lied' (from Die Tote Stadt)

Sung in English as ‘My joy lives in you’

Timothy Robinson (tenor)

Lehár:

Wer hat die Liebe uns ins Herz gesenkt (from Das Land des Lächelns)

Sung in English as 'Love, what has given you this magic pow’r?’

Timothy Robinson (tenor)

Menotti:

To this we've come (from The Consul)

Mozart:

Porgi amor (from Le nozze di Figaro)

Sung in English as 'Hear my prayer'

Sull' aria che soave zeffiretto (from Le Nozze di Figaro)

Sung in English as 'The Breezes'

Judith Howarth (soprano)

Rodgers, R:

The Sound of Music: 'Climb Every Mountain'

Wagner:

Allmächt’ge Jungfrau! (from Tannhäuser)

Sung in English as 'Almighty Virgin'!

Einsam in trüben Tagen (from Lohengrin)

Sung in English as ‘When all my hopes departed’


We were delighted when the internationally renowned soprano Christine Brewer agreed to record some of her favourite repertoire pieces on her first recital disc for Chandos in 2005. No surprise that it was a huge success – so we were even more delighted when she returned to record this second volume – repertoire which you would never hear in a single concert or operatic performance, but here capturing Brewer’s glorious range, wonderfully supported by Judith Howarth, Timothy Robinson and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by David Parry.

Christine Brewer’s earlier recital (CHAN3127) introduced into this series the dramatic soprano voice and included in its programme, as does its successor, arias from Gluck’s Alceste and Wagner’s Tannhäuser. In a previous age both operas were sung by Kirsten Flagstad, by general consent the greatest heroic-dramatic soprano of all. Christine Brewer now adds one of the most formidable challenges in the repertoire, Leonore’s solo in Act I of Beethoven’s Fidelio. Otherwise, the two significant extensions are in time, backward to Handel and forward to Britten and Menotti.

“This is a spectacular demonstration not only of Christine Brewer's vocal strength with every note firm from top to bottom, but of her extraordinary versatility in this wide range of repertory. She starts with a flawless account of the Countess's "Porgi amor" from Figaro with a wonderful range of tone colour. The Wagner items include both Elisabeth's Prayer from Tannhäuser and Elsa's Dream from Lohengrin, again both flawless, making one want to hear Brewer in a complete Wagner opera. ...when it comes to the aria from Korngold's Die tote Stadt and Magda's big aria from Menotti's The Consul one marvels at the power and tonal range of the voice.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2009

“[The Beethoven] is the finest piece of singing on this disc by a country mile. Brewer’s diction is superb, whilst the voice cuts through the orchestra with laser-like precision. Furious and unyielding, it is a performance to treasure.” Opera Britannia, 30th July 2009

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Chandos Opera in English - Great Operatic Arias - CHAN3159

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Strauss, R: Salome

Strauss, R: Salome

Sung in English (translation by Tom Hammond)


Susan Bullock (Salome), John Wegner (Jokanaan), Sally Burgess (Herodias), John Graham Hall (Herod Antipas), Andrew Rees (Narraboth), Rebecca de Pont Davies (Page)

Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras

Sir Charles Mackerras’s recordings are well-established collectors’ items. His consistently brilliant reviews confirm that his music-making belies his years, and his new opera recordings have become benchmarks for the Chandos Opera in English series.

Chandos’s disc of the month sees Sir Charles pick up his baton to conduct leading dramatic soprano, Susan Bullock and the Philharmonia Orchestra in his first ever recording of Richard Strauss’s Salome. This is also the premiere recording in English and follows the Grammy win for Hansel and Gretel earlier this year.

Richard Strauss is a composer for whom Sir Charles holds in deep affection. He explains “I’m just amazed that he could have written it [Salome]. Every page has something that hadn’t been done before, not even by Wagner. Bitonality, whole tone scales, everything! Endlessly varying the leitmotifs so that they take on different meaning… remarkable, and such a lesson in the use of the orchestra… it’s just superb… even if you have not heard a note of Strauss before you will be swept along by the power of the music.”

Susan Bullock has previously performed Salome in the concert format and her performances in the role of Strauss’s Elektra have brought her international acclaim. MusicWeb International wrote of her Salome “we were treated to a show-stealing dramatic performance in which her character’s complicated and confused emotions were plainly visible.” She performed the role of Elektra at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in November 2008

“…Bullock underlines the increasing insistence of Salome's demand for John's head… and keeps the meaning clear even when riding the orchestra in her love-death. If it were only for the orchestra alone, this would now be the Salome of choice… ineffably paced towards shocking climaxes, diaphanously clear, full of expressive orchestral solos (first violin especially) and naturally balanced...” BBC Music Magazine, December 2008 ****

“Language apart, the distinction of this recording lies in the superb playing of the Philharmonia Orchestra under Sir Charles Mackerras.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2009

“Mackerras is not usually mentioned when outstanding Strauss conductors are considered. But as this latest addition to Chandos's Opera in English series shows, he is an outstanding Straussian, and it's his account of a score that, in the past, has been characterised as a tone poem with voices, together with the Philharmonia's gorgeously vivid playing of it, that makes this so memorable.” The Guardian, 7th November 2008 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

20th October 2008

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3157(2)

(CD - 2 discs)

Normally: $19.75

Special: $15.80

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Bizet: The Pearl Fishers (highlights)

Bizet: The Pearl Fishers (highlights)


Bizet:

Les Pêcheurs de Perles (highlights)

Sung in English (translation by David Parry)


Bizet’s exotic opera The Pearl Fishers is now released on the Chandos Opera in English label. Although not as well-known as Bizet’s Carmen, The Pearl Fishers contains a wealth of attractive music, including the well-known duet ‘Au fond du Temple saint’, one of the UK’s ‘favourite tunes’. There is surely no better way of discovering the jewels of this romantic work than listening to the superb voices of Rebecca Evans, Barry Banks, Simon Keenlyside, and Alastair Miles.

A leading interpreter of the bel-canto repertoire, internationally renowned for his conducting of operas of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, the Australian Brad Cohen here makes his debut on Chandos. He first came to public attention when, a year after winning the 1994 Leeds Conductor’s Competition, he conducted the world premiere of Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face. Since that promising beginning he has conducted a wide-ranging repertoire at English National Opera, Opera Australia and Opera North, to name but a few. This recording is the first to use Cohen’s own edition of The Pearl Fishers. Cohen was able to secure the original conductor’s score from 1863 and has created a new version, published by Peters Edition, that is arguably much closer to Bizet’s intentions.

The soprano Rebecca Evans takes the role of Leila. Her previous appearances on OiE include the role of Gretel in the Grammy-Award-winning Hansel and Gretel. ‘It was Rebecca Evans’s Gretel who took the honours. Spinning out radiant lines of delicious purity, she made it hard to see how the role could be sung better’, wrote The Times.

The baritone Simon Keenlyside, who takes the role of Zurga, has previously appeared on Chandos’s The Magic Flute. Both Barry Banks and Alastair Miles have recorded discs of arias for Chandos and here take the roles of Nadir and Nourabad, respectively.

“Au fond du temple saint' has long been a favourite in the recording studio. Barry Banks and Simon Keenlyside, singing the aria in English… do Bizet proud. Banks and Rebecca Evans as the priestess Leïla make the most of their seductive Act II number 'Leïla! Leïla!'. And when Leïla begs Zurga to spare his rival's life Keenlyside makes 'I would speak but I cannot' into a genuine feast.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2008 ***

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos Opera in English - CHAN3156

(CD)

Normally: $10.25

Special: $8.71

(also available to download from $10.00)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

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