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 Recording of the Week  Sir Peter Moores

It will come as a surprise to many that, arguably, one of the most important people in opera over the last thirty years is not a singer, conductor or director, but simply a very generous man who has a deep love for (and knowledge of) opera. Sir Peter Moores' philanthropic work began in his twenties when he gave financial help to a number of young artists in the crucial, early stages of their careers, several of whom - Dame Joan Sutherland, Sir Colin Davis and the late Sir Geraint Evans amongst them – went on to became leaders in their field.

Sir Peter Moores
Sir Peter Moores

He is now 76 and the support for talented young singers still goes on, the likes of Alice Coote, Toby Spence and Simon Keenlyside being just a few of the illustrious current generation. This you would have thought would have been enough, but not for Sir Peter Moores for, in addition to this support of young singers, his foundation has also enabled nearly one hundred opera recordings to be made in addition to many discs of recitals and highlights.

Recording opera in English translation developed from Peter Moores' determination that Reginald Goodall's 'English' Ring cycle in London in the early 1970s should be recorded 'live' for posterity. This was followed by many others recorded both live and in the studio and the collection which now numbers over 50 operas is found on Chandos's Opera in English series. Now I have to admit that I (like I imagine many others) have some reservations about recording opera in English, for while in theory it is a lot easier to understand an opera when sung in your native language, in practice it is very hard to hear the words. But quite apart from the language debate, some of the recordings have been so outstanding that they’ve been first choices anyway. Already this year for example we’ve had that very famous ‘lost’ Goodall Mastersinger, and out next week is a brand new recording of Richard Strauss’s Salome under Sir Charles Mackerras with leading dramatic soprano Susan Bullock in the title role.

The Peter Moores Foundation also collaborates on many recordings with Opera Rara, a specialist label founded by the late Patric Schmid, devoted to the exploration, restoration and recording of the lost operatic heritage of the 19th century. Opera Rara's recordings have brought forgotten musical treasures to life, making them widely available to the public for the first time. I’m always amazed by how many of these largely unknown operas we sell, and their latest release (Bellini’s La straniera) is no exception. I’m pleased to say that it, along with the majority of the Opera Rara catalogue, is included in our current box set special offer so if you fancy exploring a few rarities it is a good time to do it.

Sir Peter Moores's commitment and generosity to music, and above all opera, was marked last month with the ‘Special Achievement Award’ at this year’s Gramophone Awards. He has given so much to both musicians and music lovers and it is very satisfying to know that, through all the recordings he has enabled, music lovers, some not even born, will still be reaping the benefits in years to come.

Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Margaret Curphey (soprano), Ann Robson (mezzo-soprano), Alberto Remedios (tenor), Gregory Dempsey (tenor), Norman Bailey (bass-baritone), Noel ngin (bass), Derek Hammond Stroud (baritone) & Stafford Dean (bass) Sadlers Wells Chorus & Sadlers Wells Opera Orchestra, Reginald Goodall

Available Format: CD

Strauss, R: Salome

Susan Bullock (soprano), Sally Burgess (mezzo), John Graham Hall (tenor) & John Wegner (baritone), Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Bellini: La straniera

Patrizia Ciofi is Alaida (The stranger) with Mark Stone (Il barone di Valdeburgo), Darío Schmunck (Arturo), Enkelejda Shokas (Isoletta), Graeme Broadbent (Il Priore), Roland Wood (Il signore di Montolino) and Aled Hall (Osburgo), Geoffrey Mitchell Choir and The London Philharmonic Orchestra, David rry

Available Formats: MP3, CD Quality FLAC