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Thanks for the heads-up on the Jill Gomez. Looks a nice set.
 
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Discussion Starter · #202 ·
Thanks for the heads-up on the Jill Gomez. Looks a nice set.
She was a very fine singer (I assume she's retired now), whom I heard in the opera house quite a few times when I was younger. Apparently she was somewhat outspoken about the "international opera circus", preferring to appear in smaller theatres (although she did sing at Covent Garden), otherwise she would no doubt have been better known.
 

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She was a very fine singer (I assume she's retired now), whom I heard in the opera house quite a few times when I was younger. Apparently she was somewhat outspoken about the "international opera circus", preferring to appear in smaller theatres (although she did sing at Covent Garden), otherwise she would no doubt have been better known.
I found a copy of A Spanish songbook on Amazon for £2.99 including postage!! Yay!
 

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Discussion Starter · #205 · (Edited)
I found a copy of A Spanish songbook on Amazon for £2.99 including postage!! Yay!
Well worth the modest outlay, I'd have said.

This one is very good too.


I've reviewed it on my blog too, but the site doesn't seem to be allowing me to post the link.
 

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Discussion Starter · #206 ·


It's as well to remember that Callas only approved about half of the items on this disc for release, and then only after she had been inactive for some years. The voice, particularly in the first aria, O madre dal cielo from I Lombardi is often uningratiating and there are some audible tape joins before high notes. Most of the items were recorded in 1964 and 1965, around the same time as her return to the stage, though the two later items, the arias from Il Corsaro, were recorded in 1969 and are, surprisingly, more comfortable to listen to.

That said, the artistry and immagination remain as does her command of fioriture, as well as Verdian style. Students could learn a lot about how to shape and measure the weight of a phrase.

I have reviewed this more extensively on my blog, if anyone is interested https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/verdi-arias-iii/
 

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Discussion Starter · #207 ·
A couple of vocal recitals.



Dame Maggie Teyte in concert, at the age of sixty no less! Teyte, a famous Mélisande who studied the role with Debussy himself, sings extended excerpts from the opera with piano accompaniment, singing all the roles. It shouldn't work, but somehow it does. It takes her the first song in the recital (Grétry's Rose chérie) to warm up, but thereafter you would never believe this was the voice of a sixty year old woman. The disc also includes privately recorded excerpts from Strauss's Salome also with piano, from when Teyte was preparing the role for Covent Garden about fifteen years earlier, a project that unofrtunately never came to fruition. Her bright, slivery soprano might just have been the voice Strauss imagined.

She also sings Britten's Les Illuminations in a version for piano, making me wish she had recorded the orchestral version, although preferably a few years earlier. Just occasionally there is a flicker of frailty in the middle voice, although the top register remains firm and clear as a bell. The encores include a lovely performance of Hahn's popular Si mes vers avaient des ailes.



Another enterprising disc from Dawn Upshaw, who seems to have disappeared from the scene now. The centrepiece is Earl Kim's Where grief slumbers written in 1982 for voice, harp and string orchestra, but here presented in a 1990 arrangement for voice, double string quartet and harp, and Upshaw is an ideal interpreter. She is equally at home in the rest of the programme; Falla's Psyché, Ravel's Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé, Stravinsky's Two poems of Konstantin Bel'mont and Three Japanese Lyrics and Delage's Quatre poèmes hindous, though here I slightly prefer the warmer tones of Dame Janet Baker. Nevertheless a thoroughly absorbing disc.

As with so many of these Nonsuch discs, documentation is slight, and, though we are vouchsafed lyrics and translations, a little more information about the provenance of these songs, especially the less famous Kim cycle, would have been much appreciated.
 
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Discussion Starter · #208 ·


Renée Fleming was at her peak when this recital was recorded and this is, without doubt, one of her most successful records. The programme is a varied one too, with familiar items like Gershwin's Summertime and Bernstein's Glitter and be gay rubbing shoulders with items from more rarely performed works like Hermann's Wuthering Heights and Floyd's Susannah. The inclusion of Anne's No word from Tom from Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress rather stretches the subtitle American Opera Arias a bit, but is possibly justified as Auden, Kallman and Stravinsky were all resident in the US at the time of its composition.

The disc opens with a short extract from Bernard Herrmann's Wuthering Heights, which was written in 1943 but never staged in Herrmann's lifetime. In fact it was only premiered in 1982 by Portland Opera, but with the ending changed to one Julius Rudel had proposed several years earlier. It wasn't performed in full until 2011, by Minnesota Opera. I have dreamt, lusciously sung here by Fleming, woud suggest the opera might be worth further investigation.

The excerpts from Douglas Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe and Menotti's The Medium are both lovely in every way, but the Gershwin items from Porgy and Bess suffer from a lack of spontaneity. Fleming introduces all sorts of jazzy slides and glottal attacks which simply sound affected. Leontyne Price sings this music much more simply and allows the music to blossom on its own.

The considerable difficulties of Bernstein's Glitter and be gay are tossed off with ease and here she captures the irony in the piece marvellously. It's a piece that, unsurprisingly, many opera singers have added to their repertoire but few of them challenge the original interpreter, Broadway star Barbara Cook, who created the role and whose diction is a good deal more clear. To be honest, the only "operatic" version I've heard that does is Dawn Upshaw's, but Fleming's is certainly amongst the best.

Next we have two pieces from Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, which brought back happy memories of seeing Fleming in the role at the Met shortly after she recorded these exceprts. She is at her considerable best here, flooding the gratefully lyrical lines with gorgeous tone, but also capturing the character's longing for adventure in the first, her loneliness in the second.

Finally we have a reminiscence of her Anne Trulove, which she sang at the Aspen Music Festival in 1987 and a taster of her Blanche Dubois in Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, which she premiered soon after making this recording. She has a richer voice than most Annes, but negotiates its complexities with ease and her Blanche is simply hors concours. The aria I want magic was an obvious high spot when she sang the role in London with the LSO, but I rather wish they had also included the final aria, I can smell the sea air, which had a huge effect on me each time I heard it whilst waiting in the wings to make my entrance as the doctor. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.

Sandwiched between the Stravinsky and the Previnwe have Vanessa's passionate Act I aria from Barber's opera, which left me wondering why nobody had thought to revive the opera with Fleming in the title role. It would have suited her perfectly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #209 · (Edited)


A few weeks ago I reviewed Renée Fleming's excellent disc of American opera arias and today I turn to Dawn Upshaw's disc, which takes its title, The World So Wide, from the first item in the recital, Laurie's Song from Aaron Copland's The Tender Land. It makes a lovely opener and Upshaw is perfectly cast as the young girl who yearns to escape and see the world.

At about 45 minutes, the disc is quite short measure, however, and not everything is as good as the first track. The piece from Tanía León's Scourge of Hyacinths is tediously declamatory and afforded me the least enjoyment on the disc. I'd also suggest that Upshaw's is not the right voice for Barber's Cleopatra, a role that was written for the much more opulent voice of Leontyne Price. Upshaw's lighter, brighter sounds do not conjure up the woman of whom Enobarbus says,

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety. Other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies, for vilest things
Become themselves in her, that the holy priests
Bless her when she is riggish.
I enjoyed the excerpt from John Adams Nixon in China rather more than the Gramophone reviewer, who fund it "tediously protracted", and I suppose you either like Adams's style or you don't. Whatever your feelings, Upshaw delivers Pat Nixon's This is prophetic brilliantly. She is also superb in the more Broadway influenced What a movie from Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, but I thought her singing of Lonely house (an aria sung by the male character of Sam Kaplan in Street Scene) just a little too overtly operatic. Teresa Stratas manages it better on her second disc of Weill songs and arias.

After the Copland and Benstein, the most successful item on the disc is Willow Song from Douglas Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe, which responds well to her charming, uncomplicated manner. So too, one would think, does the final item (and the only item she shares with Fleming on her disc), Ain't it a pretty night from Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, but here I have to admit I prefer the rather more sensuos tones of Fleming, who suggests a far more highly charged eroticism behind the apparent simplicity of the music.

A mixed bag, then, and not so successful as her disc of Broadway songs entitled I Wish It So, but worth a listen for the unusual repertoire and for some excellent performances.
 

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Skin Lip Chin Hand Plant


One of my latest purchases was this album by Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho. I find most recent recital albums have been disappointing for one reason or another and both the classical music recording industry and CD market are in decline.

Despite Jaho being one of my two favourite sopranos singing today, most of the items on this disc have been sung better by others (although there are enough rarities for their to be something new for most opera fans as well), the other initial drawback is that it is a homage album to the singer Rosina Storchio. Homage albums tend to be good ideas that end badly (the worst being Gheorgiu's one to Callas which succeeded merely in proving that, despite her dreams to the contrary, Gheorgiu is NOT Callas!) Bartoli fared better, but then she intelligently compared herself with Malibran, who died well before recording technology was invented. Her disc 'Maria' was interesting from an academic point of view, presenting some interesting rarities, but the inevitable inclusion of well known works left me wanting when we have such wonderful examples from Callas, Caballe and Sutherland to compare with.

When it comes to this disc, however, the Storchio connection isn't that much a defining feature of the recital as it is just the sort of rep that Jaho has been singing and mostly praised in. (It starts and ends with the two Butterfly arias, a role that is practically a calling card of hers and in which I haven't heard an equal in the last twenty years.) She also sings the act three Traviata aria and then we get a succession of rarities with the odd better known piece thrown in. All is wonderfully done, although she tends to be more passionate in live performance. I have only given it one listen so far and would have to go back and try it again, but it's all done with great sensitivity to both music and text. She doesn't erase memories of some of the great interpretations of the past where she sings rep that was recorded by Callas, De los Angeles, Freni or even Gheorgiu, but there is enough here and of a good enough quality to make this well worth the purchase price.

N.
 

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Discussion Starter · #211 ·
View attachment 145151

One of my latest purchases was this album by Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho. I find most recent recital albums have been disappointing for one reason or another and both the classical music recording industry and CD market are in decline.

Despite Jaho being one of my two favourite sopranos singing today, most of the items on this disc have been sung better by others (although there are enough rarities for their to be something new for most opera fans as well), the other initial drawback is that it is a homage album to the singer Rosina Storchio. Homage albums tend to be good ideas that end badly (the worst being Gheorgiu's one to Callas which succeeded merely in proving that, despite her dreams to the contrary, Gheorgiu is NOT Callas!) Bartoli fared better, but then she intelligently compared herself with Malibran, who died well before recording technology was invented. Her disc 'Maria' was interesting from an academic point of view, presenting some interesting rarities, but the inevitable inclusion of well known works left me wanting when we have such wonderful examples from Callas, Caballe and Sutherland to compare with.

When it comes to this disc, however, the Storchio connection isn't that much a defining feature of the recital as it is just the sort of rep that Jaho has been singing and mostly praised in. (It starts and ends with the two Butterfly arias, a role that is practically a calling card of hers and in which I haven't heard an equal in the last twenty years.) She also sings the act three Traviata aria and then we get a succession of rarities with the odd better known piece thrown in. All is wonderfully done, although she tends to be more passionate in live performance. I have only given it one listen so far and would have to go back and try it again, but it's all done with great sensitivity to both music and text. She doesn't erase memories of some of the great interpretations of the past where she sings rep that was recorded by Callas, De los Angeles, Freni or even Gheorgiu, but there is enough here and of a good enough quality to make this well worth the purchase price.

N.
I haven't heard the whole recital, but I did do a recent comparison of different singers in Boito's L'altra notte.

The singers were Tebald, Callas, Kyra Vane, Caballé, De Los Angele and Michelle Crieder. Leaving interpretation aside for the moment, the first thing that struck me was Jaho's heavy vibrato, which seems to be part of the voice itself, not something added for expression. All of the others apart from Crieder, were much cleaner with a firmer core to their voices. The only one with a vibrato approaching that of Jaho's was the much more recently recorded Crieder. I found Jaho's vibrato intrusive and the aria didn't invite me to listen to any more.
 

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I haven't heard the whole recital, but I did do a recent comparison of different singers in Boito's L'altra notte.

The singers were Tebald, Callas, Kyra Vane, Caballé, De Los Angele and Michelle Crieder. Leaving interpretation aside for the moment, the first thing that struck me was Jaho's heavy vibrato, which seems to be part of the voice itself, not something added for expression. All of the others apart from Crieder, were much cleaner with a firmer core to their voices. The only one with a vibrato approaching that of Jaho's was the much more recently recorded Crieder. I found Jaho's vibrato intrusive and the aria didn't invite me to listen to any more.
That's interesting. She certainly isn't up to the standard of past divas either vocally or interpretatively, however I find her warm vibrato pleasant enough and whilst she suffers from a certain amount of potato in the mouth, she is one of the better singers performing today.

N.
 

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Discussion Starter · #213 ·
That's interesting. She certainly isn't up to the standard of past divas either vocally or interpretatively, however I find her warm vibrato pleasant enough and whilst she suffers from a certain amount of potato in the mouth, she is one of the better singers performing today.

N.
I have seen her on stage just the once - as Desdemona in Covent Garden's recent Otello - and I really liked her, nor did I notice any excessive vibrato. Of course it's quite possible that it is accentuated on records.
 

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Discussion Starter · #215 ·


Now here is an interesting and enterprising collection of music centred around Richard Dehmel's poem Verklärte Nacht, which most famously inspired Schoenberg's great work, which is included in its orchestral incarnation here.

I'm guessing not many would be able to identify the composer of the first work here, a powerful tone poem for tenor and orchestra depicting the hallucinations of a young soldier in a field hospital during World War I. The Mahlerian influences are obvious but I doubt many would hazard the name of Franz Lehár. This is a piece I am very much going to enjoy getting to know.

It is followed by a setting of Verklärte Nacht for tenor, mezzo-soprano and orchestra by Oskar Fried, a Mahler champion, and written at about the same time as Schoenberg's more well known work. It makes an interesting and apposite opening to the Schoenberg, which follows. An excellent performance here from the BBC SO under Edward Gardiner.

The disc closes with another rarity, Korngold's Songs of Farewell, composed not long after his opera, Die tote Stadt and in a similar lush and lyrical vein. Highly recommended.
 

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Discussion Starter · #216 ·


Now this is rather special. The young French/Danish soprano Elsa Dreisig follows up her excellent debut album of operatic excerpts with this beautifully compiled recital of songs for voice and piano, showing that she is equally at home in the more intimate surroundings of the recital room. The programme is an interesting one with the piano accompanied versions of Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder (plus his final ever song Malven) split up and inserted into different points of the recital. The songs weren't orginally planned as a cycle in any case, and this makes for some fascinating juxtapositions. The rest of the programme is made up of songs by Rachmaninov and Duparc and leads us on a most satisfying journey, "an inner journey across the seasons of the soul," as Dreisig writes in the accompanying notes.

The North Star, our guide, is Strauss with thes Four Last Songs (or five if we count Malven, his final song), in conversation with Duparc and Rachmaninov. Starting at the dawn of Spring and of youth, we visit Summer and its passions then, by way of Autumn nights and the dreamlike world of spleep, we come to face to face with the unknown and with passing time. A journey of initiation, one that allows us to contemplate loss and death, thinking all the while of tomorrow: morgen.
Save for Rachmaninov's The Pied Piper the mood is generally dreamy and Dreisig and her accompanist, the superb Jonathan Ware, create spell bindng magic, drawing us in to their carefully crafted programme. Dreisig's voice is a lovely, lyric soprano with a pearly, opalescent radiance that suits all these songs perfectly, but she is much more than a lovely voice. What is unusual is her rare gift for communication, her innate musicality and the specificity of her response to all these songs.

The highlights for me are her languidly dreamy and erotic rendition of Duparc's Phidylé and Extase, Rachmaninov's At Night In My Garden, and all the Strauss items gorgeously sung, yet with due attention to the text. I do hope Dresig will soon get to record the orchestral version of his Vier letzte Lieder. Ware plays magnificently, probably the best version of the piano accompaniment I have ever heard, but I do miss Strauss's glorious orchestration. A total contrast is afforded when she follows it with her superbly suggestive singing of Rachmaninov's The Pied Piper, which shows off admirably her brilliant gift for characterisation, but really there isn't a dud in the whole recitial

This is a wonderful disc and one of the best soprano song recitals I have heard in a very long time. Start the disc from the beginning and allow these artists to take you along on their journey. One listen quickly became two. Dreisig turns thirty this year. Let us hope that the pandemic has not stimmied a career that was just starting to get going. Warmly recommended.
 

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Discussion Starter · #217 ·


This disc is mostly taken from a recital given by Ricciarelli in Switzerland in 1979, with the final two items from a concert given the following year. The programme is a good one, starting with bel canto items and finishing with verismo, with early and middle period Verdi bridging the gap.

The voice is mostly in good shape, though it develops a slight beat on high when under pressure, more noticeable in the verismo items than it is in the gentler bel canto she chooses, and it is the items by Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi that make the greatest impression.

We start with Giulietta's Oh quante volte from I Capuleti e i Montecchi, a role that suited her like a glove and for which she receieved rave reviews when she sang it at Covent Garden in a revival of the production first mounted for Gruberova and Baltsa. I also heard her sing the aria at a recital at the Barbican Hall in 1987 in a programme very similar to the one we have here. This aria was undoubtedly the highlight of the night and she was forced to encore it at the end of the evening. She spins out the phrases quite deiciously and with superb musicality and, as she never has to force her voice, the result is mesmerisingly beautiful.

The Donizetti items are also beautifully moulded, the lines caressed, though one notes that she does not sing the more forceful cabaletta to the Anna Bolena aria, and I imagine it would have taxed her limits, though she did sing the role quite a lot, apparently with much success. The Lucrezia Borgia is also an elegiac piece and again she fills its phrases with signifcance, her phrasing unfailingly musical.

Of the two Verdi items the first from Il Corsaro suits her better and I rather wish that she had been cast in Gardelli's Philps recording of 1976. Norman, who sings Medora, isn't bad by any means, but Ricciarelli is more inside the music, more stylish. The following year she joined the Philips early Verdi stable, singing Lucrezia in I Due Foscari and Lida in La Battaglia de Legnano and she is superb in both.

The Forza aria suggests that the role may have been a bit too big for her and the voice does rather glare on the climactic Bb on Maledizion. The floated one on Invan la pace is better, but still sounds a mite insecure.

The verismo arias also have their attractions and are very well received by the audiences, possibly because they were better known, but again climactic high notes are apt to glare uncomfortably, particularly in the exposed climax to Wally's lovely Ebben. Ne andro lontana. None the less the aria is beautifully felt and delivered with a sighing loneliness that is most effective. She also differentiates nicely between Tosca's utter desperation and Butterfly's single minded conviction that Pinkerton will return.

All in all, then a rewarding programme. Ricciarelli is a singer I have come to admire more with the passing years. More vocally fallible than such contemporaries as Freni or Caballé, less individual in her response to the text than Scotto, her singing is unfailingly musical and I derived a lot of pleasure from this recital.
 

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I recently treated myself to a nice box - Les Introuvables du Chant Verdien. I’ve listened to CD 1, Ernani and Trovatore. Some great singing but the standout track for all sorts of reasons, some of them very wrong!, is Timor Di Me sung by Emmy Destinn. I urge those of you who are interested to try and hear this. Absolutely mental for the last couple of minutes. A masterclass in throwing the kitchen sink at an aria and then following it up with the rest of the kitchen!

It cheered me up no end. I see that it is on YouTube. Enjoy. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #219 · (Edited)
I recently treated myself to a nice box - Les Introuvables du Chant Verdien. I've listened to CD 1, Ernani and Trovatore. Some great singing but the standout track for all sorts of reasons, some of them very wrong!, is Timor Di Me sung by Emmy Destinn. I urge those of you who are interested to try and hear this. Absolutely mental for the last couple of minutes. A masterclass in throwing the kitchen sink at an aria and then following it up with the rest of the kitchen!

It cheered me up no end. I see that it is on YouTube. Enjoy. :lol:
It's hardly subtle, is it? This is what John Steane says sbout the recording in The Grand Tradition

The 'D'amor sull'ali rosee' from Il Trovatore has the distinction of excellent trills, a fine cadenza, some high notes taken with marvellous softness and accuracy, a stunning high D flat, and some interesting phrasing. Even so, it remains a very extravert performance, rarely relaxing, rarely attempting or achieving subtety. Modern singers could learn much from it in matters of tone and technique, but no doubt Destinn might have learnt from them in the matter of interpretation.
I can but agree and note that she hardly begins to weave into the piece the atmosphere of night and mystery I require. My yardstick is, predictably, Callas ("That woman is a miracle," according to Schwarzkopf when she heard her sing it at La Scala in 1953), but I also enjoy versions from Ponselle, Leontyne Price, Rosalind Plowright (in the Giulini recording) and, surprsingly perhaps, Frida Leider, who sings in German, but with a fine sense of style and superb trills.

The Introuvables series are all very collectible and I've been looking for a reasonably priced Verdi one for some time.
 
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It's hardly subtle, is it? This is what John Steane says sbout the recording in The Grand Tradition

I can but agree and note that she hardly begins to weave into the piece the atmosphere of night and mystery I require. My yardstick is, predictably, Callas ("That woman is a miracle," according to Schwarzkopf when she heard her sing it at La Scala in 1953), but I also enjoy versions from Ponselle, Leontyne Price, Rosalind Plowright (in the Giulini recording) and, surprsingly perhaps, Frida Leider, who sings in German, but with a fine sense of style and superb trills.

The Introuvables series are all very collectible and I've been looking for a reasonably priced Verdi one for some time.
It was the other aria, Timor Di Me, I was referring to, not D'amor sull'ali Rosee. She's not too bad in this compared to Timor. It's on you tube too.

The Introuvables one I would like is the Mozart one but it is hard to find at an affordable price.
 
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