"Il tenero momento - Mozart & Gluck Arias / Susan Graham"
Christoph W. Gluck
American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham has become one of our musical treasures on the opera stage today. Her latest recital, "Il Tenero Momento," alternating music by Mozart and Gluck, gives another example of her gift for melding exquisite musicality with intelligence and deep humanity.
"Verdi: Pezzi Sacri / Remigio, Chung, et al"
Verdi's return to opera writing late in life, which produced the two masterpieces Otello and Falstaff, is an astonishing example of creative resurgence. But during his "retirement," the maestro wasn't completely abandoned by his Muse. In addition to the famous "Requiem," Verdi composed several pieces of sacred music. Myung-Whun Chung leads the collection of "Four Sacred Pieces" with the dramatic fervor and lyrical delicacy that characterize his highly regarded "Otello."
"Karita Mattila live in Helsinki - Saraste, Helsinki Radio SO"
...more It's been an amazing season for Finnish diva Karita Mattila, fresh from her Met triumph as Leonore in a new production of "Fidelio." Variety spices up this live recital album, with music ranging from Wagner and Dvorák to Finnish songs and a knockout "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend."
"Naive - Henri IV & Marie de Medics - Messe de Mariage"
The early-music ensemble Doulce Memoire loves to build programs around interesting stories and historical events, and here they turn to the unusual marriage in 1600 between erstwhile Protestant King Henri IV of France and the wealthy Maria de' Medici. The ensemble has chosen appropriate music, some directed specifically to the royal couple, by composers at the courts of Henri and the Medici. Particularly delightful are the musicians' improvised embellishments in music both intricate and elegant.
"Handel: Italian Cantatas / Kozena, Minkowski, et al"
George Frideric Handel
Handel spent an important phase of his career as a young man in Italy, learning the art of opera at its source, but also composing some extraordinary secular cantatas. This release collects three of the "Italian cantatas" and features Czech mezzo Magdalena Kozená, whose warm and elegant timbre has enriched her interpretations of Bach. Conductor Marc Minkowski and his Musiciens du Louvre are exactly right for this repertory.
"Clara Butt - A Critical Survey Vol 1 - The Acoustic Years"
Here's a chance to dial yourself back to Edwardian England to sample one of the most extraordinary singers of the 20th century. Clara Butt stood 6-foot-2 with a frame to match and a voice that easily spanned the range between a soprano's top notes and a baritone's low ones. An important singer, even if an acquired taste for many, Butt sang with a power that defied the primitive recording equipment of the time. The repertory gathered here represents her concert programs: a nod to operatic and oratorio selections, classical songs, and a heavy dose of folk songs and sentimental ballads.
"A - Z of Opera (includes 762 page booklet)"
This package is actually more useful for its accompanying booklet than for the wide-ranging, two-CD sampler of the operatic repertory (drawn from Naxos's recorded catalog). The "booklet" is, in fact, a hefty, 762-page illustrated reference that includes a thumbnail sketch of opera history and synopses (with handy cast lists) of hundreds of works, along with information on key composers--a very handy companion for your record collection.
EARLY MUSIC STORE: BACK BEFORE BACH
There’s a huge, tremendously varied, and exciting world of classical music from before the time of Bach and Handel. It ranges from the soaring chant of the mystic Hildegard von Bingen and other sacred choral works to the secular, courtly love songs of the troubadours and trouvčres. Visit Amazon.com's Early Music Store for recommended titles.
Go to Early Music Store
L FREE MUSIC DOWNLOADS
Following her success as part of the all-out smash cast in last year's
recording of the Handel opera "Alcina," French soprano Natalie Dessay
to the music of Mozart in her latest effort. "Mozart Heroines" includes
well-loved arias from "The Magic Flute," but Dessay also applies her
vocal technique to portray characters from lesser-known works such as
"Zaide" (from which you can download the exquisite "Ruhe sanft").
NAXOS SERIES: MUSICAL AMERICA
Naxos American Classics
Naxos's American Classics series is one of the most exciting classical label projects happening today. Featuring both acclaimed masterpieces ( Ives: Symphony No. 2) and important new works ( Thomas Beveridge's "Yizkor Requiem"), this ever-growing series offers new, budget-priced recordings of some of the finest classical music created by Americans. Here's a look at Naxos's current American Classics offerings.
In the classical music world, one of the more significant dates in the 2001 calendar is January 27, which marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Verdi. It's an occasion to reflect on the enormous impact of a composer who perfected the tradition of Italian opera--investing the lyric stage with a Shakespearean range and depth. Visit our Verdi Store for recommended recordings, videos, and books that pertain to Verdi, and check out some 30% discounts.
MORE NEW AND NOTABLE
"Menotti: 'Amelia al Ballo' and Instrumental Interludes from 'The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore'" Margherita Carosio, Rolando Panerai, et al.; Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra and Chorus; Nino Sanzogno and Thomas Schippers, conductors
On the threshold of what would become one of the more successful careers among 20th-century opera composers, Gian Carlo Menotti saw his delightful, buffo-inspired one-act parody "Amelia Goes to the Ball" produced at the Met in 1938. This historic recording comes from the opera's 1954 premiere at La Scala in Milan.
Natalie Dessay, soprano; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; Louis Langree, conductor
Following her success as part of the all-out smash cast in last year's recording of the Handel opera "Alcina," the French soprano provides us with a companion to her 1998 album of Mozart concert arias. "Mozart Heroines" includes well-loved arias from "The Magic Flute," but Dessay also applies her silken vocal technique to portray characters from such lesser-known works as "Lucio Silla" and "Zaide."
"Vivaldi: Sacred Music (Vol. 6)"
Susan Gritton, Nathalie Stutzmann, et al.; The King's Consort; Robert King, conductor
As wonderful a masterpiece as "The Four Seasons" concertos are, there's a much wider world of beauty that's opened up by the music of Vivaldi. For the last five years, Robert King and his colleagues have been exploring the prodigal output of magnificent sacred music by the "red priest. This sixth volume includes the "Salve Regina," "Nisi Dominus," "Beatus Vir," and more.
Matthias Goerne, baritone; Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Manfred Honeck, conductor
The uncompromising art of young German baritone Matthias Goerne has embraced Schubert (he participated in Hyperion's massive "Schubert Edition: Complete Songs"), Schumann, Bach, and much of the repertory covered by his renowned mentor Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Yet Goerne has etched a unique profile, and his latest collection involves an unusual but thought-provoking program that mixes Mozart with Berg.
"J.S. Bach: Cantatas & Arias"
Ian Bostridge, tenor; Europa Galante; Fabio Biondi, conductor
A hit in 2000 at the BBC Proms, the team of tenor Ian Bostridge and Europa Galante continues to bring musical integrity and expressive richness to their Bach performances. This collection samples from cantatas that were created throughout Bach's life work, with occasional arrangements of arias especially for tenor voice-- additional proof that of Bach there never is enough to be heard.
"Petitgirard: Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man" Nathalie Stutzmann, Robert Breault, et al.; Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo; Laurent Petitgirard, conductor
French composer Laurent Petitgirard (born in 1950) has fashioned a career by writing music for stage and symphony along with film scores, and is a noted conductor, too. "Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man" is his first opera, and is released here on record in anticipation of its stage debut in Prague in 2002. Using a source different from that upon which David Lynch relied for his film, Petitgirard traces how the emergence of Merrick as a public spectacle signified the transition from the Victorian to the modern age--his music appropriately straddling both worlds.
JOHN ELIOT GARDINER'S BACH CANTATA PILGRIMAGE
Surely one of today's leading Bach interpreters, John Eliot Gardiner recently has completed perhaps his most ambitious tribute yet to the composer. The project, which started on Christmas Day, 1999, was to celebrate the Bach anniversary with a "pilgrimage" of performances of all of the surviving cantatas. The route began in Saxony and was intended to extend to 50 of "the most beautiful holy buildings in Europe and beyond"--climaxing with performances in New York at the end of 2000. The entire 12-CD series is available now.
GRAMMY NOMINEES 2001: BEST OPERA RECORDING
The nominations for the 43rd Grammy Awards are in, and Busoni's complex masterpiece "Doktor Faust"--which is just receiving its belated Metropolitan Opera debut--was one of the five selections for the category Best Opera Recording. This might turn out to be a Busoni year, for his dazzling "Piano Concerto" made it into the Best Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra category (thanks to Marc-Andre Hamelin's high-wire performance). The four other nominees for Best Opera Recording are Britten's "Billy Budd," Rameau's "Dardanus," Berg's "Wozzeck," and Prokofiev's "Semyon Kotko."
Busoni: "Doktor Faust"
Britten: "Billy Budd"
Prokofiev: "Semyon Kotko"
NEW AND NOTABLE
Cecilia Bartoli, Christoph Pregardien, et al.; Concentus Musicus Wien; Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor
It's been the long-standing consensus that in the realm of opera, Mozart traveled light years beyond his good friend Franz Joseph Haydn. Yet that doesn't mean the latter's own operatic creations should be written off. For a taste, and for a fuller understanding of a composer whose genius remains strangely underrated, try out Nikolaus Harnoncourt's bristling account of one of Haydn's best operas, featuring mezzo Cecilia Bartoli in exceptional form.
"The Golden Harvest"
The Boston Camerata; Joel Cohen, conductor
This is a beautiful and nicely conceived anthology. Its topic is Shaker music going back to the mid-19th century. The Boston Camerata performs in various configurations, from solo to group settings, coloring the music with a diversity of textures.
"Reinhard Keiser: Croesus"
Roman Trekel, Dorothea Roschmann, et al.; Akademie fur Alte Musik; Rene Jacobs, conductor
A decade older than J.S. Bach, baroque composer Reinhard Keiser flourished during a vigorous period of opera making in Hamburg that focused not on the court but on the public. In this new recording of Keiser's opera about the vanity of vanities, "Croesus," Rene Jacobs and colleagues reveal just how vibrant was this pocket of creativity, which has been unjustly diminished by subsequent biases in music history.
"Thomas Beveridge: Yizkor Requiem"
Christine Goerke, Alberto Mizrahi, et al; Washington Choral Arts Society; Norman Scribner, conductor
When contemporary composer Thomas Beveridge set out to cope with the death of his parents, the result--signified in the ecumenical title--was a sacred choral work drawing on both Jewish and Christian liturgies, including the Jewish Yizkor memorial service. This performance is another triumph for Naxos's American Classics series.
"The Complete Works of J.S. Bach: Edition Bachakademie"
Helmuth Rilling, conductor, et al.
Just in case you haven't reached your full satiety level with J.S. Bach--and who really can?--the lovingly prepared complete Bach edition issued by Germany's Hanssler label is now available. Along with conductor Helmuth Rilling as presiding spirit, the 172-CD set features such artists as Trevor Pinnock, Yevgeny Koroliov, Andrea Marcon, and many others.
OPERA & VOCAL ARTIST OF THE YEAR: DAVID DANIELS
The future looks bright for opera's once-endangered species, the countertenor--a voice that only recently was considered a relic of the baroque past. And in the year 2000, the stage belonged to David Daniels, who has become its superstar exemplar in recordings such as that of Handel's "Rinaldo." Daniels's recital "Serenade" numbers among the top 10 new Opera & Vocal CDs of 2000, and Daniels himself is the Opera & Vocal Artist of the Year.
To sample Daniels in Handel's oratorio "L'Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato," follow this link:
INTRODUCTION TO PUCCINI
With the release of Andrea Bocelli's first full-length opera recording, "La Boheme," many music lovers who've never encountered a complete opera before will take the plunge. And in his tragicomic portrait of the lives of a circle of young bohemians, Giacomo Puccini created what is in many ways the quintessential opera--which also became the inspiration for one of the most successful musicals of the 1990s, "Rent." "La Boheme" makes a perfect entree for the budding opera lover. Try out our Get Started in Classical feature--which includes an audio tour--and explore Puccini's "La Boheme."
HYPERION EDITION OF THE COMPLETE SONGS OF SCHUBERT
One of the great projects in the history of recording has recently been completed: Hyperion's Schubert Edition, a 37-volume labor of love that covers the entire lyrical output of perhaps the world's greatest songwriter. Guided by pianist Graham Johnson, the Schubert Edition showcases the talent of such leading lieder interpreters as Janet Baker, Ian Bostridge, John Mark Ainsley, and many more.
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