This recording of a live performance of MEISTERSINGER from Bayreuth 1957 definitely merits five stars. For those of you who don't already know this, Gustav Neidlinger (PeaceBeUponHim) was the undisputed master of Wagner's "howling-and-spitting" villain roles, Alberich and Klingsor, from the early 1950s until the mid 1970s. He sang with unmatched sulfur, cannon-ball density, huge volume, dark tone, and powerful dramatic interpretation. He sang more spontaneously and from-the-gut than most singers. He was the first of his generation to sing these roles with musical line and connected legato, rather than as a series of isolated shouts, grunts, and bellowings. He was typecast for these villainous roles as soon as he set foot on the stage, and almost never performed as a good-guy.
A new recording of Weber's piano concertos was obviously long overdue, and this one fits the bill more than adequately, coming as it does generously coupled with the much better known Konzertstück and in first-rate sound quality from HMV. Not the least of its virtues is the light it casts on the origins of the piano idiom of Chopin and Liszt and, in the case of the Konzertstück, on the very foundations of the romantic concerto. I wouldn't envy any historian out to determine who was responsible for which innovation in the first two decades of the nineteenth century, but certainly to hear so many fully-formed romantic textures in music dating from 1810-21 is an instructive, not to say startling, experience.
In light of the "chill-out" trend of the 1990s, major labels released many albums of slow, meditative pieces to appeal to listeners who wanted relaxing or reflective background music. Deutsche Grammophon's vaults are full of exceptional recordings of classical orchestral music, and the performances by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic are prominent in the label's catalog. The slow selections on Karajan: Adagio are in most cases drawn from larger compositions, though these movements are frequently anthologized as if they were free-standing works. Indeed, many have come to think of the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 as a separate piece in its own right, largely because of its evocative use in the film Death in Venice. Furthermore, the famous Canon by Johann Pachelbel is seldom played with its original companion piece, the Gigue in D major, let alone in its original version for three violins and continuo; it most often appears in an arrangement for strings.
Acclaimed Berlin Philharmonic conductor Herbert von Karajan leads a stellar cast – including mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa and sopranos Anna Tomowa-Sintow and Janet Perry – in this memorable 1984 production of "Der Rosenkavalier." Recorded at Austria's Salzburger Festpiele, composer Richard Strauss' comic opera tells a tale about love between an aging noblewoman, her handsome lover, a bumbling baron and a wealthy merchant's beautiful daughter.
The Rhine turned crimson when the royal princess Ursula and her eleven thousand companions were slaughtered by the Huns. Many centuries later, Hildegard of Bingen composed a plainchant office in Ursula’s honour and sent a copy to the Abbey of Villers. The singers of Psallentes♀ sing from this famous manuscript (now housed in Dendermonde).
Interrelated traditions of keyboard and lute playing that flourished in German-speaking lands in the age immediately predating the invention of music printing have fascinated us ever since our very first encounter with the surviving repertoire that originated from these traditions. Fifteenth-century music for keyboard and plucked stringed instruments is without doubt an exciting area in the early history of European instrumental music, but one paradoxically seldom visited by performers and thus virtually unknown to the wider public. Many pieces are recorded here for the first time, and it is our hope that the present disc may contribute to restoring the remnants of a once flourishing and highly refined art to the place they deserve in the awareness of music lovers.