As he proved with his recording of A London Symphony – Record of the Year, Gramophone Awards 2001 – Richard Hickox was a Vaughan Williams specialist. This reissue of an original 1995 recording features such lesser known works from the composer as Household Music and Flos Campi. Alternating between the passionate and the tortured, between long-breathed lyricism and moments of obvious pain, Flos Campi has never really found itself in the mainstream concert repertoire, maybe because of its title, misleadingly suggesting jolly music. Household Music has equally suffered from its title, rather an off-hand one for pieces that at their best show the composer’s brilliance as an arranger. Riders to the Sea, however, is a masterpiece, seen as the finest as well as the most concentrated of Vaughan Williams’s works for the stage, conjuring up multiple layers of emotional response to the natural world, a losing battle with the sea, and the God which rules it, for the islanders in the North Atlantic.
Released in the Britten anniversary year, Richard Farnes, the Music Director of Opera North who led their critically acclaimed production of 'The Turn of the Screw' in 2010, conducts an all-English cast in Britten’s most ingeniously crafted opera, including Andrew Kennedy, Sally Matthews, and 11-year old Michael Clayton-Jolly in the role of Miles.
October 21, 2012 marks Sir Georg Soltis centenary and Decca is celebrating this with several important reissues.
Sir Georg was an exclusive Decca artist for 50 years. In 1947 he signed his first contract with Decca - as a pianist and that same year he made his first record as a conductor (with the Zurich Tonhalle in Beethovens Egmont Overture). His last public concerts took place just a few weeks before his death in 1997 and were with the Zurich Tonhalle.
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.