It would be hard to find an opera in any area of the repertory that presents so many textual problems as Les conies d'Holfmann, largely stemming from the fact that the composer died four months before the premiere early in 1881, leaving the score incomplete. The traditional text, bringing in extra material, much of it unauthentic, and leaving out a lot, was only established this century. Arthur Hammond with the Carl Rosa Company was a pioneer in attempting to sort out a more acceptable text, and his work formed the basis of the English National Opera production at the Coliseum and also the Richard Bonynge recording for Decca. Since then the discovery of no less than 1,250 autograph pages allowed Fritz Oeser to produce his monumental edition, as used extensively in the Cambreling recording for EMI (12/88 —nla)…
The epic grandeur of Der Rosenkavalier stems not just from its immense length (over three hours) but from the all-too-human complexity of its characters–each of whom is smitten with someone else–and the endless stream of graceful melodies the composer conjures. After the tonality-stretching dissonance of Salome and especially Elektra, Strauss moved onto a different musical path here: the music's sheer gorgeousness has given this most heartbreaking of 20th-century operas its pride of place in the repertory.
A loving tribute to French Song, by one of the greatest voices. With exceptional sensibility and understanding of the French language, the renowned Swedish singer pays a loving homage to French melody and song. Known for her artistic journeys which transcend the borders of musical genre, Anne Sofie von Otter’s collaborations include those with Elvis Costello and Brad Mehldau, with whom she recorded her ‘Love Songs’ album on Naïve.
Rebelling against the increasingly formulaic operas of the time, Christoph Willibald Gluck's "reformist" opera Alceste (1767) was a successful attempt to return to a purer form of musical drama. It is highly appropriate that this 1999 production of the revised 1776 Paris version should be conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, with the English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir, the same forces responsible for many fine Bach performances equally emphasizing character and text. In setting the tragic story of the profound love between Queen Alceste and her husband King Admète, Gluck provided a score of austere, rending beauty… By –Gary S. Dalkin
“Smart, sophisticated and opinionated, Anne Sofie von Otter has become a star by doing exactly what she wants”
Music composed by Jacques Offenbach, Georges Bizet, Richard Strauss, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, George Frideric Handel, Claudio Monteverdi, Benny Andersson, Elvis Costello, Cécile Louise Chaminade, Kurt Weill, Pavel Haas, Edvard Grieg, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Gustav Mahler, Henry Purcell, John Dowland.
A new disc from Anne Sofie von Otter always arouses eager expectation, whatever the repertoire. None of the composers featured on this recording of Lieder and Mélodies is regarded primarily for his songwriting prowess, yet von Otter conjures winner after winner. Even at their lightest, these pieces never fail to charm, and some of them do a good deal more than that. As one would expect from such an experienced lieder artist, the program is beautifully constructed, with songs carefully placed for maximal variety, not just of tone but also of instrumentation (excellent playing from clarinetist Eric Hoeprich and violinist Nils-Erik Sparf). This is another winner from von Otter and friends.
The disc contains scenes from some Offenbach operettas such as La belle Hélène, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, and La Périchole as well as some of his lesser known works. While most of the music showcases Ms. Von Otter's talent, she is also accompanied by other soloists and a chorus, all of whom perform exceptionally well. Listeners are not only exposed to lesser known works of this composer, but also to the composer's many talents. When we listen to this music, it is not too much of a stretch to see how he could create the masterpiece of TALES OF HOFFMAN (yes, the barcarolle is included).