"This is Anne Sofie von Otter at her most hallowed, and Quasthoff is as quietly witty in the fables as he is harrowing in the military doom-songs. Unsurpassable…" ~BBC Music Mag
This is an untouchably great performance of one of Handel's most interesting oratorios: its examination of jealousy is on a par with what can be found in Otello and Pelléas. There's drama galore–in fact, during its first run it was referred to as a "musical drama" (rather than an oratorio), and Handel and his librettist, Thomas Broughton, always referred to its "acts" rather than "parts", as sections of oratorios were commonly known.–Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Thus spake Shaw, writing about Gluck towards the end of the 19th century. Shaw went on to allege that the musical culture of his time had not fully caught up with this great master and reformer of opera, and the very thoughtful and instructive essay that Gardiner contributes here suggests to me that there may still, in the third millennium, be a little catching up to do. Whatever one thinks of Gluck, either as a composer or as a musical dramatist or as an operatic rationalist and reformer, it seems to me that he was very clear-headed in one basic respect - he knew the difference between musical drama and musical tableau. Classical drama has an inherent tendency towards tableau, with its statues, white-robed women, prophets, deities and heroes…
inaugurated Cecilia Bartoli’s first season as Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival in 2012. “Bartoli’s Dream Start with Dream Voices” wrote the Vienna Kurier of this uproarious Moshe Leiser/Patrice Caurier in which Bartoli heads a hand-picked cast including Andreas Scholl, Philippe Jaroussky and Anne Sofie Von Otter with Il Giardino Armonico conducted by Giovanni Antonini. “[Andreas Scholl’s] coloratura is note perfect, he phrases recitatives with as much musicianship as arias, and the steadiness and purity of his voice are remarkable.” The Financial Times
Sir Charles Mackerras leads a fine performance of Mozart's last opera seria, a work that should be far better appreciated than it is. Full of dignity and poise, aria follows duet follows aria, fascinatingly scored, and exactly the correct length. The numbers are expressive and filled with the information we need to know these characters. Sesto, a travesty role, is taken by Magdalena Kozena, who follows in the footsteps of Teresa Berganza, Cecilia Bartoli, and Anne Sofie von Otter and proves their equal. Her gorgeous voice and technique shine through. –Robert Levine
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.