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
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…
“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.
"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
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.
Anne Sofie von Otter, accompanied by Bengt Forsberg and joined by baritone Fredrik Zetterström for two duets, performs works by four Swedish composers whose works were all composed within a century of each other. These works provide a broad image of the early development of a Swedish Lied tradition and paved the way for the great generation of Swedish song composers, including Stenhammar, Peterson-Berger and Rangström.