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.
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.
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).
Jazz breaking news: Anne Sofie von Otter and Brad Mehldau To Release 2-CD Album Love Songs
By Stephen Graham
The performance of von Otter and Gardiner on this CD encompasses both approaches without compromising the ideals of either. It is a magnificent achievement. Do you like Mahler? Especially the Mahler of Das Lied von der Erde, the slow movement of the fourth symphony, the adagietto from the fifth symphony, the finale of the ninth? Buy this disk.