Author Topic: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD  (Read 225463 times)

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Offline André

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #480 on: October 30, 2019, 04:09:22 PM »


I heard excerpts from Christophe Rousset’s Faust (the original, 1859 version), featuring Bernheim in the title role. First the cavatina, Salut, demeure chaste et pure and then the whole final scene (trio), one of the corniest and most melodious opera endings ever penned. I was struck by the beauty of the tenor’s voice, his immaculate diction and obvious dramatic involvement. I will buy it eventually (it is pricey).

What I will NOT be buying however is this schizophrenic recital of french and italian arias. Whoever devised this recital (singer, agent, record company, all three?) deserves a razzie award in programming. The contents are maddening to say the least. There’s a french aria, followed by an italian one, and so on until the end. Somehow, Lensky’s aria finds its way in this marmelade. Massenet is followed by Donizetti, then Gounod, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Massenet, Verdi, Gounod, Verdi, Berlioz, Puccini, Massenet  ??? It takes nerve to introduce a french singer with an album featuring Una furtiva lagrima, De miei bollenti spiriti, Ella mi fu rapita, Che gelida manina and Tombe degli avi miei, arias that have been recorded to death and that everybody has in multiple versions. Couldn’t they have capitalized instead on the very real forces of this young (33) french tenor and the revival of little-known french repertoire to offer us a recital of rare and not-so-rare french repertoire instead? A wonderful occasion wasted.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #481 on: November 01, 2019, 01:19:34 AM »




This collection of Broadway songs by Bernstein, Blitztein, Sondheim and Weil is an absolute delight from beginning to end.

Aside from Bernstein's I feel pretty and, to a lesser extent, his Glitter and be gay none of the items here could be considered well-known and the choice of this particular quartet of composers, all of whom are connected in some way, is felicitous. Furthermore Upshaw's clear, bright soprano and natural, unforced diction make her the ideal interpreter.

It is rare indeed for classical singers to embrace the idiom of Broadway without sounding self-conscious, but if you didn't know better, (and I mean this in a positive way) you would never know that Upshaw was also an operatic artist of the first order. Many opera singers have tackled Bernstein's Glitter and be gay, but none have ever, to my mind, challenged the original performer Barbara Cook, who not only manages to get round the notes, but really puts across the humour in the lyrics; none, that is, except Dawn Upshaw, who actually manages the coloratura with greater ease and beauty, but also points the lyrics with such ironic brilliance.

It is just one of the highlights in an album of sheer delights and I'd be hard pressed to find a favourite but there were many wonderful discoveries, among them Sondheim's The girls of summer (1956) and the opening track, sung to just piano, Blitztein's I wish it so from Juno (1959).

Only Glitter and be gay uses the original orchestration, but all the other arrangements are well done and the orchestra play excellently under Eric Stern, who himself was responsible for some of the orchestrations and provides the solo piano accompaniment on I wish it so.

I can't recommend this disc too highly.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #482 on: November 01, 2019, 11:54:16 AM »




This collection of Broadway songs by Bernstein, Blitztein, Sondheim and Weil is an absolute delight from beginning to end.

Aside from Bernstein's I feel pretty and, to a lesser extent, his Glitter and be gay none of the items here could be considered well-known and the choice of this particular quartet of composers, all of whom are connected in some way, is felicitous. Furthermore Upshaw's clear, bright soprano and natural, unforced diction make her the ideal interpreter.

It is rare indeed for classical singers to embrace the idiom of Broadway without sounding self-conscious, but if you didn't know better, (and I mean this in a positive way) you would never know that Upshaw was also an operatic artist of the first order. Many opera singers have tackled Bernstein's Glitter and be gay, but none have ever, to my mind, challenged the original performer Barbara Cook, who not only manages to get round the notes, but really puts across the humour in the lyrics; none, that is, except Dawn Upshaw, who actually manages the coloratura with greater ease and beauty, but also points the lyrics with such ironic brilliance.

It is just one of the highlights in an album of sheer delights and I'd be hard pressed to find a favourite but there were many wonderful discoveries, among them Sondheim's The girls of summer (1956) and the opening track, sung to just piano, Blitztein's I wish it so from Juno (1959).

Only Glitter and be gay uses the original orchestration, but all the other arrangements are well done and the orchestra play excellently under Eric Stern, who himself was responsible for some of the orchestrations and provides the solo piano accompaniment on I wish it so.

I can't recommend this disc too highly.

For me, I've rarely heard an opera singer that I liked in Broadway. They are often too heavy. They can't enunciate appropriately. They make it sound bloated. They often fail at creating a sense of intimacy. My list of complaints is long.

And then there is this album from Dawn Upshaw, who does none of those things. It sounds so natural and unforced. I agree with your assessment whole heartedly. This is a wonderful Broadway disc that just happens to feature an opera singer. Most of the time, you wouldn't even know, except perhaps that each track drips with quality.
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Offline André

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #483 on: November 16, 2019, 11:06:37 AM »


To get an idea of the concept behind the album, one only need to think of the most famous ‘vision aria’, Senza Mamma from Suor Angelica. The last scene of Faust, with its vision of ‘Anges radieux...Christ est ressuscitė’ participates from that same taste for emotional (not always happy) endings. Feel good stuff with their soaring melodies, ‘celestial’ harmonies, spirit elevating prose...

There are many such pieces in 19th century french opera, oratorio, cantates (a huge genre by itself, mostly emanating from the Prix de Rome concours). The vision of heaven, angels, the Virgin, etc was popular with the public and composers duly obliged.

Gens has chosen 11 such scenes. Not all of them have a melodic content that sticks in the mind, and the music is prone to sound generic in places as it tends to follow a common recipe. Nevertheless, that kind of theme recital has its place next to those of love duets, mad scenes, etc.

What seals the (happy) fate of this one is the sheer gorgeousness of the singing. Gens has a voice that is full from top to bottom, with no register breaks. It can take the elevator up or down smoothly, retaining its creaminess and frisson inducing quick vibrato throughout the range. Highlights here are the arias/scenes from Bruneau (Geneviève), Félicien David (Lalla Roukh) and, best of all, Massenet (La Vierge). Gens’ diction is excellent, but like Crespin or Tebaldi she chooses evenness of voice production to verbal clarity when singing loud high phrases. Texts and translations. Recommended.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #484 on: November 18, 2019, 02:45:50 AM »




Barbara Bonney, though American, was once married to the Swedish baritone Hakan Hagegard and is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, so it is not at all surprising to find her recording a disc of Scandinavian song, though of the composers represented here, only Stenhammar, Alfven and Sjöberg are Swedish, Grieg and Sibelius taking up the lion's share of the recital.

The recording was made in 1999, by which time Bonney would have been 43, and though the voice retains its springlike freshness and purity, maturity has brought a new richness and depth that perhaps would not have been available to her a few years earlier. Not only is it a beautiful instrument per se, but it is also beautifully expressive and she easily fills all the requirements of this varied group of songs.

Some of the Grieg songs are well known, but I am guessing that most of the others will be unfamiliar, and whilst there is nothing here to challenge the greatness of song writers like Schubert, Schumann or Wolf, there is plenty to enjoy. The emotional range is wide too and Bonney seizes every opportunity for expression afforded to her.

Pappano, unlike many conductors who have a go at piano accompaniment, offers superb support and the whole disc feels like a wonderful collaboration between two artists totally at one with their vision.

A lovely disc and one of the most enjoyable recitals in my collection. Like Bonney's disc of early English song, which I reviewed a few months back, this comes with the highest recommendation.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #485 on: November 21, 2019, 06:23:24 PM »
I found this curious and quite impressive video on youtube: Turandot assolutas, with some I had never heard of. I thought my body was scissored in two by Gina Cigna. What a voice !! Also of note: Eva Turner, and the Hungarian Anne Roselle (singing in German) in 1927, one year after the opera’s creation. She created the role in Germany. Amazingly lyrical.

Even the less than perfect ones (Grob-Prandl) have something the others don’t (listen to her ‘quel grido’, with just the right verbal emphasis).

I suspect that the clips have been monitored to add some reverb on the voices, but it is done well.



https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pKMEHpRTLX4