Author Topic: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD  (Read 237995 times)

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Online 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.

Online 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.
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Online 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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Online 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.

Online 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

Online 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

Online Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #486 on: November 24, 2019, 10:40:26 AM »




These recordings were all made in the 1930s and so pre-date the two disc set of French song I reviewed a few months ago, with the second part of the disc being taken from a 1937 radio broadcast. One of the songs (Armstrong Gibbs' The fields are full of summer still) was newly discovered in 2001 and first published on this CD.

We start with one of Dame Maggie's most famous performances, that of Périchole's Tu n'es pas beau, sung with great affection, a twinkle in the eye and with that wonderful dip into her inimitably glorious chest voice. Though a light soprano with pure, firm top notes, Teyte's lower register was admirably rich and full in a manner we rarely hear today, more's the pity. The orchestra here sounds like a palm court orchestra at a tea dance, but the singing is another matter entirely and alone well worth the price of the disc. The two excerpts from Messager's Véronique, which follow are almost as good.

Teyte was particularly renowned for her interpretations of French song, but we are vouchsafed only two (very well known) songs from that field, Fauré's Après un rêve and Hahn's Si mes vers avaient des ailes. The Fauré is much better than the one on the French song disc mentioned above, where I felt she fussed with the song too much making it lose its natural flow, and the Hahn is as lovely as the later recording with Gerald Moore. These are followed by two Dvorak songs, Christina's Lament, which turns out to be his Humoresque arranged for voice and piano, and the ubiquitous Songs my mother taught me, both beautifully sung.

These are followed by a group of songs from light musicals, mementoes of her days spent in British Music Hall. They may be musically slight, but Deep in my heart, dear from Romberg's The Student Prince was actually one of Dame Maggie's favourite recordings. It crests with a high B, which she thought the most beautiful note she had ever recorded. Certainly the note rings out clear and clean as a bell.

The lion's share of the disc, however, is given over to a 1937 BBC broadcast recital, which couples popular songs by Schumann and Brahms to a group of English songs by turn of the century composers Quilter, Bridge, Delius, Armstrong Gibbs and (completely new to me) Amherst Webber and Graham Peel. As ever, the voice is bright and pure, her manner direct and disarming, her diction and intonation well-nigh perfect. Admittedly, there are aspects of her singing which some might find quaint and old fashioned today, but her technique is superb and her voice remained firm and clear well into her sixties.

Perhaps because of some of the material, this is not quite so recommendable as the EMI two disc set of French songs, but I would never want to be without it, if only for the wonderful aria from La Périchole.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Online Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #487 on: December 02, 2019, 09:09:25 AM »


Rossini: Arias from La Donna Del Lago, Otello, Stabat Mater, Armida, Tancredi and L'assedio di Corinto
Donizetti: Arias from Belisario, Parisina d'Este. Torquato Tasso, Gemma di Vergy
Verdi: Arias from Un Giorno di Regno, I Lombardi, I due Foscari, Alzira, Attila, Il Corsaro and Aroldo


These two discs bring together the three LPs of bel canto Rarities Montserrat Caballé recorded shortly after she rocketed to stardom singing Lucrezia in Lucrezia Borgia at Carnegie Hall in 1965, a last minute replacement for an ailing Marilyn Horne. Each record was devoted to a different composer. The first two, Rossini and early Verdi, were recorded in Italy in 1967 with the RCA Italiana Chorus and Orchestra and the Donizetti with the London Symphony Orchestra and Ambrosian Opera Chorus in 1969. Carlo Felice Cillario was the conductor for the Rossini and Donizetti, Anton Guadagno for the Verdi and the luxury presentation included other singers in the various comprimario roles.

The material was even rarer back then than it is now as vary few of the works represented had ever been recorded, Caballé herself being one of the singers who spearheaded the bel canto revival that occurred after Callas had opened the doors to this repertoire in the previous decade.

These were the years of Caballé's absolute peak and the voice is in superb condition, without a trace of the hardness that coud afflict her loud high notes in later years. Her breath control is prodigious, but she doesn't over-exploit her fabulous high pianissimi, which she tended to do in later years, and her singing has an energy and attack which you might find surprising if you only know her from her later recordings, when she tended to slow everything down until it practically came to a halt. If she has a fault, it is that her trills are a little sketchy and occasionally one hears the slight suspicion of an aspirate, but the singing is surpassingly beautiful throughout its range, her legato excellent and the voice even from top to bottom. Characterisation might not be her strong point, but she is always alive to the dramatic situation and her singing is both involved and involving.

The arias on each disc are well chosen and the whole enterprise exudes class. I really can't think of any singer today who could match her in this repertoire, maybe DiDonato in the Rossini and Donizetti, though she lacks Caballé's arrestingly beautiful sound. As for Verdi, well we do seem to be experiencing a dearth of good Verdi singers today.

These two discs are a superb memento of a great singer at the height of her powers and should be in the collection of any vocal connoisseur. This particular release comes with full notes, texts and translations which are hardly to be taken for granted these days. Highly recommended.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Online André

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #488 on: December 02, 2019, 12:56:46 PM »
Agreed, fantastic recitals indeed.

Offline dissily Mordentroge

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #489 on: December 03, 2019, 01:22:16 AM »
Possibly this can’t be considered as a ‘mere’ vocal recital so much as a recital for the accompanist but I can’t leave this one off the list.
https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/a-tribute-to-gerald-moore

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Online Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #490 on: December 03, 2019, 01:33:02 AM »
Possibly this can’t be considered as a ‘mere’ vocal recital so much as a recital for the accompanist but I can’t leave this one off the list.
https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/a-tribute-to-gerald-moore

A wonderful memento indeed. Is this complete? It's included in the Schwarzkopf Recitals box set, but is there spread over two discs.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #491 on: December 03, 2019, 02:28:29 AM »
Just a thought on the Gerald Moore tribute: That big box looks like it has retained the LP formats. Perhaps it even echos the double LP format of the original LPs of the evening. A bit pointless really.

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Offline dissily Mordentroge

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #492 on: December 03, 2019, 02:34:58 AM »
Just a thought on the Gerald Moore tribute: That big box looks like it has retained the LP formats. Perhaps it even echos the double LP format of the original LPs of the evening. A bit pointless really.
Mike
Simply a marketing strategy?
I’m drooling over that complete Schwarzkopf set. I have as many of her recordings as I’ve been able to find over the decades all the way back to the early operetta LP’s/78s . I wonder if anything on the CD collection could be material not previously released such as radio broadcasts etc?
My other question is how accurate the description 'The Complete Recitals ' when the cover art on many of those illustrated is from studio recordings.
Do they mean 'studio recitals'?
« Last Edit: December 03, 2019, 02:45:35 AM by dissily Mordentroge »
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Online Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #493 on: December 03, 2019, 09:13:49 AM »
Just a thought on the Gerald Moore tribute: That big box looks like it has retained the LP formats. Perhaps it even echos the double LP format of the original LPs of the evening. A bit pointless really.

Mike

Actually what Warner have done is reproduce exactly the format of the original releases, even down to reproducing the artwork for each individual release. I like this as it preserves the integrity of each recital, and actually prefer it to the pick-and-mix method used for most reissues of old recordings. Where they have been able to squeeze two LPs onto one disc, then they have, so the complete recording of Wolf's Italienisches Liederbuch is now on one CD, whereas the Brahms Volkslieder are still on two. The Gerald Moore Farewell concert is on the last two discs in the box, the final disc having tacked on to it Schwarzkopf's recordings of Ah perfido! and Abscheulicher! which were originally issued as fill-ups for Karajan's Philharmonia Beethoven symphony cycle. Also the total playing time for the concert is just over 90 minutes, so something must be missing from the single disc issue.

I can't recommend this set too highly and I have reviewed it here https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/elisabeth-schwarzkopf-the-complete-recitals-1952-1974/

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Online Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #494 on: December 03, 2019, 09:17:33 AM »
Simply a marketing strategy?
I’m drooling over that complete Schwarzkopf set. I have as many of her recordings as I’ve been able to find over the decades all the way back to the early operetta LP’s/78s . I wonder if anything on the CD collection could be material not previously released such as radio broadcasts etc?
My other question is how accurate the description 'The Complete Recitals ' when the cover art on many of those illustrated is from studio recordings.
Do they mean 'studio recitals'?

See my reply to Knight above. Yes, these are reissues of all Schwarzkopf's LP studio recitals for EMI. I have reviewed it on my blog https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/elisabeth-schwarzkopf-the-complete-recitals-1952-1974/.

Warner have also issued a box set of all her earlier recordings, which were originally issued on 78s.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas