Author Topic: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD  (Read 332242 times)

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Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #140 on: January 29, 2010, 12:03:40 AM »
Bryn Terfel........Bad Boys

How bad does a bad boy have to be to qualify here? Iago, Scarpia, Mephistopheles, well obviously, but Don Basilio....Dulcamara? I hesitated for some time before I bought this disc, not because the boys weren't bad enough, but because of the programming. Into the middle of a stream of classical villains and at least the unscrupulous, we find ourselves with Sweeney Todd, some Gilbert and Sullivan and a song from Les Miserables.

Not only that, but I can see no structure to the recital apart from the modern pieces being shoe-horned intothe middle; to give the discerning time to go make a coffee perhaps. However, I was lured by a low asking price.

Terfel is a favourite singer of mine and I have a fair few of his recordings. He is not just good with words, he is great. In recent years the condition of his voice has puzzled me. I heard a live relay of The Messiah from Wales a few years ago, his singing was painful. This was due to a pronounced beat in the voice on any sustained notes. I thought to myself, well, that's it, the Wagner Wobble has got him, it will be downhill now.

Subsequently I heard him live in the theatre as Wagner's Dutchman. He was utterly superb and the voice was in great condition, solid and full of colours.

On this disc we have a voice half way between these two experiences. The wobble is much in evidence in any middle range note of any length. The bottom is noticeably weak, strong and true at the top, but the variety of vocal colour I am used to is missing. The expressiveness is mainly a matter of phrasing, word use and volume. Perhaps his way of alternating phrases between a blast and a whisper has become a mannerism. There is pleasure to be had, but if this recital is a dispatch from the front line, then our soldier is far from fresh and possibly ailing.

With the bottom of the voice so noticeably weak, how does he manage Wotan so well? I recall reading an interview with Hotter, another singer with a perhaps variable lower range. He suggested that Wotan's most cavernous notes were well supported by the orchestra and that rather than pushing his voice, he would smite the stage with his spear at the critical moments. He said no one ever noticed he soft peddled those notes. But our bad boys here have no spear to deploy. However Terfel is well supported by orchestra, Paul Daniel as conductor and a chorus where needed.

There are two Mephistos here, Boito's and Gounod's. Both are given great gusto. A pity the Berlioz incarnation was not included, that would have provided a healthcheck on sustained legato singing, of which there is not really any here. Pizarro is well snarled through, Scarpia is very successful in portraying a man in total preoccupation, whilst around him the Te Deum thunders. Roderic from Ruddigore I enjoyed much more than I expected to.

Sondheim is a terrific wordsmith, but as a composer, he makes the music subservient to the words and produces streams of dry, secco recitative. I recently went to 'A Little Night Music'. Apart from 'Send in the Clowns', the rest would have been better handed over to a collaborator. I don't 'get' why he is so admired and although Sweeney Todd is gripping, the extract here does it no favours.

But the surprising failure here is Iago. I find it difficult to explain just what is wrong. His voice sounds curiously constricted. The Credo seems like it is sight-read, the concept splintered and the bluster is unconvincing. Here the whisper/blast combination sounds empty.

I explained that there was no logical shape to the recital. I imagine chronological programming would mean either opening or closing with the piece of merde from Les Mis and that really would not cut the mustard. So we open with Boito and close with Don Giovanni. A successful closing track, Giovanni is confronted by The Statue, Leporello hides under the table and Giovanni is defiant as he is dragged down to hell. Terfel has fun.

Christoff persuaded EMI to let him sing all three bass parts in Boris Godunov, here, Terfel sings all three parts in that penultimate Giovanni scene. His Statue is not really cavernous, but then that hope is so often postponed, but he differentiates his voice and he gets round the Mozart. A spectacular close to the disc, though in my head I then hear the opening chords of the final ensemble.

So, a mixed bag. I hope that next time round his voice is in a more refulgent phase. The silk has gone, the colours are flattened. Is Wagner to blame after all I wonder?

Mike
« Last Edit: January 29, 2010, 11:47:28 AM by knight »
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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #141 on: January 29, 2010, 08:37:11 PM »
Mike, that's a great review ! And very balanced. Terfel has right from the start been a blind spot for me. The voice, yes. The manner, noooo !
Quote
Perhaps his way of alternating phrases between a blast and a whisper has become a mannerism

That's been Terfel's way since inception. Regardless of the voice (sumptuous, arresting), the way he interprets is dead wrong. He  out Fischer-Dieskauses the Master himself.

I'm sure a strong conductor (not a Levine, not an Abbado) could get him to do what he was born to do best: sing, sing, sing. Simon Boccanegra, Rigoletto, Amonasro would have been great roles for him. Roles that require a great singing line. Wagner? Shouting matches as he does them, the roles' sensibility and subtleties somewhat eluding his personality.

Ass bass-baritones carreers go, Terfel has a good 10 years to go. I hope hemakes the best out of it.

Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #142 on: January 30, 2010, 02:02:47 AM »
Andre,

Interesting where our taste in singers overlaps and then where it diverges. I enjoy a lot of Terfel's singing, but don't like much of the cross-over work he clearly enjoys. His concert persona of the big boyo from the valleys makes me cringe. At the end of one concert of lieder, he encored with several sentimental Welsh songs. He cleverly caters to a wide fan base.

Some comparison to DFD is probably valid.

I recall a programme about DFD where it was explained that he seemed to be more admired than loved as a singer. People could easily attest to the talent, had to have his discs, but then often left them the shelf. I do feel a bit like that about him. There is sometimes too much art on display. Some of his Bach I would never part with, but in opera, I am not sure if his interpretation of any single role is my favourite. In lieder, I find some of his performances spot on and others overwrought. I think that he is best in oratorio.

Mike
« Last Edit: January 31, 2010, 08:32:53 AM by knight »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #143 on: January 30, 2010, 07:54:40 AM »
but in opera, I am not sure if his interpretation of any single role is my favourite. I

Mike

That got me thinking, and I have to admit that I couldn't really think of an operatic role, for which Fischer-Dieskau would be my favourite singer - Olivier in Capriccio perhaps? I do rather enjoy his intellectual Wotan in Karajan's Das Rheingold, but have admit that it has very little in common with Thomas Stewart's characterisation in the later operas. I also rather enjoyed his approach to the Dutchman in Konwitchny's recording of the opera, whilst admitting that there may be others who have sung the role better, if with less psychological insight.

In Lieder, I enjoy him rather more, particularly in some of the earlier EMI recordings with Gerald Moore, when the actual voice could still be a thing of great beauty.



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Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #144 on: January 31, 2010, 09:02:14 AM »
Elizabeth Schwarzkopf: Strauss Four Last Songs plus 12 others. George Szell.

I find it difficult to be objective about these performances. Those of the Last Songs I have known for over 40 years. This recording with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin was my introduction to these pieces. I have long neglected it on my shelf in favour of Janowitz, sometimes Auger, Norman...and several others. But I returned to it and the magic was immediately there. It is a classic recording and will always be admired and loved.

As we often suggest, the first performance we hear of some pieces imprint themselves on us. In a great performance such as this, as you listen, you wonder how it could be done any other way.

Several recordings of Schwarzkopf in these songs have surfaced, I have two. In the earlier, I have read that her voice was fresher and that you can detect that....well, I can't. This Szell was made in 1966, she was about 50, so possibly the voice was indeed no longer quite as easeful at the top, but so marginal are the 'problems' as to be a nit picking exercise.

There is an alchemy about this recording, the performance draws you into its half light, its nostalgia, the glow of autumn. A very special atmosphere is sustained. The pacing is sensible, neither too fast or slow. Szell phrases beautifully and provides an ebb and flow without losing the arch of each song.

Schwarzkopf was often criticised for being arch, for overworking the words or phrasing, but here, in this highly un-natural art form, it all sounds natural and 'right'

The rest of the programme comes from the same sessions plus six from another Szell session in 1969, this time with the LSO. The sound matches well across the tracks. Most of these additional songs stick to what are now well trod paths. Not all are in orchestral arrangements by Strauss, but were authorised by him. One that is, is Morgan; a song written as a wedding gift for his wife. Here the voice is perhaps not quite as fluid as would be ideal, but what a lot of compensations there are as we receive from a singer long steeped in this material.

A beautiful disc, described by someone as "slush corner". Perhaps the teeth would fall out on a constant diet of such luscious beauty....but then, having held these sounds in my head since childhood, I am not really the objective guide you might need before you commit to a further debit from your bank account.

Mike

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #145 on: February 02, 2010, 11:42:07 PM »
Mike,

I agree with all you have to say about the Schwarzkopf Vier letzte Lieder. Admittedly, like you, it is the recording I first got to know the songs by, but it has remained with me, and though I have several others now (2 other Schwarzkopf recordings, with Ackermann and Karajan respectively, Janowitz/Karajan,  Popp/Tennstedat and Fleming/Thielemann), it is always Schwarzkopf/Szell that I hear in my mind's ear.

I'll append here what I wrote in the Vier letzte Lieder thread many moons ago, and only add that this disc, along with the Baker/Barbirolli Mahler disc remains one of my favourite orchestral Lieder discs of all times.



Quote
I have all three of Schwarzkopf's recordings , 1953, live 1956 and 1965, with, respectively, Ackermann, Karajan and Szell. I also have Popp/Tennstedt and Janowitz/Karajan.

I have to say, that, though I enjoy all these recordings, it is the Schwarzkopf/Szell recording I like best, as, for me, they get right to the heart of these songs as no others do. With Strauss's gorgeous writing for the soprano voice, it is all too easy to forget that these are Lieder, and to ignore the texts and just revel in the sheerly beautiful sounds, provided by a Te Kanawa, a Fleming, or indeed a Janowitz. I also feel the more mature Schwarzkopf better suited to the songs than the young one. After all, these are Autumnal songs, and the voice of youth doesn't seem quite right somehow. Certain phrases in Swhwarzkopf's later recording are now so firmly etched into my memory, that they spoil me for all others and Schwarzkopf and Szell seem to be completely at one in their vision. Two places stick out for me, Schwarzkopf's voicing of the words langsam tut er die mudgewordenen Augen zu in September, where Szell matches her tone perfectly in the orchestra. The other is in the final song, Im Abendrot. The way Schwarzkopf sings the words so tief im Abendrot has an almost cathartic release, not matched in any of her other recordings (nor by any other soprano), and superbly seconded by the rich carpet of sound Szell provides for her. Ist dies etwa der Tod, asks Schwarzkopf/Eichendorff, and as the orchestra creeps in with the quote from Tod und Verklaerung, one can only assume that it is. For me it is one of the classic discs of all time, and would definitely be one for my desert island./quote]



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

Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #146 on: February 20, 2010, 11:53:07 PM »
A singer new to me.

We seem to live in a time of plenty where baritones are concerned. Though it is my voice part, I don't dash out to keep supplementing my collection to hear all the new ones. But at last I tumbled to Christian Gerhaher. His discs are not just distinctive due to his many qualities, but to the partnership he has with his regular pianist, Gerold Huber, who is an exceptional accompanist.

I have been vaguely aware of the praise Gerhaher's recent discs have received. The ecstasy induced by his latest release prompted me to go hunting. Instead of the new discs I settled for two earlier Arte Nova releases from 2002 and 2003. The critics suggest he has improved considerably in recent years. I wonder about that, because these early discs contain some of the most satisfying singing and interpretations I know of.

The earlier album contains some Schubert, Brahms and Frank Martin. Gerhaher has a most beautiful nut brown voice. He is an instant communicator and places the words right at the front of the face. Every consonamt is audible, but not in an exaggerated way. Here we have a singer who thrives on telling a story or taking you to another place.

The Brahms consists of the 'Four Serious Songs', they remain songs rather than being blown up into arias. The Schubert is all beautifully sung and he manages many individual touches in the use of the words. He also deploys his excellent legato phrasing, so that the expression is within the line of the music rather than breaking it up.

The second disc contains Mahler's 'Kindertotenlieder' with Huber a sensitive and supportive pianist. There is then a performance of the 20 minute Schoenberg chamber piece, 'Kammersymphonie Op9' from 1906, played by the Hyperion Ensemble. This is a passionate, sweeping piece and as the title suggests, it contains a piano; which is integrated into the textures rather then highlighted. Although an early piece, it is already sliding about, experimenting with atonality.

The Hyperion players stay on for the final Work on the disc. The Schoenberg chamber reworking of Mahler's 'Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen'. Translucent textures are key here and the orchestration includes the piano for the percussive effects. A delightful rethinking and fronted by Gerhaher's superb singing. He takes the high notes without undue stress. There is a nice ebb and flow in the interpretation.

He can sound like Fischer Dieskau, who has at least briefly taught him, but his performances don't at all sound like emulation. He is distinctive in his own right. If it is true he has improved, then he surely must be at the absolute pinnacle of today's lieder singers.

These discs are bargains in every way. They also prompt me to look through the Arte Nova catalogue with a lot more attention.

Mike
« Last Edit: February 21, 2010, 04:35:06 AM by knight »
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Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #147 on: March 25, 2010, 02:06:54 PM »
An Easter programme with a difference. Via Crucis



This disc combines 17 century pieces with Sicilian folk songs. The progress of the disc revolves around Mary's meditations looking at her child; she sees the pain of the future. The second part of the programme takes in the fulfillment of Mary's visions in the Crucifixion and finally, the resurrection.

The singing is divided between Nuria Rial, Philippe Jaroussky and the male quartet Barbara Furtuna, who provide an earthy tang to set against the pellucid sounds made by the others. There is enormous pleasure here, the orchestra is made up of about 25 musicians playing such as baroque guitars, psalterion, dulcimer, viole de gambe etc. Rich, but never overwhelming.

There is some extemporisation. Possibly the most famous piece here is Merula's 'Hor ch'e tempo di dormire' a hypnotic piece where the accompaniment rests on two notes, back and forth rocking as Mary envisions the child in her arms in his final pain. It is a remarkable piece. In this version, the musicians have provided some quite violent harmonies at the ends of some verses. It works, Rial's light soprano is a beautiful instrument; but although I enjoy this version, I prefer the austerity of the original as voiced by the plangent tones of Sarah Mingardo.

But there is so much to beguile here. It is not a procession of miserable and dolorous music any more than you might extract from Bach's music when covering the painful parts of the journey.

This is an original and marvelous progression of pieces, Rossi, Cazzati, Biber and many others. The colours glow, the melodies are sinuous. A really beautiful disc of mainly little known music.

Try this to get a flavour of the sounds........

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11POTypBh2I&feature=channel


Mike

« Last Edit: March 25, 2010, 02:13:14 PM by knight »
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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #148 on: March 27, 2010, 03:49:55 PM »
Mike, this is wonderful, totally unexpected stuff. The video extract took me by srprise. Without it, I would have htought the cornet-likeinstrument to be a trumpet or alto-saxophone. And the 'traditional' singing sounds like anything one might encounter today on a hot smmer night in a corsican village tavern. Apparently extemporaneous music making, but at the highest level of sophistication.

I need to have this. Thanks for this unusual offering !

Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #149 on: June 11, 2010, 11:18:45 AM »
Susan Gritton, BBCSO, Edward Gardner: Chandos

Finzi Dies Natalis, Britten
Les Illuminations, Quatre Chansons
Delius, Late Lark

Over on the Finzi thread I explained that my long treasured Dies Natalis with Wilfred Brown was suddenly irking me; the 1930s received pronunciation distracted me. I decided to plump for this brand new version, which, featuring a soprano, would certainly be different. The premier of the piece was given by a soprano, so was clearly sanctioned by the composer. I was also attracted by the overall programme.

As a sequence it works beautifully.

Gritton has a soft, but firm and round tone. Her voice is forward, and forwardly recorded. Her way with the words does not get in my way.

The Finzi is regarded as his masterpiece. It is a very English idiom, pastoral, with a strong serving of mystical ecstasy on the side. There is an impulsiveness, not nervous energy, but certainly momentum that is curtailed with some gentle ruminations.

This is a good version, but it lacks the propulsion and sheer airiness of the older version. Although Gritton does not annoy me with her pronunciation, frankly she does not much flavour the words. The accompaniment is beautifully played and recorded, but the conductor is effective rather than inspired.

It is much the same in Les Illuminations: that last ounce of tang and virtuosity, of being on top of the piece is missing. Heather Harper on a BBC disc is a miracle of darting light. I want more savour of the words. There are lovely things here though.

The Quatre Chansons are extraordinarily accomplished to be produced at 14 years old. This is Britten as Ravel, lovely songs and very well performed here, as satisfying as their premier recording with Jill Gomez.

The Delius is a premier recording, a pleasant piece, but not a great find. Better I think to have ended with the French songs.

I will get a lot of pleasure of of this disc, but Wilfred will probably call successfully to me once again across the years.

Mike
« Last Edit: June 11, 2010, 11:38:16 AM by knight »
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Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #150 on: July 29, 2010, 07:01:29 AM »
Heather Harper is a name which is not much mentioned on these threads. She sings in a number of well thought of performances. I think of her primarily as a Mozart, Handel and Britten singer, though her range went to Wagner to Verdi and, as here, Richard Strauss. Her contribution in the Hickox Britten 'War Requiem' is especially fine, so too hew Ellen Orford in the Davis version of Britten's 'Peter Grimes'. The Female Chorus role in 'The Rape of Lucretia' is wonderfully voiced. Her live Hunting Fathers and 'Les Illumination' are live performances caught on the wing and unequaled.

I was looking for copies of Leontyne Price singing Strauss 'Four Last Songs'. I am still waiting for the Price disc; but while searching I came across this disc. Harper recorded the Four Last Songs twice, this is the second one, dating from 1988, she was 58.

Is it any good? Yes, it certainly is.

The performance is on CFP which cost me less than £4 with free postage! The silly price, did not encourage me to lower my expectations or judgement calls. This joins Schwartzkopf, Janowitz, Auger and Norman, who are my first recommendations depending on what you want out of the pieces. It comes ahead of Studer, Fleming, te Kanawa, Della Casa and Isokoski.

This is not just based on voice alone. Richard Hickox steers the LSO through the songs providing an underlying pulse for each which moves them along but not at the expense of expressiveness. The orchestra shimmers and is mellow, there is lots of detailed phrasing within the pulse. Harper at a relatively advanced age does not put a foot wrong. Some German vowels sound on the harsh side; apart from this the silvery soprano, ample and warm, sounds in terrific condition; high soft, high loud, diminuendo, nothing seems stressed. It is a distinctive voice, she does not vary tone much, but is expressive with words and volume. It is a fully formed thought through performance and there is nothing of the routine about it.

Accompanying the set we have 12 orchestrated Strauss songs. She includes about four that were new to me; a bonus as I have quite a few discs of Strauss songs. The programme is a delight and as the conductor does not get lost in cream-puff land, they do not pall. The programme lasts just over an hour and I was left wanting more, to the extent I played it straight through twice, then again the next day.

 

If you don't believe me; try the samples.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Strauss-Songs-London-Symphony-Orchestra/dp/B001DCGKKS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1280418589&sr=1-1

I wonder how Leontyne Price will compare?

Mike

Edited for typos and punctuation

« Last Edit: July 29, 2010, 11:21:30 PM by knight »
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Elgarian

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #151 on: July 29, 2010, 07:53:51 AM »
Mike, I've only listened to the Four Last Songs so far, and none of the others; but on that limited basis I'd say you've pretty well nailed it in your review here. Particularly I think your description of the timbre of her voice is bang on the mark. I'm amazed to learn that she was 58 when she made this. She doesn't sound young, certainly - but 58?!

I'm not a great devotee of the Four Last Songs, and haven't a wide experience of different approaches, but this is quite likely to become the one I most often turn to - certainly I prefer its warmth and sensitivity to  Kiri's recording, which is the one I'm most familiar with. And at this price, well - who could lose?

karlhenning

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #152 on: July 29, 2010, 10:10:43 AM »
Heather Harper is a name which is not much mentioned on these threads. She is part of a number of well thought of performances. I think of her primarily as a Mozart, Handel and Britten singer, though her range went to Wagner to Verdi and, as here, Richard Strauss. Her contribution in the Hickox Britten War Requiem is especially fine, so to the Davis Britten Peter Grimes, Lucretia. Her live Hunting Fathers and Les Illumination is remarkable.

I was looking for copies of Leontyne Price singing Strauss Four Last Songs. I am still waiting for the Price disc; but while searching I came across this disc. She recorded the Four Last Songs twice, this is the second one, dating from 1988, she was 58.

Is it any good? Yes, it certainly is.

The performance is on CFP which cost me less than £4 with free postage! The silly price, did not encourage me to lower my expectations or judgement calls. This joins Schwartzkopf, Janowitz, Auger and Norman, who are my first recommendations depending on what you want out of the pieces. It comes ahead of Studer, Fleming, te Kanawa Della Casa and Isokoski.

This is not just based on voice alone. Richard Hickox steers the LSO through the songs providing an underlying pulse for each which moves them along but not at the expense of expressiveness. The orchestra shimmers and is mellow, there is lots of detailed phrasing within the pulse. Harper at a relatively advanced age does not put a foot wrong. Some German vowels sound on the harsh side; apart from this the silvery soprano, ample and warm, sounds in terrific condition, high soft, high loud, diminuendo, nothing seems stressed. It is a distinctive voice, she does not vary tone much, but is expressive with words and volume. It is a fully formed thought through performance and there is nothing of the routine about it.

Accompanying the set we have 12 orchestrated Strauss songs. She includes about four that were new to me; a bonus as I have quite a few discs of Strauss songs. The programme is a delight and as the conductor does not get lost in cream-puff land, they do not pall. The programme lasts just over an hour and I was left wanting more, to the extent I played it straight through twice, then again the next day.

 

If you don't believe me; try the samples.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Strauss-Songs-London-Symphony-Orchestra/dp/B001DCGKKS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1280418589&sr=1-1

I wonder how Leontyne Price will compare?

Mike

This looks very nice, especially for the price.

Offline mjwal

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #153 on: July 30, 2010, 02:47:15 AM »
You've sold me on the Harper/Strauss - I'll report back on my impressions. At the moment my favourite 4 Last songs is the Ansermet/Stich-Randall - with an airy, light orchestral tissue quite different from anything else I've heard and soaring lines from that underrated (IMO) soprano. (The other work on the CD is the Fauré Requiem with Souzay and a rather provincial French-style chorus.) Talking of Stich-Randall and vocal recitals: I love the 1956 recital on INA with Rosbaud: some wonderful Lieder (Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Strauss), Debussy's Ariettes oubliées , finishing with "Die Forelle" and "Widmung" as encores. Her German is very clear (with only one memory slip where she adds an extra consonant to an adjective) and expressive, always with the long line in view. This is quite different from the Schwarzkopf or even Seefried manner. A pity that so little of her work is available.
The Violin's Obstinacy

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not a tune and not a key
but the sound of self it must depart from,
a journey lengthily to go
in a vein it knows will cripple it.
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Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #154 on: July 30, 2010, 02:52:13 AM »
I hope you enjoy it. I won't have to feel too guilty if not, as it costs so little. I agree there is too little of th silvery voice of Stich-Randall. Though in fact, it could expand into a fairly fulsome sound.

This is a lovely example of her work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5t0MtqYikDc

Mike
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Offline The new erato

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #155 on: July 31, 2010, 12:37:32 PM »
This joins Schwartzkopf, ..............

Ackermann or Szell?

Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #156 on: July 31, 2010, 12:49:53 PM »
I have both, plus the early Karajan. The recording I was referring to is the Szell one.

Mike
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Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #157 on: November 13, 2010, 12:57:35 AM »
Time to bump my own favourite thread.

A second hand disc. All three of the major Mahler solo voice song cycles plus a short group from Wunderhorn which includes Ulricht. The singer, Brigitte Fassbaender.

Here is a voice packed full with individual character and timbre. Distinctive from her first notes, it is a rich, purple and tangy voice. She was often to be found in best voice within opera sets, Cosi or perhaps her amazing singing in the Guilini Trovatore. But for solo discs, she had to await an Indian Summer. A summer with the occasional squall.

Once 'discovered' she was provided with many opportunities. Her Schubert is ultra dramatic and in some instances appropriately deranged. Here is a singer of great intelligence who cannot commit a dull phrase of singing.

This may sound exhausting to listen to, not so. But with the insights and the life experience, there was the inevitable downside. It is ironic that when most in the solo recital highlight her voice was past its very best. The vibrancy can become uncomfortable under pressure and high notes can be jarring. The upper reaches of 'Ging heut' morgan' have moments of discomfort. I have an oldish track of her storming through Ponchielli, Suicedo from Gioconda; she sounds like a soprano. But her usual tone was deep mezzo and as such, her general tone suits some of these Mahler songs more than others.

The Conductor is Chailly and the orchestra is the Deutches Sym Orc Berlin. The recordings took place in 1988/89 and I assume they were originally paired with various of the Chailly Mahler Symphony cycle.

I think so far that it may read as though I am indulging in special pleading for a slightly over the hill singer. But I don't intend that to be the tone here. I do wish she had been caught ten years earlier, but what we have is a partnership that yields a lot of insights. Not many singers savour the words so. It is her native language after all, but the praise stands. She takes you to the heart of wonder, regret, remorse, love, grief and so on. Each song is a jewel, its facets explored and turned toward you to catch the light.

She carries the line well for example in, 'Ich atmet' einen linden Duft' In two and a half minutes Mahler captures perfume in musical language. The line has to be maintained like a thread through pearls and she carries that and does not over express. So anyone fearing that the disc becomes one damned mini-psychodrama after another can relax.

A late gift from a very great singer.

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #158 on: November 13, 2010, 10:05:24 AM »
The Conductor is Chailly and the orchestra is the Deutches Sym Orc Berlin. The recordings took place in 1988/89 and I assume they were originally paired with various of the Chailly Mahler Symphony cycle.

No, they were actually issued together on a single disc apart from the symphonies. (Chailly's "filler" was unusually interesting, and different: works by Bach, Schoenberg, Berg, Zemlinsky, Diepenbrock.) A couple of years after the songs Chailly and Fassbaender recorded Das Klagende Lied too. That plus the song cycles are now coupled on a Decca twofer that I've been eyeing for quite some time. Your review of the songs has finally convinced me to hit the buy button.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #159 on: November 13, 2010, 10:14:35 AM »
Thanks for the information Sarge, I wondered, but could not be hacked trying to track the truth of it.

I have just ordered another Kate Royal recital and will review it if I can think of 'out worthwhile to write about it.

Cheers,

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.